Hmmm, maybe a crazy idea. My retro future fantasy brain on a spree.
The city transit service could run a small fleet of AI Smart, small self-driving cars. Electric. We know they’re coming. A kind of car share system managed by a transit authority.
You could hire one over the phone or through an app then wait at a bus stop, get picked up, insert the credit card or prepaid fare card and be delivered to another bus stop. The end bus stop wouldn’t need necessarily to be on the limited route. The car system could freely cross routes, and choose the most direct route through the city.
Some kind of payment system based on zones, or distance? A flat fee? I suppose, more than a two dollar bus fare, less than a taxi. Buses already service stop to stop. Taxis would still have the advantage of door to door, wider service ranges, storage for hauling substantial items, perhaps luxury, and personal help when needed.
I see the self-driving car, here, as a solution to short hops, or buzzing around suburban areas where bus transit is a bit spotty.