Thursday, March 20, 2014

Transit Ridership Up!

You have probably seen the news that transit ridership numbers just released by APTA show the highest ridership numbers since 1956 (APTA press release here, good Atlantic Cities summary here).  This is good news for lots of reasons.
Some thoughts that I haven’t seen given much attention:
·      Transit numbers going up is a corollary of VMT numbers going down.  The two trends taken together reflect some fundamental changes in demography, culture, and settlement patterns. 
·      We are way behind the curve in most places in providing modern, expanded transit facilities and services (see my mention of Baltimore here).  Too many states and MPOs are still plowing money into expensive, outmoded highway projects.  And in too many states it’s actually unconstitutional to use the main source of transportation revenue – the gas tax – off the highway system. 
·      If and when we are able to put adequate capital funding into transit, the daunting problem of operating funds persists.  Because farebox revenue doesn’t come close to paying for operating costs, very often the more you extend service to get more customers, the more money you lose!  And federal and state funders hate providing money for operating expenses. 

At least these new numbers should help get people’s attention for these issues!

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