Public Transportation Ridership: Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back? | Newgeography.com
For most all it takes is a single ride on public transit to realize anything else would be better.
"The Bureau of Transportation Statistics recently released preliminary data summarizing public transportation ridership in the United States for the calendar year 2015. The preliminary data from the National Transit Data program showed transit ridership in 2015 of 10.4 billion annual riders approximately 2.5% below the 2014 count and also smaller than the 2013 count. The American Public Transit Association using a slightly different methodology released data showing 10.6 billion annual riders versus 10.7 billion in calendar year 2014, a 1.26% year-over-year decline. Such differences between sources are common, resulting from differences in methodology and definitions, and unsurprising, given that data is preliminary and national data is dependent upon reporting from hundreds of different agencies.
It is important to recognize that it’s extraordinarily difficult to consistently grow transit ridership. We have had growing population, a rebounding economy, growing total employment, and an aggressively argued hypothesis that the millennial generation is meaningfully different than their forefathers—with urban centric aspirations and indifference toward auto ownership and use. Yet, transit ridership has remained stubbornly modest."
The surprise in not that ridership is modest, but that it is as high as it is today. This is a testament to the problems our cities have created for commuters.
The gold standard is prompt, safe, quick, on demand, door-to-door transportation. The transportation modes which fit this best are automobile, and aircraft. public transit, rail, and other modes do not even come close. Here in Portlandia, transit is difficult, slow, and unpleasant. The more one rides public transit, the less one likes to ride public transit. Add to that the fact that the Portlandia light rail is cannibalizing the bus system, which causes longer waits for fewer buses, and eliminated bus lines. The system is ripe for an Uber like door-to-door carpool service, which would charge low rates for routine scheduled pickup service of multiple riders. And, of course, the coming self drive auto carpool service.
Transit is doomed by the fact that better, closer to gold standard, and truly low cost services are coming. Good thing we are spending billions on long term money wasters like new light rail lines! It would be terrible not to allow government to waste all that money.