Transit Tuesday - metrics to be proud of (in the past)
Last month there was a PG story on a Forbes article that listed Pittsburgh as one of the most commuter friendly regions in the country. The Pittsburgh profile points out a few reasons why including a high percentage of people who get to work by means other than driving.
That's great. Kind of not mentioned is that the metric used data from 2006 and 2007, mostly all of which came before the Port Authority cut so many routes. Even with some gas price induced ridership gains here, those gains pale in comparison to the increased ridership in most other major transit systems.
Bottom line, I can pretty much guarantee that we have moved down that list of most transit-friendly regions since 2006, and looking to move down even further as time goes by. Since so many routes were cut, the potential gains are proving to be that much less than what other major transit systems are experiencing right now. Where once we were ranked pretty high in transit usage, the only question at the moment is how far we have fallen. Will have to wait for some more data for answer that for sure, but that was the cost we will pay for the route cuts last year.
Don't believe that, or think it's just a marginal shift... I have taken the bus ridership trends from the American Public Transit Association which has this table of data through the 2nd quarter of 2008 and all I did was plot out the year to date percentage change in # of rides... We show up dead last by far. What's that new feature in the Post-Gazette these days??? facts that speak for themselves:
Some of the few regions that come close to our drop include yet again New Orleans and other places with some severe economic downturns of late such as Cleveland or places hard hit by the housing crunch including Los Angeles. In lots of ways we are doing ok economically compared to those places, so if you took those factors into account our transit drop off would compare even worse. Though what it means to be worse than last I am not sure.
So yes, a part of the explanation for that are the route cuts, but that is the point. Even if high gas prices gets ridership to sustain itself at where ridership was before the cuts, look at the big jumps elsewhere. Given our historically high ranking in terms of transit usage, you would think we have the potential to show some of the largest transit ridership increases. There is no reason that instead of minus 5%, we are not at plus 10% where several regions are or even greater. How much gas does 15% (-5 to +10) of 230K daily riders add up to? I bet it's enough to negate just about all other recent energy conservation efforts in the region combined and then some.