Monday, March 16, 2009

bus stops

I once commented that public transit usage was relatively high in Allegheny County compared to other places. The question is what are the trends for the future? There is now enough data to look at some clean data that is not impacted by the route cuts in terms of how transit usage is faring here vs. elsewhere.

Here is data like what I have shown before with the percentage change in the transit ridership between the 4th quarter of 2008 versus the 4th quarter of 2007. So even without the route cuts impacting the results, here are the results of the latest data on transit ridership in nation's the largest bus agencies. It's hard to tell from the graph, but Pittsburgh is in that range of virtual no change, +0.3%.

Change in Total Passenger Trips, largest bus agencies, Q4 2008 vs. Q4 2007

See the link above for the actual source and the names of the relevant transit agencies that are being depicted for each region in the chart. Off the top of my head I'm not sure what is up in Cinci or Houston. The highest growth areas is far from explained by population growth alone. Even Phoenix is not growing that much population-wise, and Detroit is not doing well economically or I presume with population. Phoenix opened up a new subway line last year. Other than that I will let the graphic strand on it's own if anyone has thoughts on Pittsburgh near zero performance while transit usage is shooting up across the country. Zero is at least an improvement from the results that were impacted by the route cuts.


Blogger RoboticGhost said...

My guess? There isn't wasn't much room to grow ridership without changing the system. With something like 50% of downtown workers (and close to that in Oakland) already taking the bus to work, the system was at or close to maximum penetration. Commuters who can/ would take the bus to work already do. Couple that with the (related) easy commutes around here and it doesn't surprise me that ridership levels didn't shoot up like some other cities. Workplace density cultivated ridership to a saturation point, maybe.

If PAT wants to increase ridership and get more bang for their buck per-passenger-mile, they'll have to
capture a new market somehow. I like idea of maximizing core service to make non-commute trips for urbanites more appealing. Speaking of which, isn't the TDP proposed service changes set to drop any day now?

Monday, March 16, 2009 3:13:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

From my experience, rush hour bus service into and out of Oakland is running at full capacity in that nobody else can fit on the bus.

Monday, March 16, 2009 3:50:00 PM  
Blogger jm said...

That is so true about the main lines of rush-hour service into Oakland.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 4:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Winston said...

One thing to look out for here is the fact that most of the cities with stagnating or declining ridership have stagnating or declining metro (or service-area) populations. It's hard to grow service in New York or San Francisco since they are not only hemmed in by geography but have little room to expand demographically. Pittsburgh is probably in a similar boat.

At least, that's my explanation for Phoenix and Atlanta. Not sure what's up with Houston or Detroit, though...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 7:12:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

the 50% Downtown workers taking public transit is I think one of those numbers that deserves scrutiny. My counts of public transit usage by commuters by neighborhood are in this:

Which shows about 32% Downtown workers taking public transit. You can also work it out backwards, if literally half of workers Downtown and Oakland took the bus and you backed that out against PAT ridership numbers in total it would mean few non-workers were taking the bus.. which we know isn't true. Given how many people drive to work Downtown, it's hard to imagine there are not potential riders.. even if its just the ones who have stopped riding since the most recent cuts.

and potential markets and the TDP. This will be the telling point. We will see if it is an attempt to reach out to more potential riders vice what I expect a document to justify more shrinkage... scratch that.. I must mean 'efficiency'.
One criticism I will agree with of the Port Authority is how static the route map has been over a long time with little adjustment to changing population patterns. Will they show new routes and services to the suburbs people have moved to? Seems unlikely given those are precisely the routes they gutted last time around.. but I will wait and see.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 9:41:00 PM  

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