Estimated Unlinked Passenger Trips (October 2006=1.00), Red = US, Blue= PAT
The story is a continued loss of riders. Any mitigation of that trend over just the last couple of years has to take into account the huge increase in gas prices over some of that time. As we have seen in the past, those types of gains can go away as fast as they came so it's best to not confuse the issue.
Also need to account for population and employment change. Pop change here is lower than the US, but a lot of transit ridership is commuter/employment driven (is that a pun?) and as we have pointed out elsewhere, the last year has seen a lot better economic picture here than most everywhere else. Barring last month the Pittsburgh region is near the highest employment levels ever recorded in the region and if we were just holding our transit usage constant, transit ridership would be pushing near highs as well. So transit is clearly not capturing any of these new workers who are most likely commuting by auto.. and I bet commuting alone for the most part.
The bottom line, Pittsburgh trails almost everywhere else in a trend toward driving vs transit. We used to be a national leader in transit ridership, something we have decided is not worth maintaining into the future. So all of this Earth Day talk, and the impacts of 'greening' of things on the margin are all being obviated by our driving trends. Yet people love to talk about greening a building, or turning off lights for an hour here or there, but they just ignore the policies being put in place that are pushing tens of thousands of people into driving their cars. I don't get folks who talk about the importance of green things, but are more than happy to let public transit wither? Be honest with what you believe, if you believe environmental issues are too expensive to maintain that is a choice, but you can't have your cake and eat it too.