One day in Pittsburgh
There is this bizarre disconnect out there isn't there? BP-induced oil phobia growing... greater 'green' talk all around. I bet eco-consciousness (whatever that really means) is higher than in a long time. Yet the thing that may have the biggest impact on oil usage, that would be your mode of commuting, people don't really care much about what is really happening to the things that actually do conserve energy.
Note how the National Geographic "eco friendly" commuting patterns for us supposes a +40% increase in transit usage for Pittsburgh. Yet there is virtually no public reaction to the announcement that the Port Authority may soon cut routes by 30%. In fact, given the limited footprint of the AC Port Authority within the greater region, coupled with the minimal transit options once you are outside of Allegheny County, how is it even conceivable you could really bump up transit usage by 40% in less than a generation (or $6/gallon gas I suppose).
So +40% in some conjectured world of National Geographic, but -30% a real possibility on the ground. That's quite a difference in and of itself. Worse than that by far when you think about it. The routes and ridership the Port Authority will lose will inevitably be its longer routes and longer distance riders... So the commuting by auto that will take the place of those routes are proportionally much larger generators of new demand for fuel than the routes the Port Authority is likely to save which are the shorter routes, and the shorter-distance passengers closer in to the city.
It's hard for me to watch any news or commentary on any of this... it all makes so little sense from just a pure consistency point of view. Pro-transit or anti-transit or whatever your thoughts are is up to you... But most seem to want to have their cake and eat it too... thinking they are doing ever more environmentally friendly things, but leaving transit to consolidate into dysfunction. Consider that most 'green' initiatives you can do on your own are likely obviated by commuting by car vice almost any other alternative.
At the end of the day... the trends for transit usage are all down and if that bothers you there isn't anyone really to blame other than ourselves. To borrow a headline: We've met the enemy, and it is us.