Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the easy part

With some small bit of drama, the Port Authority once again squeaks by and gets state financial support. The vote enabling the money came via the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC).. and in what must be a first for SPC, their meeting was live tweeted as well (need a hashtag for that in the future). 

I hate to say that was all the easy part.  The harder part is dealing with continuing ridership declines.  Other than a brief tick up corresponding to the hysteria surrounding the rapid increase in gas and energy prices a few years ago, the overall trend in Port Authority ridership has reverted back to its long term downward trend. Over last 3 years annual decline is averaging over 2%/year.  Note that Allegheny County population change over that time is nearly flat, though that is from census estimates.  We will obviously get new decennial census population counts in the spring. So that trend likely represents continuing change in mode among commuters more than anything else, though that is a study worth doing.

This is what I see for the Port Authority ridership trend. :

Source: Compiled from data published by APTA. Note the measurement is in thousands.

Which when you add in the fact that Downtown and Oakland employment levels are strong you have to wonder how everyone is getting to work. (yes, all policy issues in this town are connected, though we keep debating them piecemeal over and over again.)  Then you realize why parking downtown remains quite full.  Add in greater enrollment at local colleges and universities and I suspect a growing spatial concentration in services such as for hospitals and you really must get a greater potential demand for transit services year over year.  Still fewer and fewer on the bus (or T.. .though T ridership is steadier than bus ridership).

Note I just picked April to plot because I wanted to compare a particular month to be clear and free of seasonal issues  There is data out through June, but I didn't want to use a summer month since one could argue that isn't fair to the Port Authority because of all the students that make up its ridership through the year.  So I picked April as the most recent month I wanted to compare.  Other than that the month is arbitrary and I think I will have to come back to this when data from the fall is out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a rider per bus stat in that data? Seems that with some of the more far-flung routes being chopped over the past few years, the overall decline could be attributed more to less access than less demand.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 9:22:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

There have also been some fare increases recently, to go along with service cuts.

As I recall the hope was that the TDP would increase ridership by about 10% within 1-2 years of full implementation. Even assuming that is true, full implementation is a long way off, and the funding crisis probably isn't helping.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the bus drivers just stopped pressing the fare button three times for every passenger.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous n'at said...

I want to see ridership numbers beginning before the '92 strike.

Additionally, the population increases within Allegheny County are occurring at the fringes, adjacent to Canonsburg and Cranberry. If the overall population remains steady and the growth is at the fringes, then it seems reasonable to consider transit trips to downtown are now single occupant vehicle trips to Butler and Washington Counties.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 6:09:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Have DUI arrests been going down?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 9:28:00 PM  

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