Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Neverending Transit Trend

So the news says there will be ever more cuts to public transit locally.   I tried to get someone to ask the candidates for county executive during the election runup whether or not there would even be public transit in Allegheny County a decade from now.  It was not intended to be a rhetorical question, but given the interest it had during the race it might as well have been. 

One of those things I wish I had more time to do a bit more thoroughly, but looking through past Fact Book's of the American Public Transit Association I came up with the graph below of how the Port Authority of Allegheny County ranks among the top transit agencies in the nation by the number of passenger trips.  I would bet that the 2009 rank there probably does not even capture recent cuts, let alone what is in the news today. 

The missing years are just not reported in any annual fact book they have online, at least as far as my quick look found. Given time one could generate the missing rankings from the data directly. Maybe later.


Anonymous MH said...

Haven't we slipped in terms of relative size by a similar amount?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 1:53:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

No... but yes.

Pittsburgh (the region) is the 22nd largest metro in 2010. I am too lazy to look up exactly what we were in 1988, but it was not that much above that at the time.

but.. this all gets to regional transit. Most all of the larger transit agencies are indeed at least multi-county insome form. So as metros change they can capture that change. Still.. and even if you added in the local transit agencies other than the port authority I bet the general trend is not all that much better.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 2:05:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

To develop a measure of fundamental transit ridership potential, you'd probably want to focus on urbanized areas and factor in things like weighted population and jobs densities.

But of course one might suggest we shouldn't be aspiring to be merely no worse on transit issues than one would predict (for a U.S. city with our characteristics).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger jwsmith1984 said...

It's a question worth raising, though I suspect it's a problem of never missing the water till the well runs dry.

But who's responsible?

Across the country, the 'locals' pick up a bigger share, so it's hard to fault the state for not increasing its subsidy.

But who pays? And how?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 1:05:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I think we can fault the state for not having any kind of plausible mechanism for funding transit. It's been ad hoc'ed for years. I think we can fault local government for various management issues, but they have been getting better. Probably because they had to, but still. Lastly, we can fault students with huge backpacks who stand in the aisle of the 61s. Nobody can get past unless you take of the backpack.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 1:54:00 PM  
Blogger jwsmith1984 said...

The guy with the smile on his face is the guy who's found someone to blame, but it doesn't answer the basic question: Do we want public transit in Allegheny County? Right now it's spiraling downhill fast and no one's stepping up to the plate. It's always easier to pass the buck.

I sympathise with those who get whacked by a backpack, but that's not the issue, and banning backpacks is not going to produce $50 million.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 3:05:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Obviously backpacks aren't costing $50 million. I'm just saying if you could get into CMU or Pitt, you could probably figure out that turning sideways won't make your profile smaller if you have 30 pounds of text and a Dell on your back.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 4:26:00 PM  
Blogger jwsmith1984 said...

Whacked by a backpack, tripped by a briefcase, shunted by an overstuffed shopping bag, or poked in the eye by an umbrella, it's all part of the transit experience! True, it would help if PAT went back to 'urban seating' with wider aisles and fewer seats like the old trolleys and the railcars, but some genius about fifteen years ago decided everyone should have a seat no matter how crowded.

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting to see what happens when everyone wakes up some morning to no busses.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 5:35:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I'm not worried if people get kisses. I'm worried about transit.

I'm on one of the new wide-aisled buses right now and it is much nicer.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 5:40:00 PM  
Blogger jwsmith1984 said...

What a revoltin' development! - a hundred year history (City of Pgh and Mon Valley) of more riders per capita than anywhere in the country - and now.... shagged without even a buss!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 8:39:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

The state is always ultimately in charge of anything below the federal level. In cases where regional and local units have provided more transit funding, it is necessarily because the relevant state has authorized that possibility. And in fact the transportation funding split in general is dictated by the state.

So, if the state is going to be taking a lot of money out of your metro to pay for transportation, you have no choice but to fight at the state level to get a reasonable portion of that funding returned to your metro, in the form that your metro most needs.

Thursday, December 01, 2011 12:45:00 AM  
Anonymous n'at said...

so many variables, but what predominates is the expansion of multinodal transportation patterns in commuting and shopping, as opposed to the olde hub and spoke pre-1950.

Mostly everything was downtown, and if it wasn't, then it was probably a few short blocks away.

population of MSA isn't much larger than Pittsburgh and the contiguous municipalities as far back as (insert correct answer here).

Friday, December 02, 2011 6:47:00 PM  
Blogger jwsmith1984 said...

Not sure I agree that transportation patterns have changed that much - shopping yes, just look at the shopping centres - but Downtown and Oakland remain the draws for jobs, schools, health, & entertainment. East Liberty was the first huge shopping center, fed by the newfangled street car, and the auto certainly did it in. The shopping plazas did in the Downtown department stores, but it was always unsatisfying to spend tons of money for new clothes at Kaufmann's and then have to wait for the big brown truck to come by three days later. Oakland as a hub is overdue, tho.

Friday, December 02, 2011 11:56:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I used to assume the PA hated me for making it absurdly hard to get to Oakland, but they've improved things a great deal on the Squirrel Hill to Oakland front. Things aren't actually much less crowded on the buses, I think because of pent-up demand, but they've added a smaller loop bus and started using the wide-aisled new buses. Big difference.

Sunday, December 04, 2011 8:12:00 PM  

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