Dec 9, 2008

USA Ridership Up

Recent reports from the USA suggesting that that even though gas prices continue to decline, riders are staying with public transit. This trend reaches as far north as Anchorage, Alaska and west to Oahu Hawaii.

The American Public Transportation Association says nationwide, mass transit use has seen a 6.5% jump from July to September. Light rail systems, have seen the largest increase. There is concern that November and December figures will show major declines as gas prices continue to fall.

There are a few of problems for public transit when ridership increases. The first one that everyone will notice, is the over crowding on transit vehicles. Next there is lack of funding to increase service and usually it will result in a fare increase.

Over crowding on buses is more noticeable now than it was 20 years ago. The major reason for this is the low floor bus. The floor space on these buses is considerable less than the older high rise or step-up bus. This adds up or should I say subtracts to lower load capacity and decreased productivity.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston has come up with novel idea on how to increase train capacity on the Red Line subway train. The transit system will roll out a Red Line train with two cars that have just two seats each, compared to the 53 seats on a normal car. The modified cars create standing room for 27 more passengers.

The TTC used to remove passenger seats near the rear doors of the buses. This was done after noticing that people would gather and stand, near the doors. So they were given more standing room.

In Ontario it is difficult to find information on passenger counts. It is something that seems is not made easily available to the public. DRT recently said the counts were up. The counts are mainly expressed in in percentage points. DRT also counts in millions. Tens of millions that is. Announcements are always made at plateau of every 10 million passengers. On Tuesday, September 9, 2008 DRT achieved a 20 million passengers milestone.

I always thought that posting rider counts on the internet would be a useful tool to communicate with. The only transit company that I know of that does this is Branrford Transit. If you happen to know of any others I would like to hear from you.

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