Would growing ridership hurt or hinder transit agencies?

Posted on March 16, 2011 by Alex Roman - Also by this author

In a study released earlier this week, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) predicted that public transportation ridership would grow to record numbers as gasoline prices continue to spike.  

The analysis revealed that if regular gas prices reach $4 a gallon across the nation, many experts forecast an additional 670 million passenger trips could be expected, resulting in more than 10.8 billion trips per year, with the report predicting an additional 1.5 billion passenger trips or, an estimated 11.6 billion trips per year, if gas prices rise to $5 a gallon.

It's hard to argue with the report, since public transportation ridership hit record numbers in 2008 when fuel prices escalated. It is also easy to see what a public transportation's impact can be in the communities they serve, whether it's moving more folks because of escalating gas prices or helping to take more vehicles off the road.

What is not so clear from APTA's report, however, is the impact growing ridership would have on public transportation agencies. With budgets continuing to suffer from shortfalls due to a decrease in gas tax revenues and decreased support from state, local and federal governments, would a sudden surge in ridership boost agencies or cause them more hardship?

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "The end of the old oil order" here.

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