Bus

Publisher's Perspective: Transit seeking ways to combat declining bus ridership

Posted on December 1, 2017 by James Blue, GM

A growing number of transit agencies are taking these pages from the ride-sharing playbook, particularly for first/last mile connections to rapid transit. Other agencies have been partnering with the more famous services in this sector.
Photo courtesy LA Metro
A growing number of transit agencies are taking these pages from the ride-sharing playbook, particularly for first/last mile connections to rapid transit. Other agencies have been partnering with the more famous services in this sector.
Photo courtesy LA Metro

This past May, I discussed factors that may be contributing to a disturbing trend in recent years — declining bus patronage — and ways to combat it. We know that it is not confined to bus operations, as some rail lines have also struggled. A few cities have bucked the trend, however, and we looked at how they might be transferred to others. Since then, a range of additional ideas have emerged, which also have shown some promise.

Reasons are more complicated than thought earlier
As was pointed out last spring, lack of funding accounts for the patronage drops in some cities (Chicago and Washington, for example). But in many, new studies suggest that transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft are beginning to take a toll. Changing socioeconomic factors has also played a large role in many cities. For the first time in many decades, ridership trends have not tracked improvements in employment; in fact, in some cities, ridership has actually dropped as job growth improved.

The bus restructuring implementations have had mixed results as more data have come in. Put simply, some such projects have been found to cost considerably more than projected, while others have not worked as well as projected. More study obviously is needed, ones that are tailored to local situations.

Since the last column on the subject, a new idea has emerged called “microtransit.” It involves dynamic ride-sharing like Uber and Lyft, but with public transportation directly operating it with transit-qualified drivers and vehicles. A growing number of transit agencies are taking these pages from the ride-sharing playbook, particularly for first/last mile connections to rapid transit. Other agencies have been partnering with the more famous services in this sector. The most ambitious of the microtransit projects is Los Angeles County Metro’s tender for a feasibility study, which, if determined to be a good idea, will roll out in a pilot program at six rapid transit stations in the next few years. Whatever its outcome, however, it’s a development that bears watching.

Deal with the challenges — before hostile forces do it for us
As was stated before — and is worth repeating —the industry cannot abide fatalism. There are many ways to deal with the ridership challenge, old and new, and those hostile to any government support for transit succeed in ending it, because we did not rise to the new challenge.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Alexander Dennis lands double-deck bus order

The 13 buses will have capacity for 120 passengers, 79 of them seated, and will enter service from July 2019 to replace and enlarge tl’s double-deck fleet.

Nova Bus lands largest North American bus order

The five-year contract, covering the period from 2020 to 2024, calls for the delivery of 497 40-foot hybrid buses LFS HEV and up to 1,028 vehicles on option.

BusCon 2018 set to return to Indianapolis in October

Registration is open now for this year's show, which will include a look at electric buses and autonomous vehicles, as well as training courses from NTI and EnerDel.

Creative Bus Sales orders 100 GreenPower buses

The order includes the 15 buses for inventory and demonstration that are on order with GreenPower.

First Transit names new VP, west region operations

Fadi Chakbazof will be responsible for all operations in the west region, reporting directly to Beverly Edwards, COO.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close