Management & Operations

The Big Apple Tops Transit 100

Posted on July 1, 2001 by Janna Starcic, assistant editor

Despite a decrease of 526 buses, MTA New York City Transit is once again the headlining act for METRO’s annual Top 100 Transit Bus Fleets. The agency’s total fleet is now 4,560 buses. New Jersey Transit Corp. is closing the gap between No. 1 and 2 with the addition of 280 buses, bringing its fleet to a total of 3,239. The rise in New Jersey’s fleet numbers can be largely attributed to acquiring mini-buses for paratransit use and community programs. That increase was the largest within our survey this year (see chart for the Top 5 increases). A virtual repeat of last year’s agencies rounds out the Top 10, showing an average fleet size just below the 2,000 mark. The highest leap in the rankings came from Pierce Transit in Tacoma, Wash., which jumped 21 positions to No. 59 on our list. Pierce Transit added 96 buses this year. Our largest bus agencies (covering the United States and Canada) reported 60,039 buses total, 1,149 more than last year. Just a little more than 50% of the transit fleets saw growth for 2001 and 8% of the fleet sizes stayed put. But, like No. 1 ranked New York, 36% of the agencies listed also downsized (compared to 29% for 2000), a figure that mirrors our present economy. We asked an economic question of our own to see if rising fuel costs had affected your ridership in any way, and 41% answered no. The remainder was split between agencies that had experienced such increases and those that felt other factors, such as new buses and special marketing programs, had a positive impact on ridership. The overall composition of the combined fleets remains the same (see pie chart), with buses longer than 35 feet as the dominant force, composing 79.1% of the total. The average fleet size is 599 vehicles, landing just shy of the total fleet of Valley Metro in Phoenix, at No. 33 with 600 buses. The bus-buying projection for next year is down to 6,058 from 6,403 last year. In another downturn, transit agencies are planning to rehab 23% fewer buses, 1,707 total. On an upswing, the segment showing renewed growth this year is vans, an integral part of the paratransit system, with agencies counting 6,306 total, a 17% increase from last year’s 5,372. Forty of the fleets listed this year are 100% compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Altogether, 45,465 buses, or 75.8%, of the combined U.S. and Canadian fleets are wheelchair accessible, up 8% from last year and 15.8% from two years earlier. Roughly half of the transit agencies listed have buses equipped with video surveillance at an average of 27% of the fleet, with more in the works. Joining us again in our Top 100 after a brief absence are North County Transit District in Oceanside, Calif., and Pinellas SunCoast Transit Authority in Clearwater, Fla. Welcome back. Our cutoff this year was 128, a drop from the previous 158, making the list appear more top-heavy than usual. The bottom half of the Top 100 had an average fleet size of 234 buses, about the same as last year, while the Top 50 averaged 965 buses per fleet, compared to 947 in 2000. If you know of a fleet that belongs on our list, please let us know so we can include them next year. For a PDF version of the Top 100, click here.

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