Saturday, September 17, 2005

Gas & Transit

According to the WaPo, mass transit ridership has jumped quite a bit in a lot of areas presumably due to increased gas prices. Assuming the causal relationship is genuine, it's actually a much bigger jump than I'd expect. The fact is for most people mass transit is really not a reasonable substitute for an automobile commute, even focusing on places which actually have transit systems.

The real question is whether high gas prices will create more public demand for better transit:

In Dallas, an increase in ridership in the past month on DART has resulted in "incredibly creative parking at some outlying stations," and the service received a growing number of complaints from motorists demanding to know why the system doesn't serve their destinations, according to DART spokesman Morgan Lyons.

While a train fan myself, I'm actually quite stunned at the ridership figures in Minnesota:

August light rail ridership hit a new record: an estimated 838,500 people boarded the Hiawatha line trains.

The numbers: 691,000 were weekday rides. The number is up sharply from a year ago when August 2004 ridership was recorded at 476,800 - before the south end of the line opened to Bloomington until December. This August, five south end stations accounted for about 35 percent of total rides, Metro Transit reports.