Sunday, May 11, 2008

Public transit growing by leaps and bounds

The headlines continue to pile up about rising gas prices pushing commuters out of their cars and onto public transit, and there doesn't seem to be an end to this in sight. For an introduction, check out my article from last month, or read some of the most recent headlines:

New York Times: "Gas Prices Send Surge of Riders to Mass Transit"

Mass transit systems around the country are seeing standing-room-only crowds on bus lines where seats were once easy to come by. Parking lots at many bus and light rail stations are suddenly overflowing, with commuters in some towns risking a ticket or tow by parking on nearby grassy areas and in vacant lots.

“In almost every transit system I talk to, we’re seeing very high rates of growth the last few months,” said William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association.

USAToday: "Interest in mass transit, carpools, scotters jumps"

Commuters across the USA, pushed to the wall by soaring gas prices, increasingly are turning to alternate means of getting to and from work:

Ridership on mass transit is up sharply in many cities, and the heftiest increases are on commuter rail lines. Transit officials say the increase is directly related to gas prices. Daily ridership on South Florida's Tri-Rail, which runs parallel to Interstate 95 from near West Palm Beach to Miami, was 28% higher last month than in April 2007, says Bonnie Arnold, spokeswoman for the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority.

United Press International: "Mass transit ridership surges"

Park-and-ride lots are overflowing and lines to board buses and trains are getting longer around the United States as commuters turn to long-neglected mass transit options to cope with soaring gas prices, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Ottawa's transit is growing, too. As the Ottawa Citizen recently reported, ridership in the nation's capital increased 4.15 per cent in 2007 over 2006, although numbers for 2008 were not available. Councillor Alex Cullen says that the city is running at capacity, and if ridership continues along its current growth, something radical will likely have to be done.

Ottawa is seeing a surge in public transit ridership as rising gasoline prices and increased congestion prompt residents to get on the bus.

Last fall saw a big jump in transit riders, with a 5.8-per-cent increase in October compared with October the previous year, a 6.9-per-cent increase in November and a 4.6-per-cent increase in December. In January, ridership went up 3.1 per cent, in February, it jumped 5.8 per cent and it climbed 1.2 per cent in March.

It's great to see so many people moving to transit, but we've got to make sure we keep the system growing along with ridership. We wouldn't want to have to deal with something like this here in Ottawa:

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