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miaht82 Jan 12, 2010 4:06 PM

Transit Use is Growing, But Not Where You Think
Found this on by way of Josh Baugh's posting on mySA's Move It! blog. Of course it reminds us that Keith Parker, VIA's president, came from Charlotte.


Transit saw some big ridership increases over the past few years, but maybe not where you'd expect. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the top ten metropolitan areas where transit use has increased the most.

Since the 1950s, public transit hasn't exactly been the primary focus of most American cities. But it's out there, in pockets. New York City's subway system carries 1.5 billion riders per year. Washington D.C.'s metro sees a little more than 200 million annually. Chicago's carries about the same. By U.S. standards these systems are well-used and extensive. But the big boys of American transit aren't the whole story. Transit use is growing in many U.S. metropolitan areas, and the strongest growth is occurring where you might not expect.

Metro areas like Charlotte, NC, Detroit, MI, and Riverside, CA, have seen the nation's highest increases in transit use between 2006 and 2008. The following list shows the top 10 metropolitan statistical areas, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, where commuting by public transportation has grown the most. None of them are among the nation's top 10 most populous metro areas, and yet seven are within the top 20. So what's behind the story? Why are these smaller metros topping larger regions when it comes to growth in transit use?

The data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, which is collected from a random sampling of U.S. residents on a monthly basis. The data used in this analysis was collected between 2006 and 2008, and represents the commuting patterns of Americans 16 and older. Due to the relatively small sampling size of this data collection effort, American Community Survey data can have a relatively high margin of error. Only metropolitan statistical areas with margins of error less than 15% have been included in this analysis. Because of this sample size issue, these data are most accurately represented as percentages, rather than hard figures.

The data can be interpreted to indicate a trend rather than a completely accurate count, but are bolstered by other local and national trends and developments like a spike in oil prices in 2008 and the expansion of transit services.

"We brought service to where it was needed, and that was reflected in our ridership numbers," said Bradley Weaver, a spokesman at the Riverside Transit Agency, where transit commuting increased by 26.7%, the third highest increase in the country.

The population of the metro increased by just under 2% between 2006 and 2008, the second lowest rate of increase among metros in the top ten, and median earnings of workers rose by about 2.5% during that time. But the median income level of people commuting on transit rose by more than 15%, according to a comparison of data from the American Community Survey. Essentially, the number indicates that people with higher income levels became more likely to ride public transit to work.

The Detroit metro area has seen its population decimated in recent years, but the need for transit hasn't gone away.

"On certain lines, ridership has skyrocketed," said Tiffany Draper, a transportation planner with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. "But overall, ridership has been pretty steady."

Figures from the American Community Survey show a 30% increase in commuting by transit between 2006 and 2008 in the Detroit metro area, though Draper says the boost was likely a reaction to rising oil prices.

Ridership increases around the country have been linked to the temporary jump in oil prices last year, when the price of oil peaked at more than $147 per barrel in July 2008.

"We had 40% higher gas prices last year that were sending people to come ride public transit," said Olaf Kinard, director of marketing at the Charlotte Area Transit System. The Charlotte metro area saw the largest increase in transit commuters between 2006 and 2008, at a rate of 47%. The area also saw a big jump in the median earning level of its riders, with earnings rising nearly 40% over that time period.

Read entire story...

tgannaway89 Jan 26, 2010 5:04 AM

The 281 Super-Street project has been awarded.

Dom"n"Converse Jan 26, 2010 2:10 PM


VIA may approve route for streetcar
By Josh Baugh - Express-News VIA Metropolitan Transit’s board today could approve the route for San Antonio’s first modern streetcar line as the agency prepares to ask the federal government to pay for a substantial portion of it.

The agency is rushing to meet a Feb. 8 deadline for applications to a Federal Transit Administration program announced last month that would help fund streetcar projects. VIA is seeking $25 million for a north-south starter system that would be a bit more than two miles long and run along Broadway and South Alamo Street, roughly from Josephine Street to South St. Mary’s Street.

For applications to be seriously considered, officials have said, they must include a proposed route and local funding commitments. VIA plans to include both in its submission...

miaht82 Jan 26, 2010 4:43 PM

We're getting the money. It's happening this time.:yes:

From the VIAblog:


VIA Blog

Investments in transit produce more jobs

Posted: 1/21/2010

Earlier this month, Smart Growth America, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the U.S. federation of state Public Interest Research Groups together put out a report titled "What we learned from the stimulus: And how to use what we learned to speed job creation in the 2010 jobs bill".

The report unequivocally states that stimulus funding spent on public transportation projects was more effective in producing jobs than similar dollars spent on highway projects. For every one billion dollars spent on public transportation, for example, 16,419 job-months were produced compared to 8,781 job-months for every one billion dollars spent on highway infrastructure. The analysis on Smart Growth America's website even includes a sidebar case study that focuses on Texas.

As of October 31, Texas had obligated 100% of its transit fixed guideway apportionments; 96% of its transit capital assistance apportionments; and 64% of its Surface Transportation Program (STP) apportionment, which it obligated almost entirely to highways. More important, 65% of Texas' transit apportionment dollars were under contract, while only 46% of highway infrastructure dollars were under contract.

Transit contracts in Texas supported 38,317 job-months per billion dollars expended while highway contracts supported just 7,596. As a result, although Texas received six times more STP funds than transit funds, the transit funds created more total jobs: as of October 31, [sic]

9,135 job-months supported by transit contracts versus 7,937 supported by highway contracts.

If the funding sent to Texas for surface transportation had been allocated on a 50-50 basis, $1.31 billion each to roads and to public transportation, then, liberally assuming a contract rate of 65% for each, $852 million under contract for transit would be supporting (.852 x 38317) or 32,626 job-months created or retained, and $852 Million under contract for highways would be supporting 6762 job-months created or retained. This is a total of 39,388 job-months, versus (9135+7937) or 17,032 under the current split in that state. A balanced distribution would have produced 22,356 more (or 2.3 times as many) job-months.

That's a lot of numbers to ponder, but it all boils down to this: transit investments result in more people working, even in Texas.

oldmanshirt Jan 26, 2010 5:19 PM

Too bad SSP doesn't have a "like" button like facebook :tup:

Keep-SA-Lame Jan 26, 2010 6:42 PM


Originally Posted by oldmanshirt (Post 4667646)
Too bad SSP doesn't have a "like" button like facebook :tup:

what he said. :cheers:

kornbread Jan 26, 2010 7:09 PM


The agency is rushing to meet a Feb. 8 deadline
There's nothing like waiting till the last minute:rolleyes:

I do like the proposed routes and they should make it happen even if they don't get federal funding.

UrbanTrance Jan 27, 2010 2:25 AM

Great, I hope this starts! Some of those people's comments on there bother me though...

Edit: Could you all imagine what this could do for downtown and the center of the city?

SALaw1 Jan 27, 2010 5:59 PM

Based on that map, it looks like the starter route could directly connect Incarnate Word, Brackenridge Park, and the Witte Museum to downtown. The Zoo, Botanical Gardens, Fort Sam, and San Antonio Museum of Art would all be within walking distance, depending on the alternative routes. That's pretty darn good considering the imminent growth at Fort Sam, the Witte's expansion plans, etc.

miaht82 Jan 27, 2010 6:31 PM


Originally Posted by Alice93 (Post 4668559)
Great, I hope this starts! Some of those people's comments on there bother me though...

Edit: Could you all imagine what this could do for downtown and the center of the city?

Well it looks like it WAS approved (article said "could approve.")

We all assumed that it would be a route up Broadway and now that we know it is, it's definitely a good thing considering that there are more possibilities of development along the entire corridor. Fort Sam's connection is going to be key for these develompents to take off.

tgannaway89 Feb 10, 2010 2:27 PM

VIA gave a presentation of their planned streetcar system.

alexjon Feb 10, 2010 8:39 PM

Good, build it yesterday!

KevinFromTexas Feb 11, 2010 1:13 PM

Update on the planned street car line on Broadway.


Web Posted: 02/09/2010 7:01 CST
Bexar County endorses streetcar plan

By Guillermo X. Garcia - Express-News

An all-electric streetcar system largely along Broadway could be up and running by summer 2014 if an aggressive funding plan presented to Bexar County commissioners Tuesday goes as hoped.

The first stage of the proposed plan, a 2.2-mile stretch from the site of the former Pearl Brewery to the St. Mary's-Alamo intersection south of downtown, would cost nearly $90 million and take two years to construct after two years of engineering and design work, VIA Metropolitan Transit President Keith Parker said.

The commissioners unanimously endorsed the plan, which takes its first major step today when VIA applies for a $25 million federal grant.


alexjon Feb 11, 2010 3:57 PM

Shhhhhhhhh, nobody tell Austin.

sirkingwilliam Feb 11, 2010 7:37 PM


Originally Posted by tgannaway89 (Post 4691729)

I attended the east side summit last weekend and spoke with Keith Parker who told me (and also said it during his presentation) that if all goes well the entire 8 mile east-west streetcar line could be up and running by 2016.

The 2.2 mile north-south line would be up by 2014 with the total 10 mile north-south line being complete by 2017.

oldmanshirt Feb 11, 2010 8:47 PM

There's something about a streetcar running in front of the Alamo that just looks so. . . right

Hopefully the fact that SA's economy is doing as well as any in the country will help ensure the private funding comes through. However, a fairly efficient and well-maintained freeway system makes me nervous we won't get the Federal money. Fingers crossed.

jaga185 Feb 11, 2010 11:44 PM


Originally Posted by alexjon (Post 4692464)
Good, build it yesterday!

love this! lol

But seriously though, that rendering looks great!

UrbanTrance Feb 11, 2010 11:44 PM

It just makes it complete. I hope all goes well because I am definitely interested in living downtown some time in the future.

UrbanTrance Feb 12, 2010 2:12 AM


Originally Posted by KevinFromTexas (Post 4693834)
Update on the planned street car line on Broadway.

Wait, when are they going to D.C. to get funding?

wwmiv Feb 12, 2010 6:44 AM


Originally Posted by alexjon (Post 4694002)
Shhhhhhhhh, nobody tell Austin.

:haha: :haha: :haha: :haha: :haha: :worship:

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