Living Up to the Nation’s Transit Potential

Today on the Streetsblog Network, we’ve got a post about unfulfilled potential — American cities that could do a lot better at getting people to ride transit.

The Transit Pass compares the cities with the top ridership to those with the top population:

3187309192_7e189d1328.jpgRiders boarding light rail in Phoenix. Photo by Michael Ruiz via Flickr.

The cities from the population list that are most conspicuously
missing from the ridership list are Phoenix (214,000 rides per day) and
Dallas (217,000 rides per day). Houston also has low ridership. These
three cities represent the worst of car culture in America. They
were built around the car and without public transit in mind. However,
there is certainly hope in both Dallas and Houston as they build up their respective public transit systems.

Public transit is a necessary growth item across the country, but if
it is to be successful, it should be aimed at the largest metropolitan
areas first. These areas have the best captive audience seeking to get
to work and other downtown or central areas. The country as a whole is
in need of more transit options. However, the culture of transit must
occur in our largest cities first. New York is doing its part, as are
Chicago and Boston (not that there isn’t room for improvement).  More
energy needs to be focused on America’s heartland cities that do not
have the culture and were largely built up in the age of the automobile.

the subject of Phoenix: We know from following our member blogs out
there that there are plenty of folks working to realize the city’s
transit potential. While the city and the surrounding communities may
be lagging in ridership right now, they’ve got a new light rail system that has motivated a lot of people.

Member blog Light Rail AZ has a post today on an upcoming meeting at the Tempe Transportation Center (which boasts, among other amenities, a bicycle facility
with secure parking and showers). The subject is one that might have
been considered laughable in that area just a short time ago —
"Transit and Livable Communities."

And Light Rail Blogger is living a carfree experiment that wouldn’t be possible without the new system. 

Our network of bloggers,
which is now more than 325 strong, is a great on-the-ground resource
for information about how people all across the country — even in such
bastions of the automobile as Phoenix — are pushing back against the
dominance of the car. And helping America realize its potential for
sustainable transportation.

  • Winston

    The transit pass only includes LA MTA, LADOT and Metrolink in their transit numbers but includes Orange County in its population numbers. If you add in all the smaller agencies in the MSA you get a total for LA of 2,173,000 daily riders.

    Similarly for Chicago if you include Metra and Arlington Heights 2,072,400

  • Winston

    oops. The last sentence of my post should read: “Similarly, for Chicago if you add Metra and Arlington Heights you get 2,072,400 daily riders”



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