Time is running out to register for next week's The Future of Public Transit, UCLA's 9th Annual Downtown Los Angeles Forum on Transportation, Land Use and the Environment. The conference takes place next week on Wednesday, April 27 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the California Endowment at 1000 North Alameda Street in downtown Los Angeles, one block north of Union Station.
Other topics to be discussed include: Houston's much-heralded frequent bus service reorganization, demographic shifts away from driving, youth and immigrant transit ridership trends, public-private coordination with ride-hail companies including Lyft, lessons from New York City, and CEO Phil Washington on Metro's strategies for expanding ridership.
After the jump, find the conference organizers promotional blurb. See you downtown next week!
By some measures, this a golden era for U.S. public transit. Public investment in transit nationwide has risen faster than inflation since 2000, especially for new capital construction and purchases. The seemingly endless rise in private vehicle ownership and travel in the 20th century has been replaced by flat and even declining vehicle use in the 21st. Here in Los Angeles, we are in the midst of one of the largest transit capital expansions in the nation, funded in large by Measure R.
Yet, public transit competes for customers one trip at a time, and amidst these auspicious trends lies much uncertainty. How will demographic changes affect transit ridership? Will an apparent “back to the city” movement by young adults continue? Will our aging population migrate toward transit as driving becomes more of a challenge? Will the millions of immigrants who have come to the U.S. over the past quarter century — and who are disproportionately transit users — stay on board or drift toward private vehicles? Will new services like Lyft, Uber, and Car2Go enable more car-light/transit-heavy lifestyles, or pull passengers off of buses and trains and into cars?
Today, we will focus on the choice (or lack thereof) to ride transit. Who rides transit and why? We will consider how large societal shifts are likely to change the characteristics of transit riders, and how they will change the nature of transit's competition with other modes. And importantly, we will examine how planners and policymakers can respond to these shifts to plan and run successful systems that serve riders.