Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mass Transit Use On The Rise

Last spring when I was taking the commuter bus into downtown Austin to work I would notice a spike in ridership whenever fuel prices were on the rise. As I'm starting back to work on Monday, I am looking forward to seeing the numbers now almost a year since I last rode the bus.

It's nice to see more people using 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.

Unfortunately I have a new fear. I hope the cities are able to keep up with the demand by increasing service.
But meeting the greater demand for mass transit is proving difficult. The cost of fuel and power for public transportation is about three times that of four years ago, and the slowing economy means local sales tax receipts are down, so there is less money available for transit services. Higher steel prices are making planned expansions more expensive. Denver is already having issues.

And of course, my other concern is if my bus is standing-room-only, I'm going to have a difficult time dealing with that.

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