Transit ridership was declining across the country before the pandemic, The pandemic, together with innovation and technology has created paradigm shifts away from riding transit.
More telecommuters working from home mean less commuters are on the road or on transit. The "choice" transit rider has disappeared. People prefer the security of their individual vehicles to keep them safe and healthy.
Our local Tampa Bay transit expert Steve Polzin recently did a study about the impact of the pandemic on public transit for Reason stating:
Public transportation is uniquely sensitive to changes in the number of people working from home, changes in commuting patterns, and concerns over public health and safety.
COVID-19 has produced changes in the behavior of individuals, businesses, and governments.
Public transportation is among those sectors disrupted by COVID-19 and unlikely to return to pre-COVID-19 conditions.
Polzin's study found here states transit ridership decreased 65% from April 2020 to April 2021 during this past year of the COVID pandemic.
This decline in transit ridership creates financial distress because as the revenue per passenger mile decreases, the cost per passenger mile increases. This financial distress is not sustainable.
|Transit ridership tanks |
across all modes
Polzin states in his study that "additional funding should be driven by careful analysis of the financial condition of agencies and discernment of a sound, policy-driven program of support."
In other words, taxpayers should not be forced to keep throwing our tax dollars at failed and failing public transit agencies.
Paradigm shifts, including telecommuting, tele-health, online business transactions and virtual communications have put transit agencies in financial peril. Politico acknowledges transit ridership was declining before the pandemic and now the paradigm shifts are eliminating the need for using traditional public transit:
Transit ridership had been falling for years before the pandemic shut down much of the U.S. economy last spring, and it's likely that the virus will only accelerate some of the trends behind that decline. Those include hastening the migration of jobs and people away from dense cities, where transit works best, as well as a newfound enthusiasm for letting employees work from home.The pandemic, in addition to the ease of using of technology, is also causing people to consider changes to where they live. The notion that one needs to live near where they work is no longer a valid claim, especially for parents who may consider schools for their children or homeschooling their children much more important.
..individuals and businesses have adapted behaviors and altered practices to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.Polzin highlights that our app based, on demand society was providing ride-share, bike-share, e-scooters before the pandemic. These new services were providing travel choices that people valued, were willing to pay for and contributing to a decline in transit ridership before the pandemic.
..communications as a substitute to travel has been actively deployed in many areas, from telework to e-commerce, telemedicine, web-based meetings in lieu of traditional business communications, distance learning, delivery of restaurant meals and online worship services among others.
|HART Ridership Decline|