Over the past 25 years, the population of the Pittsburgh urban area
has remained fixed at about 1.8 million people. Driving, however, has
increased by almost 50 percent.
During this period, Pittsburgh has spent hundreds of millions of
dollars upgrading light-rail lines, building exclusive busways, and "”
in the latest project "” building a $435 million transit tunnel under the Allegheny River. Despite (or because of) this investment, transit ridership has dropped by more than 25 percent.
Although the numbers vary slightly from place to place, Pittsburgh's
story is pretty typical of transit everywhere. Sure, some cities have
seen ridership gains, but subsidies to transit are huge and transit
does not make a notable (meaning 5 percent or more) contribution to
personal mobility in any urban area except New York (where it is 10
He has a good summary of what's wrong and what might work instead. I appreciated this observation in particular:
Why do we put up with this? The answer, of course, is that transit is
pork. "For most transit agencies in the United States, if they were to
write a mission statement that is reflective of what they do, they
would indicate that they exist for the purpose of serving their
employees and vendors," not transit riders, notes Cox.