Public Transit

Walkability and Transit Mean Independence in Golden Years

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Transit-accessible Dupont CircleMost adults want to age in place; that is, grow older without the need to move from their home or community. As driving becomes a challenge, though, seniors can feel dependent upon others, or isolated and cut off from their friends or public services. Communities that have strong public transit systems and walkable amenities are increasingly attractive to seniors for the independence they instill. These places — like Washington D.C.’s Dupont Circle, shown above — are also associated with high housing costs, however, illuminating the pressing need in the U.S. for more transit, and more connected communities, as the Boomer generation ages.

Transit’s Surprising Advantage is Sitting Right in Your Pocket

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab. Edited for this site.]

Metra Commuters

With public-transit use riding a 58-year high of 10.8 billion trips last year, it only makes sense to ask: why? Technology may be partially responsible for public transit’s record ridership, but probably not in the way you think.

As smartphones and other electronic devices have skyrocketed in popularity, more people are becoming dependent on them (much to the chagrin of some psychologists). These technology-dependent commuters want to to remain engaged with their devices at all times, and more of them are choosing public transit for the ease at which they can do so while riding the bus or train.

A new study by DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development finds that the most avid users of mobile devices may be boosting Chicago’s transit ridership numbers, and there is reason to believe this trend is occurring in other metropolitan areas. Apple, Google, and Amazon aren’t just changing the way we work, communicate, and socialize, but are also influencing our transportation choices as well.

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Two Main Reasons D.C. Transit Ridership is Decreasing

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab and GreaterGreaterWashington]

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Americans took a record 10.75 billion trips on public transportation in 2014, according to annual ridership statistics released this month by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

This is up from 10.65 billion trips in 2013, with the number of trips outpacing population growth. In a year of low gasoline prices, the increase is welcome news for the public transportation industry.

Nevertheless, CityLab’s Eric Jaffe has advised caution at reading too much into these numbers, pointing out that New York City’s transit ridership skews the data, and that overall, bus ridership is down. Also, Washington D.C.’s ridership numbers have been decreasing. Apart from the ART Bus in Arlington, Washingtonians’ use of public transportation declined between 2013 and 2014. The decreases are not dramatic, but are still worrisome.

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The Down Side of Low Gas Prices

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

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Our wallets may feel a bit heaver these days, due to the current five-year low in U.S. gasoline prices (to under $2 per gallon in some locations). These same low gas prices, though, also produce some unexpected negative consequences.

Two new studies demonstrate, specifically, how low gas prices impact transit ridership and property values.

Gas Prices and Transit Ridership

A new study from the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) finds that public-transit ridership increases when gas prices go up. This suggests that, when gas prices are low, the demand for public transit might suffer.

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Yes, America, Transit is Safe

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

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Transit is a very safe form of transportation, not only in terms of safety from accidents, but also in terms of personal security from crimes and theft.

new study authored by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute argues that the narrative for transit needs to be changed to emphasize this fact.

Litman’s study reports that transit travel has about one-tenth the traffic injury and death rate as automobile travel. Furthermore, residents of transit-oriented communities have about one-fifth the per capita crash casualty rate as those in automobile-oriented communities.

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Transit is a Commonality of Booming, Vibrant Cities

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab and In the Capital]

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The smartest move for real-estate developers is to continue investing in cities that have many transportation options available to their potential tenants.

And growing cities need to embrace transit-oriented development to remain competitive.

Those are the findings of a recent report that explores 10 major cities (Mexico City, Manhattan, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, Washington D.C., Miami, Atlanta, Boston, and San Francisco) experiencing rapid population growth. Most commercial and residential development in these places has been transit oriented.

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Where You Live Determines Whether You Use Transit

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[Written by Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

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Transportation choice in America is largely a product of where one lives, which is both directly and indirectly dependent upon core values and attitudes.

This is a major finding in TransitCenter’s Who’s on Board: The 2014 Mobility Attitudes Survey, and it supports the idea that transportation and land use are inextricably linked.

While there is a high demand for quality public transportation nationwide, such infrastructure is often missing in the places where Americans currently live. The findings support the idea that there is an unmet demand for mixed-use, walkable urban places – called WalkUPs, a term coined by Christopher Leinberger, chair of George Washington University’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis.

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