For those of us who support expanded public transit, this news from the Chicago Transit Authority should be encouraging: The CTA on Wednesday announced that 2008 combined bus and rail ridership increased by 26.8 million rides, a gain of 5.4 percent over 2007...
For those of us who support expanded public transit, this news from the Chicago Transit Authority should be encouraging:
The CTA on Wednesday announced that 2008 combined bus and rail ridership increased by 26.8 million rides, a gain of 5.4 percent over 2007. The total of 526.4 million rides is the most since 1992 and the marks highest single-year ridership gain in 34 years.
But at the same time, seeing CTA ridership grow at such a pace while the system itself remains underfunded is worrying. With more and more drivers now flocking to public transit, we have a real opportunity to continue this trend and ensure its long-term benefits. But as a CTA insider told The Nation's Chris Hayes earlier this week, unless we change the way the agency is funded, the system is not going to be able to handle the new demand:
Right now we cannot meet our ridership demand w/our existing capital infrastructure. We don't have enough buses, trains or rail lines to meet it. So there is a real need. And of course we'd argue that not only can't we meet it, but from a policy standpoint the region should make decisions that encourage even more transit ridership (like greater levels of subsidization for operating costs, so we can lower fares). Transit is a money losing venture if you look at money put in v. revenues generated. And it SHOULD be. If we asked our riders to pay the actual cost of a ride, we're talking about $6 per ride. That is not only untenable, but exactly the opposite of how we should ask our customers to support us given the benefits we provide. We should find progressive funding mechansisms (congestion pricing) because the actual transaction for taxpayers and metropolitan regions continues to be one that greatly favors transit investment.