For almost a decade, transit ridership has declined
across Southern California despite costly efforts to entice people out of their
cars and onto buses and trains, and transportation officials are trying to
figure out why, it was reported today.
The Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the region’s
largest carrier, which calls itself Metro, lost more than 10 percent of its
boardings from 2006 to 2015 — a decline that appears to be accelerating, the
Los Angeles Times reported this morning.
Despite a $9 billion investment in new light rail and subway lines,
Metro now has fewer boardings than it did three decades ago, when buses were
the county’s only transit option, the newspaper reported.
Most other agencies fare no better. In Orange County, bus ridership
plummeted 30 percent in the last seven years, while some smaller bus operators
across the region have experienced declines approaching 25 percent, according
to The Times.
In the last two years alone, a Metro study found that 16 transit
providers in Los Angeles County saw average quarterly declines of 4 percent to
Years after the end of the worst recession since World War II, which
prompted deep service cuts, transit agencies are still trying to figure out
where their riders have gone and how to bring them back, including changing
routes and schedules, according to The Times.
Officials say ridership is cyclical and customers will return as traffic
congestion worsens, bus service improves, new rail lines open and more of the
region’s population moves to walkable neighborhoods near transit stops.
But some experts say the downturn could represent a permanent shift in
how people get around, propelled by a changing job market, falling gas prices,
fare increases, declining immigration and the growing popularity of other
transportation options, including bicycling and ride-hailing companies such as
Uber and Lyft, according to The Times.