Transit Irony: The More You Rely on It, the More They Cut
Publisher: Labor Notes
Date Written: 01/05/2014
Year Published: 2014
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20575
Transit ridership is at its highest since 1956, with 10.7 billion trips in 2013, according to the American Public Transportation Association. This is despite widespread cuts to bus and rail service -- and rising fares. The 2008 economic crisis started the pinch, but federal and local officials have continued to squeeze.
Transit authorities often push cuts onto the people most dependent on public transportation, sometimes frankly called "captive riders." They focus resources instead on luring tourists and "choice riders" out of their cars. The latter goal is a good one, but it shouldn't come at the expense of people who have no transportation option. In Pittsburgh, for example, bus riders are still feeling the cuts begun during the crisis, while the city's seen a boost in light rail, which caters to tourists and people with cars. In 2011 the transit authority cut its budget by 15 percent, eliminating 29 bus routes. It laid off 180 workers and reduced hours for more. The cuts continued the following year, and the region lost tens of thousands of bus riders. Some switched to cars, if they had one, or carpooling. Others walk now. "We have whole segments of our community that dont have any transit at all," driver Mike Harms said. In neighborhoods where service was slashed, "people have to walk a mile to a bus stop."