Playing with Ridership Numbers

Jarrett Walker argues that reports of the decline of public transportation ridership have been exaggerated.

Jarrett writes that one of the main reasons the numbers are confused is that they lump together areas of low transit use and high transit use into "metropolitan areas".

"Metro areas, by definition, conflate a dense core city and a lot of low-density suburbs, and thus conceal the dramatic difference between transit's relevance in those places. Metro area statistics may be useful for judging the relative economic performance of different parts of a country, but they always conceal most of what matters in understanding how transit really works. If you want to understand how and why transit works and fails, you should spend less time comparing metro Los Angeles and metro New York and more time comparing Manhattan with Nassau County, or comparing the LA/Hollywood core with the western San Fernando Valley."

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