Transit Needs Service Changes, Now More Than Ever

As travel patterns and needs shift, transit agencies should look at service changes as a much-needed 'regular practice.'

September 7, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Rockaway Beach Bus

el_cigarrito / Shutterstock

In a guest post for TransitCenter, Laurel Paget-Seekins argues that, despite the challenges, "transit service needs to change in response to the COVID pandemic and to address underlying inequities." Although "[i]n general the status quo favors people and communities with access to political power," she writes, "this inertia was starting to give way, as agencies launched bus network redesigns to catch up on years of delayed service changes. COVID made it even more imperative to reassess service provision, as the pandemic altered travel patterns and revealed where and when service is most needed."

"Even as the pandemic (hopefully) recedes, the changes in travel needs will last for years as new patterns of remote work, deliveries, and land use take shape." As such, service changes   must become "a regular practice," and "we need to find ways for agencies and communities to work through them collaboratively."

Paget-Seekins offers some suggestions for how agencies can address service changes in the future:

  • "Transit advocates and agencies need to address the operating funding issue head-on and proactively."
  • "Agencies need to work with community organizations, elected officials, and their governance boards to commit to a process of regular service changes for the next few years — even if there isn’t a funding crisis."
  • "Agencies and community organizations also need to collaborate on the data that will inform decisions."

According to Paget-Seekins, "[i]t will be a huge disservice to riders for transit service to get stuck due to the perceived political difficulty of service changes — or for the service conversation to be driven only by fiscal emergencies and not community transportation needs."

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