Even as gas prices rise, ridership on many public transit systems continues to remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

1 minute read

July 17, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Nighttime bus interior with one rider standing by door

donikz / Empty bus

In a piece for Marketplace, Savannah Maher describes the slow return of public transit ridership, which remains sluggish despite high gas prices, which some agencies hoped “would nudge some of us onto city buses and trains and help transit ridership recover from the nosedive it took during the pandemic.”

With remote work still hugely popular, transit systems in tech hubs like San Francisco are still seeing low ridership numbers. In the case of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), ridership sits at 30 to 35 percent of pre-pandemic levels, when the system carried roughly 400,000 people across the Bay Area every weekday.

Some agencies have reduced or eliminated fares to lure riders back, but the future of fare-free transit programs hinges on uncertain funding sources. But while free fares or service changes may help bring riders back, the prevalence of remote work means that some changes in commuting patterns are likely here to stay, upending long-established models of service geared towards 9-to-5 commutes. Systems in cities with high numbers of remote workers will likely have to make some transformative changes to serve the needs of remaining riders and establish new funding models that rely less heavily on farebox revenue to fund operations.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022 in Marketplace

Aerial view of homes on green hillsides in Daly City, California.

Depopulation Patterns Get Weird

A recent ranking of “declining” cities heavily features some of the most expensive cities in the country — including New York City and a half-dozen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

April 10, 2024 - California Planning & Development Report

Close-up of maroon California 'Clean Air Vehicle' carpool lane access sticker on the back bumper of a silver Tesla vehicle.

California EV Owners To Lose Carpool Lane Privilege

A program that began in 1999 to encourage more electric car ownership is set to expire next year without Congressional and state action.

April 2, 2024 - San Francisco Chronicle

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Google street view of grassy lot next to brick church with elevated freeway on other side in Houston, Texas.

Houston Supportive Housing Development Sparks Debate

Critics say a proposed apartment building would negatively impact the neighborhood’s walkability.

April 12 - Houston Chronicle

Closed black wrought iron gate in front of gated residential community with large palm trees along sides of street.

Friday Funny: Gated Community Doubles Down

The Onion skewers suburbia.

April 12 - The Onion

Aerial view of Chicago with river in foreground.

‘Cut the Tape’ Report Takes Aim at Inefficiencies

A set of recommendations from the Chicago mayor’s office calls for streamlining city processes to stimulate more residential and commercial development.

April 12 - Block Club Chicago

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.