How Mass Transit Can Adapt to Post-Pandemic Needs

With commuter ridership playing a smaller role in transit operations, agencies must reorganize their services around different travel schedules and patterns.

1 minute read

January 11, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Public Transit Ridership

Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock

Writing in Governing, Skip Descant assesses how U.S. mass transit systems, which historically relied largely on commuter travel for the bulk of their ridership revenue, can adapt to new ridership patterns and adjust their services to serve new needs.

For transit agencies in Washington, D.C., where 66 percent of commuters now work from home at least part time, this is now an existential question. “Ridership on Metro, the network of trains and buses serving the nation’s capital, during the first six months of this year was down 64 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2019, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).”

Some of the ways agencies are addressing these challenges: focusing on system reliability; removing friction points for users; launching more mobility options, like small shuttles linking restaurants and attractions; providing on-demand microtransit; and more focus on the first-mile/last-mile obstacles.

Transportation experts say agencies must rethink their service schedules, make it easier to access transit and make connections between systems, and focus on “transit planning that accommodates all of the other non-work trips we take — errand running, trips to schools and doctor’s appointments.” 

Sunday, January 8, 2023 in Governing

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