Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Transit Usage

Statistics Canada is a treasure trove of information when it comes to information about public transit in Canada. I found a report from 2000 called, “Factors Affecting Urban Transit Ridership”. The report looked at transit ridership in the 1990’s. Between 1990 and 1997 transit ridership dropped in Canada.

The report looked at some of the reason why including: family size, monthly cost of transit passes, employment opportunities, taxes, fuel costs, parking fees, automobile insurance costs, vehicle operating costs, demographics, ridership loyalty, parking rates, convenience, a change in work schedules, telecommuting, distance to work, and community size. The report also looked at how road pricing can encourage transit use. During the early 1990’s, transit saw service cuts and increased fares in most urban areas. The report concluded that:
In the 1990s, most Canadian urban transit operators implemented both service and fare changes. Generally, service hours have decreased whereas fares have increased. The general impact has been a decrease in ridership coupled with an increase in revenues. Results vary on a city by city basis.
In 1998 until today, transit ridership has been steadily increasing. In that same time period, we saw major investment in transit infrastructure and service. According to the most recent data from Statistic Canada “ridership levels rose to 123.0 million passenger trips in January, a 7.9% increase from the same month a year earlier.”

If the provincial government still believe in its Provincial Transit Plan increasing fares while not improving service is a bad way to increase ridership. When you look at all the studies and real-world examples, the writing is on the wall: we must look at road pricing and parking pricing in some form throughout the region.

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