Facing ridership slumps, agencies weigh the costs of free transit

Transit agencies across the country are weighing the potential impacts of lowering transit fares or making transit free to passengers, but riders and transit advocates are concerned the fare cuts could translate into worse service. Research suggests there may be better ways to improve service and increase ridership, including leaning on partners to help cover costs. Many agencies suspended fares during the pandemic, partly as relief for frontline workers, but also because fare collection became challenging. Now local governments across greater DC are considering lower fares or transit subsidies for low-income riders.

Post-COVID travel patterns—a survey by the MassINC Polling Group

In a recent public opinion survey conducted by the MassINC Polling Group, Massachusetts residents expected to travel less in the future due to COVID-19’s impact. However, many residents expect to increase their trips by car and decrease trips by transit. A majority of residents polled are open to the idea of drastic changes to the transportation system.

“Spillover” effects reinforce VMT effects from transit and parking subsidies

We know that employer-provided free parking tends to increase auto-commute trips and that employer-provided transit passes tend to reduce auto-commute trips. Research is less clear about the effect on vehicle-miles traveled, however, in part because we don’t know whether or how such employment practices might affect non-work travel. A new paper using travel survey data from the Seattle area, sheds new light on the VMT question.

In the midst of nationwide transit service cuts, more than one million rural households do not have a car

Many transit agencies have been forced to drastically scale back services due to rapidly declining revenues, and rural providers are no exception. Many were already operating on incredibly tight budgets, serving large geographic areas with a small staff of part-time drivers. While it is easy to see how pandemic-related service cuts will impact people in urban areas who rely on transit, the impacts will likely be just as devastating for many rural communities, especially the pockets of rural America with disproportionately low car ownership.

In the midst of nationwide transit service cuts, more than one million rural households do not have a car

Many transit agencies have been forced to drastically scale back services due to rapidly declining revenues, and rural providers are no exception. Many were already operating on incredibly tight budgets, serving large geographic areas with a small staff of part-time drivers. While it is easy to see how pandemic-related service cuts will impact people in urban areas who rely on transit, the impacts will likely be just as devastating for many rural communities, especially the pockets of rural America with disproportionately low car ownership.

Voters across the political spectrum want better transportation options and improved transit

Polling data collected in November and released in March show voters want better transportation options across geographic and party lines. The results indicate that a majority of voters wish they had alternatives to driving, support improving public transit, and want government to fix existing roads before building new ones. While COVID-19 has upended daily life, the results help paint a picture of the transportation system Americans want to see.