Friday, November 5, 2010

Another public transportation "success"

Three years after the Greenbush train made its inaugural run, ridership on the $534 million commuter rail extension is far below the MBTA’s projections, and those who do take it are more likely to be former passengers of the T’s own commuter boats than motorists lured away from the South Shore’s congested highways.

Last week, according to the T, an average of 2,133 weekday customers rode the line toward Boston, about half the 4,200 riders the transit agency had expected within three to five years of opening Greenbush. Even more sobering for the T is the fact that ridership in each month from October 2009 to June 2010 — the most recent month for which complete statistics are available — had dropped below the levels in the same month a year earlier.
Big government big spenders are always pushing for billions more tax dollars for various public transportation schemes. They keep getting built.

But, outside of intensely congested urban areas with traditions of public transportation ridership - - New York, Chicago, Philadelphia - - these projects never meet their revenue projections and always lose money.

For some reason, urban and transportation planners will not accept the fact that, given the choice, most Americans prefer the comfort, privacy and convenience of our own cars.

1 comment:

Tony said...

I would say that Boston does have a tradition of public transportation as well, the T commuter rail system is quite extensive for a city its size. Many of the other lines have a high ridership. My local line is double-tracking parts of the line to add more trains.

But the inherent problem is do the trains take the commuters where they need to go? If the south shore commuters work along the 128 belt rather than downtown, the train is no help.

The T projections probably expected downtown commuters to start relocating along the new commuter lines. No doubt the recession and housing collapse slowed that migration.

as for preference-- sit on a train with wifi service or sit in your car in congested traffic, I'd prefer the former. Problem is it doesn't go where I want to go, and even when gas was $4/gallon it was still cheaper to drive!