Transportation Nation

Patent Troll Suing Transit Agencies Is Foiled

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Public transit agencies are safe from lawsuits that would threaten their abilities to tell passengers when trains and buses will arrive. Yes, that's right, there was a legal threat to providing basic information to riders. 

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Transportation Nation

Real Estate Tip: Buy Near Transit

Monday, March 25, 2013

Transit-oriented development project in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo CC by Flickr user Steven Vance)

Homes close to good transit options made for better real estate investments during the recession, according to a new study from the American Public Transportation Association.

APTA looked at housing market data from Phoenix, Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Chicago from 2006 to 2011, and compared homes close to transit with homes for the metro region overall. The study found residential property values located near transit performed 41 percent better. Heavy rail, bus rapid transit, and light rail, with more frequent service and transfer options, helped real estate prices even more than commuter rail more typically found in suburbs, according to the study.

Areas with no transit options fared the worst in terms of home value.

Residents close to transit sheds -- areas that are a half-mile away from a transit stop or closer -- also had better access to jobs and incurred less transportation costs. In Chicago, residents close to the city's transit system spent $300 less on transportation per month than the regional average.

Percent change in average residential sales prices relative to the region, 2006-11

Transit is not the sole factor of course, but allowing residents wider access to local amenities has made it a real estate catalyst. Alex Boylan, a Minneapolis-based realtor, says he's noticed that properties close to the light rail or major bus routes don't stay on the market as long. "Now more people are more about community, wanting to live closer to work, and using the transportation that's provided around them," he said. In Minneapolis-St. Paul, the study showed that home prices fell everywhere from 2006 to 2011, but homes next to the Hiawatha light rail line better maintained their values by 62 percent when compared to the entire Twin Cities.

Areas with accessible transit tend to have more nearby amenities, and therefore better walkability scores, something Boylan says homebuyers have been paying much closer attention to in the last few years.

Related: What Makes A City Walkable

The years covered in the APTA study were bad years for the housing market, but now that the market's improving, Darnell Grisby, APTA director of policy and research, says the desire for a city lifestyle will only continue to grow. “The millennial generation that seeks more transit-oriented lifestyles and empty nesters that will be seeking to downsize their homes while living near amenities will ensure that this trend continues,” he says.

Related: Will SunRail change Central Florida's driving habits?

The study showed that The Loop in Chicago performed more than 75 percent better than the region as a whole, where retirees and young professionals are fueling one of the most dramatic downtown housing booms in the country -- though the 2010 Census showed that middle class families were still flocking to the city's suburbs.

The study corresponds with other cultural shifts. Other data shows millennials are less car-centric than their parents. A recent Zipcar survey said Americans in the 18-34 age group consider their computers and mobile phones more important in their daily lives than cars, and fewer young people are trying to get driver’s licenses.

"People are voting with their feet," says Sara Wiskerchen, a spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors, a group that partnered with APTA for the study. The real estate industry group has become a booster for transit-oriented development. Wiskerchen says NAR plans to take the study to Congress to push for more public transportation and smart growth initiatives in American cities. "Consumers are looking for, and choosing, neighborhoods that they're able to find more walkable features, that have lower transportation costs, and really just looking at communities in a smart way," says Wiskerchen.

Related: DC a pioneer in walkable, transit-friendly neighborhoods


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Transportation Nation

NYC Subway Ridership At 62 Year High, Despite Sandy Disruptions

Monday, March 11, 2013

Crowded L train platform at 1:30 on a Saturday night (Sunday morning)

New York City's subway ridership rose 0.8% in 2012, despite storm Sandy-related shut downs and service disruptions.  According to figures released by the NY MTA Monday, some 1.654 billion riders rode the subways in 2012, 13.7 million more trips than in 2011.

Weekend ridership grew by 3 percent, matching the all-time historic high for weekend ridership set in 1946.

Word comes as the American Public Transit Association reports a record 10.5 billion trips on public transit.

The system was shut for two days around storm Sandy. Eight tunnels flooded, and many lines from Brooklyn to Manhattan were shut for a week.  The system is still not completely restored.

More soon.

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Transportation Nation

BREAKING: Public Transportation Ridership Surged in First Quarter, Report Says

Monday, June 04, 2012

Five percent more Americans rode transit between January and March of this year, compared to the same period last year.  That's according to a report by the American Public Transportation Association, the transit lobby.  APTA says this is fifth consecutive quarter that transit ridership rose.

At least a dozen jurisdictions saw their highest ridership ever,  the report said, including New York, Boston,  Oakland,  San Diego, Charlotte, Tampa, Indianapolis, and Ann Arbor, MI; Fort Myers, FL;  Ithaca, NY and Olympia, WA.

In a statement, APTA President and CEO Micheal Melaniphy attributed the rise to high gas prices, along with "the use of real time technology" which "makes it easy for riders to know when the next bus or train will arrive. "

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Transportation Nation

Former PA Gov Rendell: Best Transpo Bill Would "Do No Harm"

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Transit backers have given up on a comprehensive highway bill this go-around, hoping instead that whatever passes Congress this year lays the table for 2013. And, they say, whatever comes in 2013 must put public transportation on equal footing with roads.

That was the message today on a conference call given by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), which released a report predicting that volatility in gas prices would spur an additional 290 million passenger trips on public transportation this year.

APTA says transit systems nationwide are groaning under the weight of additional passengers and less funding. "More than 80% of our members have had to either raise fares, cut service, or do both as a way to manage their economic challenges," Michael Melaniphy, APTA's president, said. "At the same time, we had our second-highest ridership since 1957 last year."

Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania and a co-chair of the infrastructure group Building America's Future (which co-sponsored the report), was asked about the likelihood of transportation funding reform in the current political climate.

"I don't think we're going to get a five or a six-year bill. I think we'll get something that will carry us into 2013, and I think the best that we can hope for at this point is to do no harm," Rendell said. "But in 2013, it seems to me that Congress and the administration have to come to grips with the problems facing not only our transportation infrastructure, but our entire infrastructure."

Which, he said, "is in desperate shape," adding that he's hoping for "a ten year, long-term infrastructure revitalization program."

Rendell said he had been “horrified by the original proposal floated by the House” that would have stopped gas-tax revenues from being used to fund transit systems. Republicans had said instead that transit funding should come out of a general fund. But that provision was not included in the extension passed in March, which kept things more or less status quo.

Curtis Stitt, the president of the Central Ohio Transit Authority, offered a cautionary tale about general revenue funding -- which, he said, is how public transit is funded in Ohio. "Ten years ago," he said, "the entire state got -- for about 42 transit agencies in the state -- we got about $43 million." In the aftermath of the financial crisis, he said, "this year we're getting $7 million."

APTA officials urged Congress to look at the transportation system holistically -- because that's how Americans see it. Gary Thomas, who runs Dallas' transit system and is also APTA's chairman, said "they view our transportation network as one system. Which is why both public transportation and the road network should continue to receive funding from the highway trust fund."


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Transportation Nation

APTA: As Gas Prices Mount, Transit Savings Approach Historic Highs

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The American Public Transportation Association issues  monthly reports on how much people can save by taking transit -- using something in the $9500-a-year range. This month, the number is $10,126, with New Yorkers saving almost $15,000 a year, Bostonians $13,675, and San Franciscans $13, 339.

The savings are based on the cost of commuting by transit vs. owning, insuring, parking, maintaining, and keeping gas in a car.   It's based on the idea that households with transit can do with fewer cars.

Here's their savings chart:



City Monthly Annual
1 New York $1,230 $14,755
2 Boston $1,140 $13,675
3 San Francisco $1,112 $13,339
4 Seattle $1,013 $12,160
5 Chicago $1,004 $12,043
6 Philadelphia $990 $11,877
7 Honolulu $967 $11,610
8 Los Angeles $916 $10,989
9 San Diego $888 $10,653
10 Minneapolis $886 $10,627
11 Denver $879 $10,545
12 Washington, DC $878 $10,539
13 Portland $877 $10,526
14 Baltimore $858 $10,301
15 Cleveland $834 $10,011
16 Miami $815 $9,782
17 Dallas $801 $9,616
18 Atlanta $799 $9,586
19 Pittsburgh $794 $9,526
20 Las Vegas $787 $9,449
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Transportation Nation

U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Transit Cuts Could Pass House

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A map of Dallas Light Rail's proposed expansion. DART President Gary Thomas says similar expansions would be jeopardized under the House funding proposal.

Transit advocates are taking the House's threat to remove transit spending from the highway trust fund seriously.

"The idea that this bill is going nowhere couldn't be further from the truth," said Janet Kavinoky of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a conference call organized by the American Public Transportation Association. "The reports of the demise of this bill are greatly exaggerated."

"Both Democrats and Republicans agree that it's time to get a transportation bill done," Kavinoky added. "There are provisions in both the House and Senate bill that the other sides won't be inclined to agree on, but there's more in common than not in the bill."

That's what's got the transit advocates alarmed -- for the first time in thirty years, the House wants to remove transit from the highway trust fund, which gets a dedicated stream of funding from the gas tax.

"I spend a tremendous amount of time talking to Chambers of Commerce. Across the board, one of the greatest demands for transportation investment is in public transportation. The better and more efficient your workforce is, the more productive it is. For developers -- they recognize that public transportation is an integral part of creating successful developments. They're concerned about a lack of public commitment to public transit."

The advocates fear that if transit is made part of the yearly appropriations process, funding for long-term projects will dry up.  The problem of moving the trust fund solely to the highway side is that it creates revenue uncertainty that will increase borrowing costs, " said Dr. William Ankner of APTA.

"Transit is critical to the highway program. You can't build enough capacity. We don't have the resources to build our way out of the congestion," added Ankner, who noted there have been no attempts to remove transit from the trust fund in thirty years.

The House is expected to take up its transportation bill next week; the Senate will take up its version tomorrow.

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Transportation Nation

Report: Transit Ridership Up For Third Quarter in a Row

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Cleveland Red Line

The American Public Transit Association released figures today showing transit ridership has risen for the third quarter in a row.  That's the first time that's happened since 2008, when gas prices shot up over $5 a gallon in some areas.

According to APTA, nearly 2.6 billion trips were taken on public transportation between July and September, a 2.0 percent increase over the same quarter last year.  APTA attributes the rise to high gas prices, improved real time passenger information, and "a recovering economy."

*Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco showed the highest increase in use of heavy rail (subways and elevated trains).

*Dallas, Seattle, and Salt Lake saw double digit hikes in light rail use.

The complete report is here.

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Transportation Nation

Study: Transit Ridership Up in 2011

Monday, October 03, 2011

Austin, TX, got a new commuter rail in 2010.

Transit ridership increased by 85.7 million trips, or 1.7 percent nationwide, in the first six months of 2011, according to a report released today by the American Public Transit Association, the pro-transit lobbying group.

The report said ridership increased across the board on commuter rail, light rail and bus systems, with the biggest jumps on commuter rail in Austin, TX, which added a new service, (221.4 percent) and Nashville, TN (38.5 percent)

Light rail saw ridership hikes in Seattle (42.2 percent) and Dallas, TX (32.3 percent).

Miami and Orlando had the biggest upticks in bus ridership, showing a rise of about ten percent in both cities.

You can see the full report here.  Analysis coming soon.

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Transportation Nation

Report: $5 a Gallon Gas Would Mean 1.5 Billion More Transit Trips

Monday, March 14, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  At $4 a gallon, transit systems would see almost 700 more passenger trips.  At $5 a gallon -- nearly 1.5 billion.  That's the conclusion of a report out this morning by the American Public Transit Association.

Using data from 2008 and other times in recent history,when gas prices have spiked, APTA  is projecting that transit systems will see more riders if gasoline prices continue to rise.

But since 2008, many municipalities have severely curtailed transit services, or even eliminated them entirely.  APTA says its model takes this into account.

The report says "many of the public transit systems across the country are already seeing increases in the month of February, some reaching double digits.  For instance; the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority in Pompano Beach, FL increased by 10.6  percent; Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority of Philadelphia, PA increased by 10 percent; The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority of Oakland, CA increased by 14 percent and the Utah Transit Authority in Salt Lake City Utah increased by 12 percent."

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Transportation Nation

Public Transit, Personal Economy

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

(T. Rivkin/Flickr)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Each month, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) releases a monthly transit savings report, in which it calculates the cost savings that residents in 20 different cities (with the highest transit ridership) would realize if they dumped their cars and relied upon public transit.

In theory, you know that untethering yourself from insurance payments and gas prices will save you money. And yet perhaps you will be unprepared to read this month that you might save $13,962 annually if you dumped your car, which is what APTA estimates car-owning New Yorkers would save.

APTA is a public transit advocacy organization -- one of my colleagues refers to it as "the Chamber of Commerce for transit agencies"--so bear that in mind. However, $13,962 is a large enough number to make most people want to read the fine print.  The average cost savings  for these 20 cities was $9,515.

Here's how APTA explains their methodology. (I roughly interpret their equation as "the price of your monthly transit pass - cost of car ownership [gas, insurance, parking]=savings.)

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