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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Public Transportation Statistics

The following statistics are taken from the American Public Transportation Association's passenger demographics report from May 2007. (These statistics may surprise you)

Ethnicity:
White: 40.6 %
Black: 33.1 %
Hispanic: 14.3 %
Asian: 5.5 %
Multiple/Other: 6.6 %

Gender:
Male: 45 %
Female: 55 %

Household Income:
under $15,000: 20.1 %
$15,000 - $49,999: 45.6 %
$50,000 - $99,999: 24.8 %
over $100,000: 9.5 %

Occupation:
employed: 72.1 %
student: 10.7 %
unemployed: 6.4 %
retired: 6.7 %
homemaker: 2.0 %
other: 2.2 %

Vehicle Availability:
Yes: 45.4 %
No: 54.6 %

Vehicle Ownership:
no cars: 30.7 %
one car: 29.1 %
two cars: 27.1 %
three or more cars: 13.2 %

Trip purpose:
Work: 59.2 %
School: 10.6 %
Shopping/Dining: 8.5 %
Personal Business: 6.3 %
Social Reasons: 6.8 %
Medical Trips: 3.0 %
Other: 5.7 %

In other words, contrary to popular belief, the majority of public transportation users are not poor minorities or homeless people, but rather hardworking, middle-class people. In fact there are more people that make between $50,000 and $100,000 a year than there are that are at or below the poverty line. They usually own a car but either cannot use it or choose not to use it. Riders are usually going to work as well. Interestingly enough, this does not sound like HRT's demographic, which leads me to believe we are not doing something right. I have requested HRT's demographics and I will compare them when I get them and follow up. In the meantime, everbody should think about these numbers, especially those who oppose public transportation. Mass Transit is not a poor man's game. It is the smart man's game. When the Tide gets extended all the way to the beach, it will cost $1.50 to go the full 21 (+/-) miles. If you use the estimated cost per mile formula that the IRS uses, this same drive would cost between $8 and $12 (includes fuel and wear & tear). Also, during rush hour, the guy driving would be pulling his hair out, spilling his coffee, and shaving a few years off his life each day, while the guy riding the LRT would be relaxing and reading the paper every morning.
Finally, pay close attention to the "Trip Purpose." If 59% of riders ride transit to and from work, I have a question for city leaders. Why is it that our routes don't concentrate on centers of employment. Norfolk Commerce Park only has one bus line (the 15) going to it. Also that same bus is the only regular service bus that stops at Greenbrier. No service is provided to the Airport or its industrial park. Why is it that our centers of employment have the least service. We have plenty of service to recreational centers such as Military Circle, Lynnhaven Mall, or Pembroke Mall. That is alot to serve the mere 8.5% that use the bus to get to the mall. We need to fix this. People don't ride the bus as much as they should because it doesn't suit their needs. If they are using it to get to work, it needs to go to their employer's area. It also needs to run past 6:30 PM. If I work at a job that requires me to stay late, how could I depend on a transportation medium that stops running before I do? Come on City Councils of Hampton Roads. Billions of dollars a year are spent on research and consultant accross the country. It is time to start utilizing that information.

1 comment:

Sailorcurt said...

When mass transit begins saving time, it will become more popular.

My time is worth approximately $25 per hour to my employer. It is worth significantly more to me.

The minuscule savings realized by taking mass transit doesn't even come close to compensating me for the extra time it takes. A 15 minute trip downtown can take upwards of an hour on the bus.

The LRT will be useless to me and most residents. It simply doesn't go where I need to go.

We have only seen the first of the intevitable cost over-runs. It will end up costing much more than originally estimated and it will be a money loser for the city. Not only that, but it will cause further traffic tie-ups for those who don't find the route useful and still have to travel by auto.

I, for one, am getting tired of our city wasting our money on "prestige projects" and boondoggles. There are streets in this city that don't even have city sewer lines and have to use septic tanks for God's sake. I'd say we need to try to get into the 20th century before we worry about trying to move into the 21st.

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