T ridership keeps going down

CommonWealth reports that only the Blue Line is seeing an increase in riders.


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I take an hour walk home

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I take an hour walk home after work just to avoid the T...or I'll walk halfway then take a Lyft. The MBTA is horrible and it's getting too cold out to be waiting on their bum schedule.


Thanks anon.

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I think this comment sums up the article in a microcosm.

From a personal perspective, I spent my first 2 full years in Boston before taking my first cab ride somewhere. I always walked, unless weather was horrible, I'd hop on the T. But I rarely ever left Boston Proper, which I would assume has higher than normal reliability and schedules.

But the situation surrounding MBTA has always fascinated me. Even though I don't currently live in Boston, I visit a couple times a year, and use the T regularly when in town.

How can a "World Class" city like Boston, with all of its tech and innovation, continue to have such a godawful transit system? It's probably the one stain on an otherwise sparkling gem of a place to live.


Two reasons

1) This country's decades-long practice of encouraging shelter profiteering through the federal tax code, coupled with zoning laws put in place by said profiteers, leave the public with little money to spend to improve service after they pay for their shelter.

Newton has plenty of MBTA service. A shame that the people who live there now use the free time they have because they don't have to go out and get money to attend meetings which keep us from living there.

2) The MBTA pays people not to work through their pension scheme. We make fun of the Mets for giving Bobby Bonilla a million dollars every year to do nothing, but the MBTA does it with retired employees. How desperately did they need the employees 40 years ago to offer them these contracts? Was it because there were fewer people back then?

"There's too many people making too many problems." - Genesis

I attacked government and quoted a prog band. Now THIS is a Will LaTulippe post.


You missed the part where the

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You missed the part where the legislature and unions treated the MBTA like a patronage empire for decades siphoning vast sums money away from key maintenance and staffing to provide pay and perks for non value adding personnel. Not to mention all of the substandard construction which billed for champagne and caviar while delivering tap water and stale civil defense saltines for a finished product.


You missed a big part

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The part where none of that mattered much in the entire scale of things.

And the part where living wage jobs with benefits and pensions MATTER.

Did someone mention a "World Class" city?

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Well, well, well. Typically, I'd post this New York Times video about how much the transit sucks in Gotham, but a bit over a month ago 60 Minutes (ask your parents) did a piece on Andy Byford's attempts to bring New York's MTA Transit into the 20th century. It sounds like the chief has heard from the riders how much the subway sucks in Fun City. For example, Waquiot's due date ended up being the day Superstorm Sandy hit the Tri-State area. He's 6 now. They are preparing to finally get to fixing one of the tunnels that was affected. Since fixing everything involved multiple layers of government, I don't hold out too much hope. My guess is that in a few years time Mr. Byford will be back in England running a TOC.

I recently heard that the Shenzhen Metro was the best one in China. Is Shenzhen a "world class" city? Can you locate Shenzhen on a map?

I can

Shenzhen, in southeastern China, is a metropolis that links Hong Kong to China’s mainland.The Shenzen metro area has about 12.5 million people living there.


Well, of course you know

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And they probably have HK/Guangzhou envy, like the way some people in Boston and Philly have envy of the City Where They Sleep While in a Broken Subway Car.


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Maybe if you just offered a service that was reliable and easy to use, that wouldn't be the case.


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well hard to attract new riders when the trains break down daily.


My eyes and your words differ

On the CR the peak trains are only getting more crowded. On the Lowell and Kingston lines it's standing room only, often extending down the entire length of the car. It's ridiculous.

One gets the impression the T will use "declining ridership" as a justification to cut service needlessly.


Decline is Transit Only

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From the article

T budget officials, in a separate presentation to the Fiscal and Management Control Board, said fare revenue from the subway system was down $2.4 million in the July-September quarter and down $1.8 million on the bus system. Overall, fare revenue was down $3.4 million in the quarter, suggesting losses on the transit side were offset partly by gains in commuter rail revenue. Commuter rail ridership appears to be increasing, but reliable passenger counts are not available yet.

So the metrics that the T is looking at appear to agree with your observations on CR.

Has to be off-hours revenue

Rush hour has not only become more crammed/intense but has spread out to mean full trains from 7am to 10am and 4pm to 7:30pm - on the Red and Orange.

Work from Home Life

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Of my 10 years living in Boston, 6.5 were spent commuting driving out of the city, 2.5 were taking the T downtown, and the last year has been mostly walking down the street (now moving to 100% remote mostly from my house)

Can't say I miss the cars or the trains… maybe a little for the podcasts, though I still tend to take the T when I'm going out (at least one-way, in the evening it may not be running or maybe I ended up somewhere an Uber pool is just a smarter option late)

Maybe if we'd built/tackle more housing we'd have more riders though :P, but I think this outcome for the T is not unexpected as competing systems arise like city bikes, scooters, ideally as much walking as possible, and Ubers (rightfully so that alternatives that serve people better come about).

Ultimately all the more reason we should look to privatize the T like in Tokyo, where the trains there are impeccably on time and the transit companies are allowed to own/profit/invest in the non-rider infrastructure (like collecting rent from the stations they own) so that it doesn't all have to come from fares (thus they stay low), and dealing with labor costs is not an insurmountable political football.

Some of Tokyo subway is privatized. Not all.

There are two primary subway operators in Tokyo:

Tokyo Metro – Formerly the Teito Rapid Transit Authority (TRTA), it was privatized in 2004. It currently operates 179 stations on nine lines and 195.1 kilometers (121.2 mi) of route.[1]
Toei Subway – run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation, an agency of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. It operates 99 stations on four lines and 109.0 kilometers (67.7 mi) of route.[2]

As of 2015, the combined subway network of the Tokyo and Toei metros comprises 278 stations and 13 lines covering a total system length of 304.1 kilometers (189.0 mi). The Tokyo Metro and Toei networks together carry a combined average of over eight million passengers daily.[3] Despite being ranked first in worldwide subway usage, subways make up a small fraction of heavy rail rapid transit in Tokyo alone—only 274 out of 882 railway stations, as of 2007.[4] The Tokyo subway at 8.7 million daily passengers only represents 22% of Tokyo's 40 million daily rail passengers (see Transport in Greater Tokyo).[5] Other urban commuter rail systems include Keihin Electric Express Railway, Keio Corporation, Keisei Electric Railway, Odakyu Electric Railway, Seibu Railway, Tobu Railway and Tokyu Corporation.

I fail to see why induced

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I fail to see why induced demand is an argument against building roads. Presumably induced demand applies to *all* forms of transit -- if you make it easier for more people to commute by method X, then more people will use it. Traffic jams and crowded transit are both signs of success.

You would never accept the following argument:

If you added more commuter rail service, the trains would still be crowded because it would be more convenient and more people would take it. Therefore you shouldn't add commuter rail service, but build roads instead!

So don't be surprised that drivers find your formulation unpersuasive.

Ceteris paribus, if you start cutting off highways (or transit lines!), Boston will have worse commutes, be less attractive, and people will move away, reducing the tax revenues the T depends on. We should probably build more of both, and some more housing too.

The problem is that

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The problem is that overcrowded roads are exceedingly unpleasant, both for the people using them (because traffic is slow) and people nearby (noise, pollution, risk of getting hit, inconvenient to walk because you can't cross the street, etc). And moving a certain number of people by car takes way more land than any other mode.

Expanding roads is often done with a goal of making them less crowded, but it doesn't work.

Trains can move far more people per foot of ROW-width per hour than a road ever could, before the train gets close to crush-loaded. And the external nuisances are minimal. Would you rather live next to the Green Line, or next to the Mass Pike?

The Green Line, clearly

But let's just say I have a much better chance of finding land and shelter within my resources in Springfield than in Brookline.

Again, sky's the limit. There could be more housing on the Green Line, but the people already near it don't want you or me there, because we might close a car door at 9 PM or reduce the value of that asset that they own that they aren't going to sell because they're not going to sleep in a refrigerator box.

Drivers don't want to be persuaded, they pretend its working

Transit scales with demand cheaply and effectively in a positive feedback loop. Because (and this is a point I’m going to recite over and over) the capacity is not in the infrastructure. Whereas highway capacity cannot scale with demand because the capacity IS in the infrastructure, baked into the initial capital costs. In transit, capacity is part of operations costs.

we need to stop subsidizing cars. https://slate.com/business/2008/07/you-think-the-government-is-wasting-a...

Credibility, how do you

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Credibility, how do you expand when you cant maintain / update what you already have. I am talking to you, Southcoast Rail , and Green Line Expansion with all the trimmings.

Ridership is down is because

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Ridership is down is because they don't have the best or cheapest product. I didn't even have my license til my late 20s because the T covered what I needed.

But trying to take it into work int he morning is unreliable to get to work on time and quite frankly is claustrophobic. Alternately you have Lyft and Uber pools which are still affordable and have a comfortable ride to and from.

Maybe Ridership would go up if it was reliable and scaled to demand. Maybe have more cars rather than having people busting at the seams and getting there in an efficient manner!


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My bus ride to work should only be about 15 minutes according to the published schedules.

But thanks to busses being pulled off the route to run shuttles for broken down train lines, or even the bus itself breaking down, I end up waiting at the stop for 20-30 minutes beyond when I am supposed to have to wait...according to the various tracking apps, I have seen bus trips literally disappear into the twilight zone, while I am left to wait for the next one...or the one after, or the one after THAT.

I am now averaging a hour's commute to work if I rely only on the bus.

Bus fare is $1.70 with a Charlie Card. An Uber or Lyft pool/shared ride is often about $3 for me...and it gets me to work within 20 minutes..TOPS.

It's no contest anymore.

you are participating in a stock scam.

Uber and Lyft keep fares low by subsidizing fares. They claim to be doing this to expand into new markets, however it has been going on for 8 years. The stock holders have started to look closer at the valuation, but no one is talking about the impact on our city. These artificial prices are putting more and more cars on the street. One afternoon I was looking for a parking space in the south end near the hospital. All of the meters and visitor spaces had cars hot parked. I wondered why all these people were sitting in their cars and then I realized they were rideshare drivers getting ready for the after work rush.

Obviously, that's not your problem, but it is just another car subsidy that seems great but is actually ruining our lives.

Oh, I'm well aware...

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Yeah, I knew it was a stock scam...and I know that at some point, when traditional taxis are driven out of business the ride-share prices are going to skyrocket. At which point I will go back to relying on busses, subway trains and walking...unless it's pouring rain, 40 degrees below zero (not impossible in New England) or 6-8 feet of snow on the ground.

If MBTA service was just reliable and predictable, I wouldn't have come to rely on ride-shares to get me to work. Even if there is literally 45 minutes or an hour between scheduled bus runs, I would be fine with that *as long as that schedule can be counted on*. It's when the bus is scheduled to run every 10 minutes, and sometimes they come by at intervals of 6 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 3 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 2 minutes, an hour and 5 minutes, and all of them are so packed to the gills that I cannot even get ON...

I understand that the extra cars on the road contribute to the busses and green line trains getting stuck or delayed in traffic, and I also realize that a lot of people using ride-share services are just too lazy or stuck up to take the bus or train.

But if the T could do some minor improvements about basic maintenance and repairs, and tweak the scheduling to match actual need, that would really go a long way towards shifting people like me back on to public transportation.

I'm certainly not going to hold my breath waiting though.

The problem with a company

The problem with a company that is overvalued, is that they The company is not concerned about anything that’s happening with the business at the Sales level. They don’t care about how many cars are on the street or how it’s changing or causing problems in our city. There’s a good chance that the prices will go up until the company goes bust or sells this region. That’s what happened in China. And that why we had the medallion system in the first place.

Two things

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1 Ride sharing replaces public transit trips. More uber equals lower t ridership and higher road traffic

2 reliability and crowding on the OL RL and GL discourages riders particularly in light of the alternative of rise sharing.

How many T parking garages shut down?

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Alewife on the Red Line is undergoing millions in parking garage repairs. Quincy Center and Wollaston are basically closed to any parking. If folks can't park, might as well just drive into Boston and pay a garage. No surprise ridership is down.


The price of T in China?

Um, parking garages LOL. Not everyone lives in suburbia/exurbia and drives to a garage. In fact, only a limited number do.

Planet 1955 wants their grumpy old man back.



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One does not have to live in suburbia to use the T garage or parking lots. Check that the forest hills lot is now full just by 6 AM. Now that they shrank it with the endless station construction and selling the other lot, hey more market rate apartments. Parking lots and garages at line end points encourage ridership and should not be mocked.
Btw as someone who had parked at forest hills I have no problem taking the bus in the AM but the PM bus schedule is awful. Aside from no cover at the station and endless construction there is no schedule, could be 5 minutes or 45 and no T employee knows or cares.
Just because I drive a car does not make me the bad guy.

They need to institute a PM

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They need to institute a PM bus lane, too, PM has been worse than the AM even before they fixed anything and the difference is worse now.

OR just expand the OL along the needham route - lots of land out past the VFW to build park&rides, could help them utilize the currently underused commuter rail lots along the ROW.


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Only a small fraction of MBTA use involves parking at stations.

Drop in the bucket for ridership.

Count the spaces

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Count the boardings.

Notice that people who drive to the stations are a small percentage of boardings.


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maybe because service sucks? The chronic delays, slow moving trains, overcrowding, why is it surprising?

NATIONWIDE not just the MBTA

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Sorry to interrupt your whinging about the T, but decline is in nearly every US city.

Unless bicycling has caught on, its Uber/Lyft taking riders who can afford it. Dig deeper into the data and you'll find that poorer neighborhoods have seen less decline in ridership.


Will Mass learn from this? With Baker, doubtful!

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Studies have shown that while Uber/Lyft told us would help increase public transit use and decrease congestion, it had the opposite effect. Now siliCon valley is selling the same ideas with autonmous cars, that somehow cars driving themselves will obliterate congestion! Similarly doubtful that a bunch of cars driving themselves powered by electricity from coal, natural gas, oil, and a small amount of renewables will solve all our problems. Baker seems to be buying into this and is destroying public transit in MA in anticipation.


Baker is not destroying

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Baker is not destroying public transit.

Public transit is destroying itself.

And even if ridesharing increases traffic on the roads, for us that are use to the T, the road traffic is acceptable.

What people like you want to do is force us to take the T and be miserable so that single-occupant cars can keep on driving on.

Gee, why is that?

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Public transit is destroying itself.

One word.


You aren't old enough to remember how he masterfully designed the funding system for failure using magic rules straight from his Koch Bros funded foundation.

Look it up.

Seems fairly obvious

the system is unreliable, and people are finding other ways to get where they're going.

The Blue Line increase is pretty obvious: East Boston is the new Southie (I quite literally overhead someone talking about how they just moved to Eastie from Southie because it's cooler this AM); and, there's a big 'ol liquid barrier between us and the rest of the city with limited alternative options.

I also can't help but call out this line:

T fare technology is fairly primitive right now and it’s often difficult to accurately gauge how many people are riding the system at any given time.

Translation: The data is roughly as reliable as the service.

I've been taking the T daily

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I've been taking the T daily for almost 40 years (like many others here) and I've had to take everything but the blue line to school or work in this time...and each line has only gotten worse. Same w/ the CR. My CR is late every morning...every.morning. In the last few months my CR going home is also showing up late...not every day but more and more.

We need better train/bike infrastructure to not only move people more efficiently and reliably but also to reduce the # of cars on the road. Until that happens I'll still be late every day & people that drive will be in parking lots. It's time for this city and the country to get smart but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

To me the biggest reasons

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why passenger counts are going down overall is because:

A. Lyft/Uber have seemed to split the gap between T fare and taxi fare. While it may be more useful at off-peak hours and on weekends, congestion in the city is worse than it's ever been with all the additional vehicles on the road. This will only get worse.

B. T Bustitution on the weekends and at night for both subway lines and commuter rail has skewed the numbers because first, no fares (and no passenger counts) are collected on the shuttles and secondly, people may opt for alternate transportation because of the poor experience on the shuttles (I took one from Lowell and while the weekend ride was nice and nonstop it dumped me at Wellington Station).

Personally, I would like to see the numbers for the SL1/SL2/SL3. There is no way that traffic hasn't increased on that line. The SL3 didn't even exist before last April, and Courthouse Station is now busier than some Green Line stations. Capacity needs to double very quickly on the Silver Line before the next wave of Seaport building openings hits.