Click for next page ( 4

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement

Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 3
3 cHAPrER ONE INTRODUCTION PURPOSE AND CONTENTS This synthesis provides an overview of suburban transit services and programs, and identifies and documents am preaches that transit agencies are taking to meet suburb-to- suburb travel needs. For the purposes of this synthesis, transit routes, paratransit services, vanpools, and carpools with sub- urba~ origins and destinations, serving largely suburban travel needs, were considered to be suburb-to-suburb services. These services could also be characterized as serving low density ar- eas, and being non-radial and non-center city oriented. This chapter provides background on the challenges pre- sented to transit agencies by changing demographics, land uses, and increased auto dependency in attempting to serve the suburb-to-suburb travel market. Chapter 2 discusses the re- sults of a survey of 23 transit agencies that provide suburb-to- suburb services, followed by Chapter 3, which presents se" lected case studies of four suburban transit agencies. Common elements of success among the case study examples and the other survey respondents are identified in Chapter 4. Finally, conclusions are presented in Chapter 5. BACKGROUND From a high of 26 billion passengers in 1946, U.S. transit patronage fell steadily for 30 years, declining to 8.8 billion in 1980 (l). There were temporary upsurges only during the years of tight gasoline supplies in the 1970s. Through the 1980s, the total number of transit riders remained the same, but those numbers represented a smaller and smaller share of total commute trips from 6.4 percent in 1980 to 5.3 percent in 1990 (l). Many factors have converged to affect transit's mode share over the past three decades. A 1987 report by Pisarski, Commuting in America, out- lined three major themes affecting commuting patterns in the United States: the worker boom, the private vehicle boom, and the suburban commuting boom (2~. All of these trends have had detrimental impacts on traditional fixed route public transit. The latter two trends are briefly discussed later. A 1992 report by Pisarski, New Perspectives in Com~n'`tir~g, is based on early data from the 1990 Decennial Census and the 1990 Nationwide Personal Transportation Study (3), and pro- vides a look at what has happened between 1980 and 1990. Some of the figures cited below have been updated based on this more recent data. The Auto Commuting Boom Between 1960 and 1990, vehicle availability increased from an average of 1.03 vehicles per household to 1.66 (2,3~. A majority of U.S. households now have two or more vehicles. The share of households without vehicles dropped from 22 percent in 1960 to about 11.5 percent of all households in 1990 (2, 3~. The most significant trend regarding vehicle avail- ability during this period was in vehicles available per worker; this number rose from 0.85 per worker in 1960 to 1.32 in 1990 (2,3~. The dramatic changes in workers' access to private vehi- cles has coincided with equally dramatic increases in the use of private vehicles for work commuting, which almost doubled from 43 nonillion users in 1960 to 83 million in 1980 (2~. Only about one-half of the growth of private vehicle commuting can be attributed to the growth in the number of commuters; the remaining half was the product of shifts from other modes of travel, including public transit (2~. By 1990, workers commut- ing in private vehicles accounted for 87 percent of all work trips (3) The Suburban Commuting Boom Since 1950, 86 percent of the nation's population growth has moved to the suburbs (2~. As a result, suburbs, with only 23 percent of the total population in 1950. nearly doubled their share of the population to 44 percent by 1984, while central city shares of U.S. population remained relatively constant. The suburbanization of jobs followed the suburbanization of population. Two-thirds of all n~etropolita~ job growth between 1960 and 1980 occurred in the suburbs. In 1960, American suburbs contained about 14 nonillion jobs. representing close to 35 percent of all metropolitan jobs. By 1980, the number of jobs in the suburbs had more than doubled to about 33 mil- lion, or 47 percent of all metropolitan jobs. The predominant commuter flow pattern is now the suburb-to-suburb trip with approximately 25 million convoluter trips per day, which rep- resents about one-~ird of all metropolitan commuting. The traditional commute between suburb and center city, although still growing, is no longer the dominant pattern. falling to third place behind central city-to-central city trips (2~. Travel to work between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas is also growing. Approximately 2 nonillion commuters enter metropolitan areas each day from noIl-met;ropolita;n ar- eas, while close to 1 million leave metropolitan areas for work in non-metropolitan areas (2~. All of these trips traverse the suburbs, thus adding to suburban traffic congestion. Other Factors In a paper by Cervero, "Surviving in the Suburbs: Transit's Untapped Frontier," the author notes that transit's 'Talling fortunes" are an outcome of many factors: Traditional fixed route services radially linked to central. business districts (CBD) are ill-suited for lateral, suburb-to- suburb journeys, the most rapidly growing travel market.

OCR for page 3
4 Also, most built environments in the suburbs are not con- ducive to transit nding. Low employment densities and the prevalence of abundant, free parking at nest suburban workplaces induce many to solo-commute. Demographics and institutions also work against transit in suburbia. Sub- urban residents and workers tend to be more affluent and own more cars than their central city counterparts (1). A 1992 report by the University of Tennessee's Transporta- tion Center, Suburban Mobility: A Challenge for Public Transportation, notes that: Suburban areas hare grown with reliance on the personal automobile; in fact, development patterns have disbanded dependence on the private automobile. In addition, campus- like suburban activity center (SAC) developments have provided large separations between individual buildings, requiring long walks between buildings as well as from the street to building entrances, located behind extensive park- ing lots (4). THE FUTURE Cervero noted that despite these deterrents, several trends could work in transit's favor over tirade. Suburban centers are evolving into relatively dense, Nixed-use concentrations, which could become the building blocks for integrated re- gional transit networks. Suburbs are also becoming home to increased numbers of senior citizens, ethnic minorities, and new immigrants to the United States groups that have tradi- tionally been transit dependent. High-priced, tight housing markets have also created a demand for condominiums and apartments, such as near rail stations and in sortie suburban areas. Lastly, some metropolitan areas are actively promoting more dense, tra~sit-oriented development to meet the require- ments of the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) of 1990. Pisarski noted that, "As the suburban market becomes snore dense, opportunities may increase for innovative transit serv- ices to meet specialized steeds" (2~. Clearly, demographic and land use changes and increased private vehicle use represent challenges to public transit pros viders. For example, it is not easy from a political standpoint and with limited resources to initiate new services to the suburbs potentially at the expense of central city residents who have had service for many years. In his paper "Safeguarding Suburban Mobility," Cervero wrote: For transit to realistically compete in sprawling suburban environs, major service reforms are called for. In light of the trend towards cross-haul commuting, radial downtown- oriented routes should, where possible. be converted into grid networks that use office parks, shopping malls, and other activity nodes as u~ned-transfer points. Perhaps even more important. fle,mble fonus of mass transportation need to be fully exploited...(5). Transit agencies throughout North America are responding to these challenges, and many are aggressively pursuing the suburban market. This synthesis illustrates successful and in- novative approaches being used in suburban environments including The use of smaller vehicles, Demand-responsive services, Flexible routing, Targeted marketing approaches to the business community, Partnerships with the private sector, Involvement in land use and planning issues, and Other programs and techniques designed to increase transit's market share in the suburbs. Despite fiscal and political constraints, many transit man- agers are attempting to meet the challenges of the future by creatively designing services that cater to the needs of the sub- urban market. LITERATURE REVIEW The information sources for this synthesis included a re- view of the literature on suburban transit service and suburb- to-suburb commuting based on a Transportation Research Board (TRB) Transportation Research Information Service (TRIS) literature search, the author's own subject files, and a survey of transit agencies (discussed in Chapter 2) that pro- vide suburb-to-suburb service. A bibliography is included following the references at the end of this report.