The transit landscape is changing constantly and there is uncertainty about the future. One thing is clear, technology will play an increasingly important role moving forward.
Beyond the traditional transit modes of bus and rail systems, the landscape in recent years has changed rapidly. Many public transit agencies have invested in alternative connecting modes such as bikes, scooters, or a mixture of both. The ride sharing industry is growing significantly too.
Previously, these ride sharing industries were the main competitors of many transit agencies, however, more public transportation agencies are partnering with Transportation Network Companies (TNC)s like Uber, Lyft or Uzurv to reduce wait times and operational costs in under serviced areas. Rather than relying on public transportation that isn't on-demand in many instances, people can use ride sharing apps to book their trips with the click of a button. According to some studies, the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for the ride sharing industry is growing by nearly 20 percent a year.
Traditional methods of public transportation are being replaced by newer methods that require less emphasis on infrastructure. Automakers have been producing small batches of autonomous vehicles. While none are available for residential use as of yet, many are being used in pilot programs for data collection in the transportation arena. While the bus rider population grew by .95 percent, it is not a significant growth – and much of this is a result of many cities using traditional large sized fleet vehicles which require more durable roads and cannot make the turns for small residential areas. This phenomenon led to under served areas in cities where urban planning created sprawl and did not incorporate public transportation into the original designs.
The subject of counting ridership is complex. Transit ridership hit a period of decline from 2015-2019. In terms of ridership, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released a third-quarter report from 2019 to show a significant amount of data. The number of people taking heavy rail grew by 5.46 percent over the prior year. Commuter rail transportation grew by 4.38 percent while trolleybus transportation grew by 1.25 percent.