Greater Greater Washington

Transit


Outer suburbs turn to transit

Ridership on Maryland commuter buses grew at a rate of 5% each year between 2006 and 2012. It's a sign that the commuters are eager for alternatives to driving, even at the farthest edges of the region.


Daily vehicle trips on top 6 highways with commuter buses (left) and daily
commuter bus riders (right). Click to view raw data (XLSX).

MTA runs 24 commuter bus routes to DC, Baltimore, and other job centers like Silver Spring. They start from as far out as Hagerstown, Kent Island, and St. Mary's County. Buses stop at park-and-rides and streetcorners in outer suburban areas before running non-stop through the inner suburbs along highways like Route 50 and I-270.

Meanwhile, traffic levels on those highways have barely budged. Traffic counts by the State Highway Administration show that the number of vehicles on the road has declined on five of the eight highway corridors where commuter buses run. Growth rates in the other three were 1%, 2%, and 3%. This happened despite continued population growth in the outer suburbs.


Photo by BeyondDC on Flickr.

The boom in ridership on these buses has at least 4 likely causes. For starters, gas prices have gone up, while the social stigma attached to riding a bus has lessened. In addition, since house prices have gone down compared to closer-in areas, new residents of the exurbs are less affluent and want to save money by taking the bus. There's also a growing immigrant population in the outer suburbs, who don't look down on buses as much as the native-born do.

All of these factors are long-term trends that will keep ridership growing in future years. Indeed, the demographic changes have just begun. The consequences of the outer-suburb real estate bust will be felt for years to come as the housing stock gradually passes into new hands.

Quite aside from predictions for the future, the data point to one immediate action item. The number of bus trips has not kept up with growing demand. By 2012, only 75 more bus trips had been added to the 421 that ran each day in 2006, and many of the new trips were on low-ridership routes along the ICC.

A piece of Maryland's new transportation funding ought to go for additional commuter buses. When car traffic is stagnant and bus ridership is zooming, more buses are a better use of money than wider roads.

Ben Ross was president of the Action Committee for Transit for 15 years. His new book about the politics of urbanism and transit, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism, is published by Oxford University Press. 

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Prof Joe Schweiterman at DePaul Univ. has done a lot of work on the growth of intercity buses, as well as the use of "personal electronic devices" by travel mode. IIRC, buses have the highest rate of device use for all travel modes, after Acela. I would guess a lot of the same findings would apply for longer haul commuter buses for the same basic set of reasons.

by spookiness on Jun 21, 2013 10:49 am • linkreport

MARC also serves a lot of outer suburbs and it's ridership has been growing even faster

by Richard Bourne on Jun 21, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

There is no arguing that bus ridership has increased, but the rate of growth in the outer-suburbs has grown much faster. I would argue a better explanation for a stagnation in highway travel is an increase in employment opportunities in the outer-suburbs, allowing for some live-near-your-work type trips. For example, it has been a goal of Calvert County to establish an industrial/business park in each of the County's voting districts to create local job opportunities. Pax river in St Mary's county also had a huge job boom in the early 2000's that turned into a contractor job boom in the mid 2000's that created a reverse commute for some residents of Calvert and Charles County, commuting south rather than north. Frederick and Washington Counties have also been successful in attracting employment opportunities to their Counties reducing the need to commute in toward the City.

I'm not using the above to state that we shouldn't increase bus opportunity on the busy corridors, just suggesting there is more behind the data.

I actually think Bus/BRT should be explored especially to southern Maryland and Charles Co in particular. I did read that more bus routes are coming to Charles County this year in the form one one additional round trip bus during morning and afternoon rush-hour on the existing lines, plus the addition of a whole new line with new trips. There is a lot of talk of a Charles Co light rail to Branch Avenue, which I don't see ever getting off the ground, due to the long length, and low density along the route. I do thing Rt 5 is prime for BRT however, with sections of the roadway already an expressway, and many other segments with lights are still limited in access with wide shoulders. If this does not already happen, there should be allowed Bus shoulder use along Rt 5 so the buses can jump the long backups of cars as signals.

by Gull on Jun 21, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

I have out of town kin who were staying in a hotel near Union Station. They wanted to go to Baltimore and I suggested riding MARC. I had NO idea the last MARC train from Union Station to Camden stop leaves Union at 8am!!!!!!!!! They were told to get off at a station on the way and to get on the light rail. This is on a weekday - INSANE!!!!!

by Capt. Hilts on Jun 21, 2013 11:09 am • linkreport

" I would argue a better explanation for a stagnation in highway travel is an increase in employment opportunities in the outer-suburbs, allowing for some live-near-your-work type trips. "

thats likely true in places like Prince William County and southern Fairfax in NoVa, where BRAC has brought jobs at Ft Belvoir closer, and probably reduced the proportion of commuters to DC and Arlington. Not sure if something similar has happened at Ft Meade.

But shorter suburban commutes are typically by auto, so that makes the increase in bus ridership even more dramatic.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

capt hilts - the more frequent service is on the Penn Line. Camden line, even more than Penn line, is for commuters to DC.

And of course neighter is really set up (yet) as a general purpose intercity line, AFAICT - that is still Amtrak's role.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 11:12 am • linkreport

Echoing @AWITC. Use the Penn Line, it's way more flexible:

http://mta.maryland.gov/sites/default/files/Penn_March2013.pdf

Unfortunately, you'll have to use the light rail to go to the Inner Harbor (if that's where you want to go) after getting off at Penn St.

by dc denizen on Jun 21, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

I'm not sure that graphs are the best way to present these data. You have a total of seven data series, four of which only have two points each. A table of growth rates might make this a lot more obvious.

Also, a really obvious first step for MTA might be to provide some map of these commuter buses. I was curious and looked through the MTA website for one, but the closest I got was a "Regional Transit" map which contains lots of other bus routes and only goes as far south as Laurel. You can find individual maps if you already know which route you want, but that's not exactly helpful to new riders.

by Gray on Jun 21, 2013 11:17 am • linkreport

The use of two separate plots for this data is pretty deceptive. The different scales amplify the changes in the bus data, and make it appear more significant. If this were plotted on the highway traffic scale, it appear that the bus traffic, way down at bottom of the plot, hardly changed at all. In any case whatever bus increase is small compared to the scatter in the other data.

by goldfish on Jun 21, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

@Capt. Hilts
Penn Line has trains to Baltimore every hour or better. Penn Station is also in downtown, so they should have just taken that. The free Circulator buses service Penn but not Camden.

by Richard Bourne on Jun 21, 2013 11:31 am • linkreport

goldfish

then just index it, and put it on the same graph.

if the implication is that the decline in cars is DUE to all those folks shifting to bus, your point is correct.

The increase in bus is not large enough to account for the decline in cars. Something else was happening (and there are LOTS of things that something else could be)

But if the point is that bus ridership increased despite an environment (high unemployment, rising teleworking, etc) where auto traffic decreased, than the contrast ben draws is quite on point.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 11:35 am • linkreport

"The different scales amplify the changes in the bus data, and make it appear more significant."

er no. Zero is the bottom of the bus graph, so the change is accurate in showing the percentage increase in bus ridership, about 50% it appears.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

@goldfish

"traffic" and "bus riders" are not equal measurements of anything so you can't put them on the same scale.

The fact that the graphs are not the same height conveys that they are not directly relatable to one another.

by MLD on Jun 21, 2013 11:40 am • linkreport

I can plot the data, but how can I upload it without loosing anonymity?

MLD: The distinction between bus riders and number of cars is not that important considering that nearly all cars are single-occupant vehicles.

by goldfish on Jun 21, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

Jeebus.

let me summarize.

the bus count for MTA commuter buses reaches about 17,000

thats less than half the number of vehicles on Md 5, which is the lowest volume of the roads shown.

OTOH MTA commuter buses are only a part of the total transit picture, which includes other buses, MARC, etc. But then these highways are only part of the total auto trip picture.Note total traffic includes trucks, non commute trips, etc.

It seems that its not possible to say much of ANYTHING about mode share from this data.

But it IS possible to say that this commuter bus service grew by about 50% in only 8 years. during a time when highway traffic in the same region was basically flat.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 12:13 pm • linkreport

So I see the rate of change is mixed but more or less flat across total number of vehicles but the rate of change on people using buses on those highways is much more dramatic.

I might be wrong but that's why we have the two graphs right? To illustrate this? It's about the rates not the gross numbers.

by drumz on Jun 21, 2013 12:13 pm • linkreport

drumz

remember, if more folks drive than take the bus, this SHOWS that everyone should drive and we should put less resources into buses. Ditto for biking.

Same as trends for WUPS dont count as long as most people live in non-WUPs.

Havent you learned all the rhetorical tropes by now?

clearly all those commuter bus riders from Kent Island are flipflop wearing hipster Prague wannabes who despise the American Way.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 12:19 pm • linkreport

I can plot the data, but how can I upload it without loosing anonymity?

Sorry, guess you'll have to just cast that aside if you want to properly nitpick apart data.

Jeebus, the desire to just constantly pick everything apart into tinier pieces so you can marginalize whatever you want and then claim it's not important is tiring. Just say that!

We get it: fewer people ride the bus than drive so transit is terrible and worthless and we should clearly put all our eggs in the almighty SOV basket. Nevermind that ridership on these buses is up 50% over the past 6 years!

by MLD on Jun 21, 2013 12:22 pm • linkreport

@drumz: the data is too sketchy to say much of anything.

1. For most of the arteries (MD4, MD5, US29, M175, I-270) there are only two or three points, so the "trend" is not discernible because there is no way to judge the measurement scatter.

2. The fluctuation in US50 is 4-5 times that of the increase in bus traffic.

3. I-95 is not shown. The numbers for this road are 161780 in 2006.5 and 160880 in 2009.5, far higher than any other artery.

OK, so bus traffic increased 50%, but the magnitude of that change (about 5000) is insignificant compared to the total auto traffic.

by goldfish on Jun 21, 2013 12:22 pm • linkreport

@goldfish

While we're picking at it, let me also point out that those traffic counts measure ALL traffic on those roads, not traffic during commute times when buses are operating nor traffic that is trips that can be made by commuter buses. Surely if we cut the traffic numbers down to only those comparable trips the bus trips numbers look much better.

by MLD on Jun 21, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

Is this like when they told me I'd lose money on a raise that puts me in a higher tax bracket?

by drumz on Jun 21, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

OK, so bus traffic increased 50%, but the magnitude of that change (about 5000) is insignificant compared to the total auto traffic.

If the argument was that the buses were having an impact on the traffic maybe. Except this is to show that more and more people are choosing to ride the bus and the rate of growth is fast compared to the rates of growth of other modes.

by drumz on Jun 21, 2013 12:29 pm • linkreport

@MLD: that is getting down there. While you are at it, you need to account for the changes in sluglines, HOV use, and subtract the bus traffic. But this set is not worth the effort.

by goldfish on Jun 21, 2013 12:31 pm • linkreport

@capt hilts.

They will want to take the Penn line to baltimore,
Then use the Circulator to get to the harbor.
It's free, and faster than the MTA buses.
The is a also a Circulator going from a stop two blocks from camden station to the harbor.

Does anyone know why the state/city didn't purchase Howard Street tunnel and offer CSX to help with a replacement tunnel back when they were flush with money for things like
the baltimore travel plaza and rocky gap?

by scratchy on Jun 21, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

goldfish

Youd also need to address the fact that many of the highway trips that ARE commute trips, are in fact to peripheral employment locations, while I presume almost all the MTA commuter bus trips are to DC. So the point may well be that outer suburbs are turning to transit FOR commute trips to DC - but not necessarily other trips.

Here in NoVa there are lots of folks who consider VRE the best thing since sliced bread, but drive for all non commute trips, and would certainly drive to Tysons and other NoVa workplaces.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 12:47 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: these data are too sketchy to conclude anything. The deception is the heroic effort to say that there is an emerging trend of bus ridership, compared to auto use, when in fact the auto data is pretty much worthless.

I wonder if the number of MTA bus riders tracks its funding. You add lines and spend tax dollars, it is not surprising that there is a corresponding increase in use.

by goldfish on Jun 21, 2013 1:04 pm • linkreport

The auto data basically show flat vehicle counts - which seems consistent with national data, for example. And data recently published for the entire DC region. Id say its pretty credible, as a broadbrush picture. Compared to which, the growth of bus usage is dramatic.

Is there new service? I don't know. If you think that's teh explanation for the change, you should research it, and tell us about the service increases.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

The auto data basically show flat vehicle counts.

Over what years? Because the years are different for each road, it does not show this at all; it shows nothing.

And note well that this only for the six largest highways. There are scores of other roads.

by goldfish on Jun 21, 2013 1:16 pm • linkreport

"Over what years? Because the years are different for each road, it does not show this at all; it shows nothing."

Over whatever periods data was available for between 2005 and 2013.

Of course you can't add them up. You CAN however, eyeball the trend. I think the result is pretty clear.

"And note well that this only for the six largest highways. There are scores of other roads."

Most of which won't have vehicle counts. And won't be the roads the commuter buses go on.

Are you suggesting that commuter traffic to DC has shifted from the highways to local roads? Interesting thesis.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 1:23 pm • linkreport

@scratchy
The City did try and buy the Howard Street Tunnel, back when they were building the light rail. CSX wouldnt part with it and a replacement is too expensive. The B&P tunnel replacement that is currently being studied would give CSX an alternate and faster route so they might be interested in selling, or at least letting MARC use the tunnel, but that is slated to cost 2-3 billion dollars.

by Richard Bourne on Jun 21, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

I would like to see the numbers for 95 and 295, although 95's numbers would probably dwarf everything else

by Richard Bourne on Jun 21, 2013 1:28 pm • linkreport

@goldfish:
I wonder if the number of MTA bus riders tracks its funding. You add lines and spend tax dollars, it is not surprising that there is a corresponding increase in use.
Did you read the article at all? Allow me to quote:
By 2012, only 75 more bus trips had been added to the 421 that ran each day in 2006, and many of the new trips were on low-ridership routes along the ICC.

by Gray on Jun 21, 2013 1:28 pm • linkreport

Over whatever periods data was available for between 2005 and 2013.

I challenge you to show this trend with hard figures.

Are you suggesting that commuter traffic to DC has shifted from the highways to local roads? Interesting thesis.

I am not *suggesting* anything, because there is no data to show a trend either way.

The data is crap. Period.

by goldfish on Jun 21, 2013 1:29 pm • linkreport

"Over whatever periods data was available for between 2005 and 2013.
I challenge you to show this trend with hard figures."

as I said, you can't add them up. You can eyeball them. Thats how we make most decisions in life.

If you were running a company, and had data on sales of various product lines, and the data was like the above - non commensurate start and end dates, etc - would you A. Be concerned that sales appeared flat or B. say "this data is crap, dont bother me"

The reality is that we often have inadequate data. But even imperfect data is better than none in informing discussion.

Though I suppose to people who prefer to argue from rights, from anecdotes, from deductive reasoning, etc, setting a high hurdle for empirical data is useful.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 1:41 pm • linkreport

"I challenge you to show this trend with hard figures."

I challenge you to show that vehicle traffic is growing in that region, with hard figures.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 1:42 pm • linkreport

I challenge you to show that vehicle traffic is growing in that region, with hard figures.

Now why on earth would I want to do that? what would that prove?

by goldfish on Jun 21, 2013 1:49 pm • linkreport

Speaking of the MARC, it'd be pretty rad to have expanded service on the Brunswick Line. It's always seemed a little crazy that the line only provides service in one direction (and for a very limited number of trains per day).

by andrew on Jun 21, 2013 1:49 pm • linkreport

"I challenge you to show that vehicle traffic is growing in that region, with hard figures.
Now why on earth would I want to do that? what would that prove?"

why would I take up your challenge, when its clear from eyeballing the traffic count data (in context of regional data, etc) that traffic is essentially flat, and that the 50% increase in bus ridership is a huge success.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

when its clear from eyeballing the traffic count data (in context of regional data, etc) that traffic is essentially flat...

You eyeball at your peril, and it is certainly not a good way to set policy. I repeat, this data set is too incomplete to identify *any* trend whatsoever. Moreover, given the increase in property values and new commercial and housing construction, particularly in the exurbs, it is risky to assume that the road use is flat. Sure doesn't seem that way to me over the past ten years.

"[Practitioners] deem a fit acceptable if the graph of the data a model 'looks good.' This is known as chi-by-eye. Luckily, its practitioners get what they deserve." -- W. H. Press et al., Numerical Recipes (Cambridge University Press, 1986).

by goldfish on Jun 21, 2013 2:06 pm • linkreport

The closest we get to specific policy reccomendation is this.

A piece of Maryland's new transportation funding ought to go for additional commuter buses.

I think I'd support that statement no matter what the stats suggested. Simultaneously, I'd expect transportation and elected officials to work from data more rigourous certainly.

But for our purposes, the data backs up the claims made in the article. That ridership on commuter buses is growing while overall traffic counts remain steady. To make any other claim is to mis-interpret what the graphs are showing not the other way round.

by drumz on Jun 21, 2013 2:13 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: I challenge you to show that vehicle traffic is growing in that region, with hard figures.

There are many, many articles that come to this conclusion.

http://www.wnyc.org/blogs/transportation-nation/2012/nov/29/prediction-d-c-area-highway-and-transit-crowding-will-get-worse/

by goldfish on Jun 21, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

[Practitioners] deem a fit acceptable...

This comes from page 499 of Numerical Recipes, and the author is writing about "Practitioners of parameter estimation" who are fitting data to models with adjustable statistical parameters (like chi squared). It is not a caution against plottings several data sets on the same graph, and drawing a line through each data set to observe trends.

Anyone with enough free time is invited to do a complete statistical analysis of the SHA database linked in the article.

by Ben Ross on Jun 21, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

There are many, many articles that come to this conclusion.

So traffic is predicted to increase in the future and that proves that numbers that show a steady trend in the past are bunk. Meanwhile, the WNYC article doesn't make any mention whether those making the predictions observed anything that would contradict what was posted here.

And commuter buses are still becoming more and more popular. Either way, its suggested that it'd be prudent to add more commuter buses.

by drumz on Jun 21, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

" The Washington metropolitan region faces worsening traffic congestion and transit crowding as its population and job growth expand over the next three decades, according to a forecast released on Wednesday by a regional planning group."

one essential for becoming skilled enough at data analysis, to give and receive challenges, to call data crap, etc, would be to be able to distinguish between the next three decades and the last 8 years.

"You eyeball at your peril, and it is certainly not a good way to set policy."

nor are abstract arguments from deductive logic, arguments from anecdote, etc. Nonetheless, in the absence of perfect data, policy must be set.

"Moreover, given the increase in property values and new commercial and housing construction, particularly in the exurbs, it is risky to assume that the road use is flat."

No one is assuming it, we are arguing it from data. You however are assuming that road use relative to quantity of housing is constant, which seems a much shakier assumption than that these highways are representative of other roads in the region, or that the particular endpoints chosen are not having a significant effect on the trend.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 2:38 pm • linkreport

And by the way, don't even think about the traffic data used to calibrate the COG model discussed in goldfish's link. In the COG model, the number of adjustable parameters is many times greater than the number of measured data points. Such modeling is completely devoid of statistical validity in the sense discussed in Chapter 14 of Numerical Recipes. Much, much worse than drawing lines through the data to estimate a trend.

by Ben Ross on Jun 21, 2013 2:39 pm • linkreport

"A piece of Maryland's new transportation funding ought to go for additional commuter buses.

I think I'd support that statement no matter what the stats suggested. Simultaneously, I'd expect transportation and elected officials to work from data more rigourous certainly."

certainly that ridership has grown by 50% over 8 years, apparently with no major service expansions, suggests thats a good idea. Whether traffic has stayed flat, or has perhaps grown by 5%. Or 10%.

The question of mode SHARE is not crucial to deciding to run more commuter buses. It may be relevant to other policies Ben has in mind, but since he has not stated them (and since undoubtedly they would raise other questions) the relevance of THIS data to them is unclear.

So it seems to me the mention of autos being flat is not so much relevant to a specific policy question at hand, as its trying to set the tone of conversation. Much like all the comments we see pointing out the needs of construction workers for cars, etc, etc.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 2:43 pm • linkreport

the man who creates this map http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Snow-cholera-map-1.jpg

did not create latitude longitude variables, or do rigourous statistical analysis of distances compared to other variables. Nonetheless he proved the means of transmission of cholera, and revolutionized public health.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 2:46 pm • linkreport

'created'

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 2:46 pm • linkreport

AWitC: nor are abstract arguments from deductive logic, arguments from anecdote, etc. Nonetheless, in the absence of perfect data, policy must be set.

I am a little astonished that you seem to agree with the notion that the traffic around here has stayed flat for the past 10 years or so. Your contention is counter to real estate prices, housing construction, road construction, the widening of the beltway and numerous exurban arterials, the huge investment in the Wilson bridge and beltway-I95 interchange, the universally acknowledged need for highway improvements, the many Texas Transportation Institute studies that increasing commute times, the widely applauded silver line and purple line to "get people out of cars" and relieve congestion, and so on and so forth. That traffic is worse around here is an accepted assumption, just ask Dr. Gridlock. One little and very sketchy data set that goes against this is not enough proof to the contrary. It makes me think that all you are doing here is yanking my chain, and unless I see some very surprising, well sourced studies that show the contrary, I shall treat your comments accordingly.

@Ben Ross: And by the way, don't even think about the traffic data used to calibrate the COG model discussed in goldfish's link.

Not familiar with the details here, I will take your word for it. But because it is wrong does not make the conclusion you come to here about traffic correct.

by goldfish on Jun 21, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

It's not an argument about whether traffic is bad, (it is). It's about whether one can look at the graph and say "data shows traffic has remained flat for the past few years".

Traffic can remain flat and still be bad.

by drumz on Jun 21, 2013 3:19 pm • linkreport

Further, it's just traffic on those roads. Traffic very well may have increased on 95. Or in Va. Or DC.

/except for other reports we've had on here that have pointed out that things like VMT are down. This is hardly the first time its been pointed out that people are driving less (in this case relative to pop. increase).

by drumz on Jun 21, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

you are mixing up statements about how things have been for a long time, projections about what they will become like,etc.

Take the Silver Line for example. It was planned out by 2005 (though not yet approved) and was to deal both with the congestion that already existed in 2005, and with that likely to come as the region grows for the next several decades. That traffic may have been flat from 2005 to 2013 (Im not sure it has been on THAT corridor, note its Md highways we are discussing, and IIUC employment growth in NoVa, esp the tech corridor, has been a good bit faster than in Md) does not mean the silver line should not have been built.

The mixing of totally different things, mostly irrelevant, is very lacking in rigor and logic, far more so than plotting a line through data points to get a trend.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 3:36 pm • linkreport

"Traffic can remain flat and still be bad."

Agreed to a large degree of scope.

Increasing commute times seem more a byproduct of suburban sprawl development patterns and don't directly tie to "worsening congestion" at a peak load point as much as may seem. If an automobile commuter works in Downtown and starts out renting in White Oak, but later elects to buy a newly built house in Columbia for any number of personal reasons, their commute time will obviously increase, but the fact that they are a car counted among "Route 29 traffic" at a common peak load point may remain unchanged.

The more people that do this, the longer commute times will change, and yes, traffic on 29 will be bad for a longer stretch of space, although "use of 29" for many of these commuters will appear flat.

Of course, if these same moves are to some degree responsible for traffic being "flat in count, but worse in degree," this same migration is also a contributor to the steady uptick in Commuter Bus ridership.

by A. P. on Jun 21, 2013 3:36 pm • linkreport

"That traffic is worse around here is an accepted assumption, just ask Dr. Gridlock. "

worser than what? than in other metro areas? Than it was in 1990? In 1995? The question at issue is only if its worse than in 2005.

And around here refers specifically to suburban Maryland.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 3:39 pm • linkreport

rhetorical trick number 534.

If auto traffic has increased, use it to suggest the need for more roads. To suggest the impossibility of getting mode shift from cars. To deny the feasibility of car free or carlite lifestyles.

if auto traffic has decreased, use it to call into question the need for transit projects.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 3:40 pm • linkreport

According to the TTI's data total delay and delay per auto commuter have not risen substantially since 2001 in the DC area. Delay per auto commuter was 67 hours in 2011 and 68 hours in 2001, so that's gone down. Total delay is up 9% in those 10 years. Meanwhile, the transit service in the area is decreasing individual delay by 20%.

by MLD on Jun 21, 2013 3:41 pm • linkreport

@AWitC: if auto traffic has decreased, use it to call into question the need for transit projects.

If it is flat that does question the need for transportation improvements, of whatever mode.

by goldfish on Jun 21, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

Interesting that no one has noticed yet that the rise in bus ridership tracks pretty well with the rise in suburban poverty. Please just consider that not EVERYTHING in the DC area is transit determined.

I suppose the next hypothesis will be that poverty makes for more eyes on the street. Like I said; interesting.

by Alger on Jun 21, 2013 4:17 pm • linkreport

alger

this was in the OP

"In addition, since house prices have gone down compared to closer-in areas, new residents of the exurbs are less affluent and want to save money by taking the bus."

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

If it is flat that does question the need for transportation improvements, of whatever mode.

Good thing we have a graph showing a rise in people taking the bus to work then.

Interesting that no one has noticed yet that the rise in bus ridership tracks pretty well with the rise in suburban poverty.

A: that's addressed in the article (people realize its expensive to get to work and look for ways to cut costs)

B: Is there some sort of causation you're seeing here?

by drumz on Jun 21, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

Goldfish

If A. current conditions do not justify the investment and B. There is reason to expect things to stay the same in the future.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 4:33 pm • linkreport

though Im not sure incomes have really gone down in places like Kent Island or even St Marys County. Data?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 21, 2013 4:38 pm • linkreport

I think the blog post would have been more effective as advocacy for bus transit if the highway traffic graph had been left out. The article astutely discusses increases in bus transit, and then throws in a graph about highway usage that may or may not have anything at all to do with bus transit (if it does, the author certainly provides no evidence or data to that effect).

And I also agree that the two graphs, being placed side by side and having nearly identical formatting and identical x-axis values could deceive (either intentionally or not) an un-attuned reader into thinking

by Scoot on Jun 24, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

Heaven forbid we deceive readers into thinking! :)

by David Alpert on Jun 24, 2013 11:04 am • linkreport

*that the two graphs are at the same scale.

You got me David! One of the pitfalls of a 20th century internet commenting system -- no edit capability.

by Scoot on Jun 24, 2013 11:19 am • linkreport

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