Research Roundup: More Transit = More Jobs, Congestion Trends & Statistics, Managing Increased Ridership

The Transportation Equity Network (TEN) has released More Transit = More Jobs: The Impact Of Increasing Funding For Public Transit (31p. PDF). TEN is a coalition of more than 350 grassroots organizations in 41 states that has worked since 1997 to build a more just, prosperous, and connected America.

This study asks two key questions:

What would be the effect on jobs in each metropolitan area of shifting 50% of the money spent on highways to public transit?

How many jobs would be created in each metro area if we increased funding on public transit at the rate indicated by the Transportation For America proposal for the next transportation authorization act?

The report highlights several statistics in answering those questions based on data from Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPS) in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas. For example, 1,123,674 new transit jobs would be created over a 5-year period for a net gain of 180,150 jobs without a single dollar of new spending.

However, if federal spending on transit increased as proposed by TEN and Transportation For America, an estimated 1.3 million jobs over the life of the law would be created, as well as almost 800,000 more jobs than under present federal transporation law (SAFETEA-LU).

The Federal Highway Administration published the 2009 Urban Congestion Trends (8p. PDF) document last week. This brief report utilizes a dashboard format to convey year-over-year changes in key traffic measures: daily hours of congestion, time penalty for eqach trip, worst-trip time penalty. Some key observations include:

  • Overall, congestion had declined in almost all monitored regions between 2008 and 2009
  • Less wasted time and fewer hours of the day were devoted to stop-and-go traffic in 16 of the 23 monitored regions
  • At least one of the three measures improved in 20 of the 23 monitored regions
  • Congestion is lowest during the summer vacation season

The report goes on to explain how operational improvements can mitigate congestion and promote smooth, safe and consistent traffic flow.

Examples provided from around the country include high-occupancy/toll lanes, freeway ramp metering, improved information coordination, work-zone management, and traffic signal system improvement programs.

In Managing Increasing Ridership Demand (32p. PDF), The FTA’s Transit Cooperative Research Program presents an overview of a study mission investigating how several transit operators and agencies in Latin America accomodate sudden and significant growth in the number of riders and increasing demand for service.

Case studies from Guayaquil (Ecuador), Santiago (Chile), Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Porto Alegre (Brazil) were selected because they have faced and successfully dealt with challenges similar to recent ridership grown in the United States.

Each city’s responses offer unique insight into managing increasing transit ridership and providing various perspectives on serving the mobility needs of their communities.

Two International Transit Studies Program study missions such as this are conducted each year. They have three objectives: To afford team members the opportunity to expand their network of domestic and international public transportation peers, to provide a forum for discussion of global initiatives and lessons learned in public transportation, and to facilitate idea sharing and the possible import of strategies for application to transportation communities in the United States.