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Passenger Trains > MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic


Date: 09/16/20 06:13
MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic
Author: JPB

Here's a link to an MBTA assessment of the pandemic's impact on ridership on bus, trolley (Green Line) subway (Red, Orange, and Blue line), SIlver Line, the RIDE service*, and commuter rail ridership: https://cdn.mbta.com/sites/default/files/2020-08/2020-08-24-fmcb-1-report-from-general-manager.pdf

While urban bus service, Blue Line service, and RIDE service ridership have recovered to about 40% of pre-pandemic levels, the other urban transit services are hovering around 20%.

But commuter rail iseems to have hit a plateau of around 10% of pre-pandemic ridership as Boston employers (and the Governor) are still encouraging workers to work from home. 

For the long run, the commuter rail outlook is not encouraging. Here are a couple of excerpts from an early August survey of Boston employers published in a Boston.com article on August 27:

- The findings offer a glimpse at some of the long-term impacts the coronavirus pandemic may have on the workplace in the Bay State, with 47 percent of the employees at these companies anticipating continuing to work remotely even after a COVID-19 vaccine is in place.

Sixty percent of respondents indicated they are considering moving or allowing more work to be conducted out-of-state, and 54 percent said they are considering reducing their office space footprint. A mere 8 percent said they are considering moving a portion of their urban office space to a suburban location.

https://www.boston.com/news/coronavirus/2020/08/27/boston-office-work-from-home-survey



* The RIDE is a door-to-door bus service for those with disability or medical issues.

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/16/20 06:14 by JPB.




Date: 09/16/20 06:28
Re: MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic
Author: joemvcnj

As in NY & NJ, buses weathered this better since its patrons tend to have jobs that cannot be WFH. 
Chase is having to backtrack on ending tele-commuting as some their workers have tested positive. 



Date: 09/16/20 09:30
Re: MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic
Author: WP-M2051

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As in NY & NJ, buses weathered this better since
> its patrons tend to have jobs that cannot be
> WFH. 
> Chase is having to backtrack on ending
> tele-commuting as some their workers have tested
> positive. 

But, but, one of our frequent posters here says the pandemic is over and we should get back to normal!  FWIW, my stepdaughter is working from home; her office manager, doing the same, decided to go on a trip on a weekend to Southern CA and came down with COVID-19.  We're not done with this yet.



Date: 09/16/20 10:36
Re: MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic
Author: co614

The facts based truth is that we are a LONG WAYS from over with this issue. If we're VERY lucky we could be approaching something close to our old normal by early 2022, that's IF we get lucky and one of the multiple vaccines gets approved by Q3 2020 and mass available by mid 2021. Any delay in that vaccine approval date will push all else back accordingly.

   The ATPA estimates that air travel will not return to 2019 levels until 2024-2025. I'd guess that they'll prove to be correct.

    Ross Rowland 



Date: 09/16/20 11:01
Re: MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic
Author: abyler

co614 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The facts based truth is that we are a LONG WAYS
> from over with this issue. If we're VERY lucky we
> could be approaching something close to our old
> normal by early 2022, that's IF we get lucky and

We can go back to normal any time people get over their fears and decide they want to.  That's the pull end.

> one of the multiple vaccines gets approved by Q3
> 2020 and mass available by mid 2021. Any delay in
> that vaccine approval date will push all else back
> accordingly.

Just have to pass that magic word "indemnification" and it all goes away right now.  Its sad people have to be ordered around like children and would threaten to sue at the drop of a hat if anything bad happenes to them because of what they chose to do, but here we are as a society now.  That's the push end that eliminates the internal restrictions of businesses doing things like banning employees from travelling over a fear of lawsuits for providing an "unhealthy" workplace, or banning entertainment venues from opening for running an "unhealthy" operation.

>    The ATPA estimates that air travel will not
> return to 2019 levels until 2024-2025. I'd guess
> that they'll prove to be correct.

Unlikely. If the hysteria is dragged out longer things will never return to "normal" because the work arounds to the psychosis will set in as the "new normal".  Business can't wait, and the cities will find they will have killed themselves and their transit systems and their office economy.  Whole states can easily suffer if they are high cost and relatively undesirable places to live.  its a big country, there's a lot of cheaper places than Boston, Manhattan, and San Francisco.  The belief in economic suspended animation until magic vaccine happens is touching but it bears no resemblance to what is happening in the real world.

I bet interurban executives told themselves "recovery" and "normalcy" was just around the corner in 1931.  Just need to boost that old economy back up.  Passenger rail executives told themselves the same thing in the 1947-1952 period.  Didn't work out so well, did it?



Date: 09/16/20 16:18
Re: MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic
Author: choodude

abyler Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------


> We can go back to normal any time people get over their fears and decide they want to.  That's the pull end.

Sometimes it is really hard to tell what you mean.

Are you saying that all those folks who stop at red traffic lights are stopping because they are fearful and should just get over it and go through the red light?

Brian
 



Date: 09/16/20 18:12
Re: MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic
Author: jauberg82

choodude Wrote:

> Are you saying that all those folks who stop at
> red traffic lights are stopping because they are
> fearful and should just get over it and go through
> the red light?

Interesting analogy. If there's no compelling reason to run the red light then no, that would be a very foolish thing to do indeed. But let's say there is. Let's say that red light is just past a set of train tracks. We pulled right up to that red light, there's a bunch of cars pulled right up tight behind us and now...yep, you guessed it...there's a big giant PSR-size monster freight train bearing down on us at a high rate of speed. Some of you backseat drivers might say we shouldn't have pulled up onto the tracks like that and of course you would be right, but that doesn't do us a whole heck of a lot of good right now, does it? Nope. Sure doesn't. So here we are with no good options. We can either sit at this red light and do nothing and get splattered like a bug on a windshield or, we can dart out into that buzz saw cross traffic and hope for the best. Neither of these is a particularly great idea, but if the red light we're all stopped at is Covid and that big ol' freight train that's about to crush us like a soda can is complete and total societal devastation then yes, I would say we better take our chances and run that red light. It's the best bad idea we have.

Posted from Android



Date: 09/17/20 03:40
Re: MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic
Author: JPB

More grist for the mill:

Unsurprisingly in the pandemic era, MBTA finances are in a downward vortex as ridership has plummeted. Excerpts from attached Commonwealth Magazine article of 9/15/20:
:
WITH FINANCIAL CHALLENGES mounting at the MBTA, General Manager Steve Poftak joined transportation officials from across the country on Tuesday to press Congress to pass a stimulus package containing $32 billion of financial aid for the nation’s transit authorities.

The amount is more than the $25 billion the agencies received under the earlier CARES Act and far more than the $15.75 billion the House included in a stimulus package that is currently sitting dormant on Capitol Hill. A $32 billion package could be worth $1 billion to the MBTA.
and
:
the T is only beginning discussions on how to deal with an expected $300 to $600 million shortfall expected to show up in mid-2021. Poftak said the T will likely have to curtail its capital spending and cut services, actions that he said will impact employees and third-party vendors in the long run.
and
:
To preserve money for the maintenance of existing core assets, the [Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation] report recommends deferring or canceling many capital projects that are either planned or already on the drawing boards. Many of the projects already have a strong base of support.

New Red and Orange Line cars will be purchased, but the Taxpayers Foundation report said initiatives to achieve service levels every 3 to 4 ½ minutes could go, at least for now. So could proposals for a new West Station as part of the Allston I-90 makeover; a subway connection between the Red and Blue Lines; an expansion of track capacity at South Station; a transformation of the commuter rail network to electrify it and provide more frequent service; expanded service to Worcester, Springfield, Greenfield, the Berkshires, and Cape Cod; and the so-called phase two of the South Coast Rail project to New Bedford and Fall River.

The Taxpayers Foundation report suggests the capital spending program needs to change to accommodate changing work and travel patterns. “What drove the demand for travel before the pandemic – real estate usage, health care services, education, business conferences, and tourism – may not drive future transportation needs,” the report said.
https://commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/poftak-pushes-feds-for-32b-for-transit-agencies/



Date: 09/17/20 05:08
Re: MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic
Author: tmurray

This isn't surprising, as the NY MTA is facing a multi billion dollar shortfall. Ridership helps, but they'll still have a massive gap (this wasn't just a Covid issue, it was all compounded by Covid as the operating costs do take a hit).
It also appears this thread alone is a microcosm of how the average US IQ has clearly shrunk over the past few years and it's also unfortunate this virus can't be selective. It's not unlike going for a swim in an ocean with known shark activity, sure you can swim, the tide will ebb and flow but the sharks will leave if there's nothing to feed on and don't worry, not all shark bites are fatal.  Go for it, please.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/20 05:13 by tmurray.



Date: 09/17/20 05:40
Re: MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic
Author: RRTom

co614 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The facts based truth is that we are a LONG WAYS
> from over with this issue. If we're VERY lucky we
> could be approaching something close to our old
> normal by early 2022, 

My observation from NC is that most people are already moving on.  Traffic is up.  Development is happening (never really stopped).  Business travel is starting up again.
And we even have a Dem gov. who is not supportive of going back to normal anytime soon.



Date: 09/17/20 06:41
Re: MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic
Author: scraphauler

RRTom Wrote:

> My observation from NC is that most people are
> already moving on.  Traffic is up.  Development
> is happening (never really stopped).  Business
> travel is starting up again.
> And we even have a Dem gov. who is not supportive
> of going back to normal anytime soon.

I would agree with that - I've been traveling regularly between Indiana and North Carolina,  Only trip that was canceled was in early April at the heart of the shutdowns.  8 1/2 hour door to door drive time, and with reduced options on Delta for IND or CVG to RDU flights,  flying time with connections and to/from airports is 6 to 7 hours door to door, so I just drive it now. (Rail related content - Amtrak from SE Indiana to southern North Carolina is NOT a an option I am willing to waste that kind of time on).  Highway traffic has been consistently growing each trip.  And this last trip a week ago, the Hilton Homewood Suites I stay at was sold out 2 of the nights I was there - first time while there since pre-shutdowns.  



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/20 06:45 by scraphauler.



Date: 09/19/20 20:45
Re: MBTA Ridership v. Pandemic
Author: abyler

choodude Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> abyler Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > We can go back to normal any time people get
> over their fears and decide they want to.  That's
> the pull end.
>
> Sometimes it is really hard to tell what you
> mean.
>
> Are you saying that all those folks who stop at
> red traffic lights are stopping because they are
> fearful and should just get over it and go through
> the red light?

If people decide they want things to be more normal, they should try leaving their house and doing something normal.  I just had a very enjoyable day at Rockhill Furnace on the East Broadtop and trolley museum.. Some people are stll hiding under their covers.



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