I ride a heavily used transit corridor. At midday service levels are dropped, no limited stop service, no partial express service, wider intervals between service and as a result the buses are standing room only and schedules are late which degrades the usability of this particular route, making the route unpredictable, uncomfortable and making it unusable for me to run midday errands.
This brings to my mind some questions: Is Metro Transit tracking usage on routes? How long does it take to respond to changes in usage? Are there other factors in the scheduling of service on routes or this particular route that are not transparent such as political policy?
I have seen announcements on route changes at least several times per year, but what causes these changes is unclear. Cutbacks in service happen regularly and actual traffic usage may not be a large factor. In a state administration that has privatization and removal of public services and infrastructure as a priority, building transit ridership and improving usability of the transit system has to be very low causes of transit changes. So what drives route changes?
For this particular route, a top LRT (Light Rail Transit) candidate, suppressing ridership and degraded usability has some political considerations. One way to look at it is that an LRT service may have fantastic increases over current ridership and much better usability making the political implementation of the LRT service an instant success.
But another way of looking at the current bad service is more like the current administration view: Depress ridership and give bad service to depress demand for the proposed LRT service. This is a ploy to delay LRT or even cancel LRT service at least until the current administration is over. Already there have been many roadblocks set up by the current Metro Council leader Peter Bell, who is appointed by the governor, "suddenly" discovering that there is no river crossing, endless studies, not applying for money, endless talk but no action.
Depressing ridership and having unusable transit helps this political strategy by suppressing the political demands for better service like LRT by masses of transit users. If there were many more riders and usability was better then there would be higher expectations of the LRT service to be better. At this time transit is an awful experience.
Unusable service depressing ridership is the overall political transit strategy. In other transit modes, like highways, pinching pennies and deferring maintenance costs have made freeway bridges fall into the Mississippi River. That too has stopped transit projects, as now there is an artificial "emergency" and the highway projects are getting all the priority so we do not die in falling bridges. It gives another handy excuse to cut transit service.
Route statistics reflecting demand for better usability of a transit route? HAW HAW ha ha hooooo yeah, not even remotely used.