Public transit use and access directly reflect the degree to which a regional transit network and its corresponding schedules meet the needs of residents, workers, and employers. An effective public transit system with extensive, regular ridership decreases traffic and travel times, reduces pollution, and creates desirable places to live and work for a diverse area of people. People who cannot afford cars or would rather not drive them on a regular basis are more likely to live near extensive and efficient public transit networks. In this scenario, businesses are also more accessible to employees and customers. This indicator measures the total annual rides on the two major transit authorities within the region (PVTA and FRTA) as well as Amtrak trains that service the region.
Between FY2015 and FY2016, total transit ridership remained fairly stable, increasing by just 0.5 percent. Trends varied across transit types. Bus ridership in the Pioneer Valley saw a modest increase of 0.73%, with PVTA ridership steadily growing and FRTA ridership experiencing a modest decline. At the same time, the region experienced a significant decrease in Amtrak riders coming in and out of Springfield – nearly 31,000 less passengers (-25%). While there were some increases in passenger rail riders north of Springfield in both Holyoke and Northampton that can be attributed to new stations and recently upgraded routes, this only accounted for about 6,500 riders. Much of the remaining decrease is likely due to construction that is being done south of Springfield on the tracks in Connecticut which have required passengers to be bused between New Haven, CT and Springfield, MA.