The statistics don’t lie. Public transportation saw significant drop-offs when compared to its pre-pandemic numbers. With a New Year upon us, will we finally see workers return to mass transit to get to work?
Public transit outlook is down
To understand how much ridership has dropped in some places, consider what has happened since early 2020.
In New York, subway ridership from last year is down 50 percent or more a day from where it was pre-pandemic. Bus traffic during the workweek is down more than 60 percent. The Long Island Railroad and the Metro-North Railroad are also down more than 50 percent.
It’s not just the New York City metro area that is struggling. San Francisco’s BART has seen its ridership drop to 25-30 percent. The Virginia Railway Express, a commuter rail connecting Northern Virginia cities to Washington, DC, is experiencing a significant drop in ridership. Daily ridership trips average about 2,900 now. Before the pandemic, the VRE was doing 18,692 rides per day.
More people in cars
While public transportation ridership is on the decline, there’s anecdotal and factual evidence that more people are driving cars to work. The total traffic through bridges and tunnels run by the New York MTA is about 95-100 percent of the number of vehicles before the pandemic. The California Department of Transportation has said traffic in the Bay Area is at the same level before the pandemic.
Unfortunately, CEOs are predicting more uncertainty and volatility for businesses in 2022. While many companies should be able to compete because of the changes made for COVID-19, it still doesn’t mean employees have enough trust to take public transportation to work.
Companies have committed to a hybrid model where people won’t have to go to the office five days a week. That alone will lower ridership. Plus, public transit is still battling the perception that people are not as safe from COVID when they ride. In a worldwide survey conducted by Accenture, riders said ensuring other passengers are vaccinated, and operators can prove they can handle future pandemics are the top two reasons that would lead them to trust public transit again.
If you’re looking to have your employees commute back to the office, commuter benefits can help them out tremendously. If you’d like more information, book a meeting with us so we can help you find the best option for you.