Sunday, September 8, 2013

About Pittsburgh's Jitneys

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a nice story about Pittsburgh's jitneys in which my research with Eric Goldwyn (with assists from Annalisa Liberman and Cuthbert Onikute) is cited. I am quoted:

Realizing jitneys fill a transit gap, government agencies around the country have tried to regulate them but almost always fail. Jitneys service specific markets so when government agencies begin treating them like regular transportation providers -- requiring them to service designated routes, obtain licences and so on -- ridership decreases and so does interest by drivers.
Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Miami have all tried over the past few decades to create regulated jitney markets and failed, according to research by Columbia University's David King. He said Miami has had the most success largely by licensing its private van operators but then leaving them alone.
Cities are wrestling with regulating a new wave of Web services -- such as -- that coordinate shared rides over social media, while also studying how to rein in some old-fashioned jitneys and buses. In the greater New York area, calls have increased this summer for regulation of illicit "dollar bus" services after one struck and killed an infant July 30 in northern New Jersey.
"Taken together, what we have is a tremendous interest in what is a very old but very newly visible type of transit. The regulatory environment is unclear," said Mr. King, an assistant professor of urban planning.
"The regulatory calls you're hearing now are the same regulatory calls we've been hearing for a hundred years."
There are interesting things going on in Pittsburgh, as elsewhere.

Read more:

1 comment:

busplanner said...

About the North Jersey comment:

The jitneys (or at least most of them) technically operate as interstate services and are "legal" in that they have interstate route operating authority from the federal government.

The issues:

1. They operate almost exclusively over the prior existing routes of traditional public transit carriers. (Their model requires it.) They did not develop new routes; though there are many possibilities in densely populated northeastern New Jersey.

2. To attract customers, they undercut conventional bus fares.

3. Often, in order to capture passengers and maximize revenues, they operate in an unsafe manner.

4. Because of their revenue model, operators are often improperly trained, vehicles are not properly maintained, and insurance may not be adequate.

5. While they operate under interstate authority, they often only operate the intrastate portion of the route or simply refund passengers' fares and dump them along the route if they feel they will not make a profit operating the trip to its terminus, especially if a tunnel toll into New York is involved.

Increasing frequency on existing public transit routes has, in some cases, increased total ridership. And the jitneys fill faster than conventional buses because they are smaller. This can lead to a faster trip than on a conventional bus.

However, in many instances, the presence of jitneys has forces the conventional transit bus operator to cut back on or totally abandon service on the route. If the operator was a private operator (not NJ Transit, the state transit agency), NJ Transit ended up taking over the route, leading to increased cost to the taxpayer.