I’m just back from a week in Cleveland, where I introduced our new transit planning project to members of the transit agency board and began the process of working with staff to develop network concepts that will help the public think about their choices. Press coverage of my presentation is here, here, and here. The local advocates at Clevelanders for Public Transit are also on the case.
Cleveland is in a challenging situation. The city has been losing population for years and most growth has been in outer suburbs that were designed for total car dependence. Low-wage industrial jobs are appearing in places that are otherwise almost rural, requiring low-income people to commute long distances.
All this is heightening the difficulty of the ridership-coverage tradeoff. The agency faces understandable demands to run long routes to reach remote community colleges and low-wage jobs, but because these services require driving long distances to reach few people, they are always low-ridership services compared to what the agency could achieve if it focused more on Cleveland and its denser inner suburbs. There’s no right or wrong answer about what to do. The community must figure out its own priorities.
To that end, we have helped the agency launch a web survey to help people figure out what the agency should focus on. In April, we’ll release two contrasting maps that illustrate the tradeoff more explicitly, and again ask people what they think. Only then will we think about developing recommendations.
If you live in Cuyahoga County, please engage by taking the survey!