EDITORIAL - The train stops here: Improving transit speed means good service, too

Written by Susan Mannella on .

The more stops a public transit system has, the more convenient it is for riders. Right?

Not exactly.

A consultant that's been helping the Port Authority undertake a major overhaul of bus and rail service says the South Hills light-rail system has some seldom-used stops. In fact, 20 stops have fewer than 50 inbound boardings a day. All told, these stops account for less than 4 percent of ridership, according to a story by Post-Gazette staff writer Jon Schmitz.

Sparse patronage numbers like that make public transit less, not more, convenient for the bulk of its passengers. Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates said the Allegheny County transit system is already slower and costlier than comparable systems, with its 2.9 stops per mile 60 percent higher than the average of its peers.

That's why the Port Authority's leaders are right to give the system's routes and stops a fresh, hard look with an eye toward pleasing customers. System CEO Steve Bland said some bus and rail stops are likely to be eliminated under the revised service plan that will be made public over the next few months.

No doubt, that will stir up some of the transit faithful. But by picking up speed and getting the overwhelming majority of passengers to their destinations more quickly, less is more.


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