Ridership projections reveal tricky calculus for transit planners | strib

I get quoted in the Strib by Eric Roper:  Ridership projections reveal tricky calculus for transit planners (though I wish he would clean up my conversational  speech so it looked better on paper. This is why interviews should be by email). Also he used “calculus” in an article.

Prof. David Levinson, a transportation expert at the University of Minnesota, said there is a valid reason for the conservative projections.

“All the forecasts that were done in the 70s, and 80s and 90s…most of them overestimated transit ridership,” Levinson said. “The forecasts that have been done since the new rules have been implemented have gotten much closer to expected ridership numbers.”

That helps federal funders, he said, but also creates some confusion about what exactly the forecasts represent.

“To call that the forecast means that everything will exceed forecast if there’s any economic development affects whatsoever, because you’re not accounting for any of them [economic development effects] or very little of them when you’re doing this,” Levinson said.

It stands in contrast to the city’s projections for a Nicollet-Central streetcar line, Levinson said, which has been sold as an economic development tool.

“I would claim that the streetcar forecasts are more in the line of advocacy forecasting. They were trying to get people to buy into the idea of this,” Levinson said, noting that they would likely have to be adjusted if the project advances in a quest for federal funding.

The forecasts may be about to change, however. John Welbes, a spokesman for the Southwest project, said new ridership estimates will be released between mid-August and early September.

Minnesota Transportation Roundtable: Friday Aug. 1 at 6:30pm on KSTP-TV (Channel 5)

I am scheduled to be part of a live roundtable discussion on MN transportation on Friday Aug. 1 at 6:30pm on KSTP-TV (Channel 5). (This marks the 7th anniversary of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge collapse).

The panel includes

  1. El Tinklenberg, Fmr. MNDOT Commissioner
  2. David Levinson
    Professor and RP Braun CTS Chair in Transportation
    University of Minnesota
  3. Kathy Quick Assistant Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs U of M
  4. Margaret Donahoe , Executive Director The MN Transportation Alliance

Edited: August 3, 2014

Updated: 08/01/2014 8:10 PM
Created: 08/01/2014 7:42 PM KSTP.com
By: Megan Stewart

The deadly 35W Bridge collapse in 2007 put “bridge safety” into the national spotlight.

Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, marks the seventh year since the structure fell into the Mississippi River during rush hour, killing 13 people and injuring 145 more.

The new bridge opened on Sept. 18, 2008, just before 5 a.m. It took only ten months to build.

But, less than seven years after the new bridge went up, a bridge inspection report by the Minnesota Department of Transportation shows the new bridge is aging.

KSTP sat down with four experts Friday to talk about bridge safety, along with the future of transportation.

The experts:

  • El Tinklenberg, former MnDOT Comissioner
  • David Levinson, professor from the University of Minnesota
  • Kathy quick, professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota
  • Margaret Donahoe, executive director of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance

Here is a link to the live panel discussion on KSTP TV: http://kstp.com/news/stories/s3521887.shtml