What is Transit?
Millions of Californians commute to work, arrive at school or head to the shopping mall each day using public transportation (public transit) provided by their local governments or other non-profit entities. These Californians experience firsthand what public transit is designed to deliver – the freedom of mobility.
Representing the agencies that provide these vital transportation services – as well as the suppliers, manufacturers and other businesses that support them – the California Transit Association believes the value of transit actually extends beyond the mobility it offers its current riders.
Public transit systems create jobs and stimulate local economies. Transit helps cut greenhouse gas emissions by providing a cost-efficient alternative to driving, and reduces our dependence on foreign oil. Transit riders help reduce traffic congestion and subsequently travel times for all. In sum, with better public transit comes better quality of life for riders, non-riders, community stakeholders, businesses and the public at-large.
As California’s population has grown and spread geographically, transit has too. No longer does transit simply mean riding the bus. It frequently means considering several options or using more than one means to travel: light rail, shuttles, vanpools, paratransit services for direct commutes and bus rapid transit systems are some of the ways our industry is now getting people where they need to be. In fact, riders take an average of 1.5 unlinked trips to reach their destination1.
Explore Transit History
Released in 2015 in conjunction with the California Transit Association’s 50th anniversary, A Brief History of Transit in California is available to download in flipbook format, or for purchase as a printed, bound book.
The book is the product of a collaboration between the Association and Elizabeth Deakin, Professor of City and Regional Planning and Urban Design at the University of California, Berkeley.
Demand for transit services will likely be staggering as population continues to rise in the state. By 2020, California will add about ten million people; by 2050 the state’s population could double to 70 million2. A significant percentage of the population will be elderly or disabled. As a fundamental component supporting stronger economies and communities, transit is more than a discretionary service. It is essential – and becoming increasingly more vital to the health and well being of our state.
Meanwhile, the economic downturn and state financial crisis is threatening the ability of public transit systems throughout California to provide basic services to their communities. Transit agencies are dealing with rising operation costs and disappearing funding. Operators have been forced to cut transit services, raise fares and seek new sources of revenue.
The challenges facing transit are significant and growing. The California Transit Association is dedicated to advocating for the creation of transit-friendly policy, to protect and increase transit funding, and to support a balanced transportation system.
To learn more about transit’s positive impact on economies, communities and the environment, visit publictransportation.org.
1 American Public Transportation Association, “2011 Public Transportation Fact Book, 62nd Edition,” April 2011.
2 California Department of Transportation, “Baselines: Current and Future Transit Trends, California Statewide Transit Strategic Plan,” July 2011.