Public transportation was in trouble before COVID-19. Can it bounce back?

We want to know what you don’t like about public transportation, and what would make you ride more.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) A UTA bus picks up passengers in West Valley City, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022.

This story is part of The Salt Lake Tribune’s ongoing commitment to identify solutions to Utah’s biggest challenges through the work of the Innovation Lab.

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All aboard — or maybe not.

It’s no surprise that U.S. ridership on public transportation dropped 81% in April 2020, according to the National Transit Database (158.5 million rides taken vs. 835.1 million rides taken in April 2019).

But even before COVID-19 shut down life as we knew it, people were taking fewer bus and train rides.

A Cato Institute report states that while public transportation took 13% of Americans to work in 1960, in 2018 it carried just 5%.

Between fiscal years 2014 to 2018, the report continues, national bus ridership dropped 12.2% and rail usage across the country declined by 2.6%.

In urban areas with populations of less than 1 million and of more than 5 million, rides on public transportation decreased by 7.2%. Areas with a population between 1-5 million saw the most significant drop of 12.5%.

The Cato Institute report lists a number of reasons for this decline, from expense and time issues to the simple fact that nearly everyone has a car.

The Salt Lake Tribune wants to know why readers choose not to use public transportation. While COVID-19 is a major factor in recent years, what other issues keep you off of busses and trains?

Fill out the survey below or go to https://bit.ly/3pbm6lA. Your responses may be used in an upcoming story.