Transit Trends

End of the year columns usually come in one of two varieties: a retrospective or a prediction. Sure they can be presented in any number of ways (Top 10 list, Year’s Best, What to Expect) and written with a variety of tones (serious, funny, thoughtful), but they all come down to either looking backward or forward.

With that in mind, I decided to turn to the Internet and see what people were interested in this year. If you haven’t used it, Google has a neat feature called Google Trends, where you can type in a keyword or words and see how often they have been searched via Google over time. When Google Trends notices a spike in searches, an article from that period is listed giving you an idea of what people were reading.

So I took a couple keywords (mass transit, public transportation, public transit) and tried to see what was trending in 2010. The results were interesting. The trending dates and articles included:

  • January 21 - Disabled Vets Can Learn How to Ride Public Transportation (http://tinyurl.com/2epnemf)
  • January 26 - Detroit’s Revival Hinges on Efficient Mass Transit, PBS Documentary Argues (http://tinyurl.com/2epjqaj)
  • March 5 - Feds Spend Stimulus Money on Massachusetts Transit Funding (http://tinyurl.com/27ndyqb)
  • September 28 - Return on Public Transit Investment ‘Phenomenal’ (http://tinyurl.com/2b7wm5f)
  • November 16 - The 10 Most & Least Expensive Public Transportation Cities in the World (http://tinyurl.com/26w2r86)

Kind of interesting. So what were our readers looking at on those dates:

  • January 21 - Spanish Manufacturer Admits Flaws in Pittsburgh’s Light-Rail Trains (http://tinyurl.com/26bt9fb)
  • January 26 - New Washington Metro Board Member Sees ‘Serious Disorder’ in Transit Agency (http://tinyurl.com/26wcs7s)
  • March 5 - Chinese Train Company Formally Bids for Large Montreal Metro Contract (http://tinyurl.com/2ecboqq)
  • September 28 - Mass Transit Announces Its Top 40 Under 40 List (http://tinyurl.com/2bw948h)
  • November 16 - Walker Creates Jobs, but Not in Wisconsin (http://tinyurl.com/25lbsrl)

While Google gives you a wide swath (which is kind of its thing), Mass Transit readers definitely dialed into rail this year, and such was the case with the transit industry. Who could blame them with historic federal rail investment in the form of stimulus funds being handed out and, almost impossibly, handed back in some cases in 2010.

So where does that leave us? I somehow feel like we’ve traveled 72 years back in time what with the similarities between President Roosevelt creating a hand-drawn U.S. map with eight highway corridors on it in what would eventually become our Interstate Highway System and President Obama’s Vision for High-Speed Rail in America map.

The vision is there, but it’s the will that needs to be found as we head into 2011. Let’s hope we can find the way to put aside difference and make this work.

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