Southern Californians are on a car-buying spree, and that's cutting deeply into transit ridership, study says

The vast majority of public transit agencies across Southern California, from modest municipal carriers to the West Coast's largest bus system, have watched their ridership numbers fall off a cliff over the last five years.

As data has revealed multi-year decreases of up to 25%, experts and officials have stopped debating whether the decline exists, and have instead turned their attention to why.

Their frequent theories? Cheap gas, concerns about security on transit, gentrification and the suburbanization of poverty, changing immigration patterns, and the rise of transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft.

While those factors may still play a role, a surge in vehicle ownership across Southern California is largely to blame for the ridership decline, according to a new UCLA study.

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