Increasing Transit Ridership: Lessons from the Most Successful Transit Systems in the 1990s

Abstract: 

This study systematically examines recent trends in public transit ridership in the U.S. during the 1990s. Specifically, this analysis focuses on agencies that increased ridership during the latter half of the decade. While transit ridership increased steadily by 13 percent nationwide between 1995 and 1999, not all systems experienced ridership growth equally. While some agencies increased ridership dramatically, some did so only minimally, and still others lost riders. What sets these agencies apart from each other? What explains the uneven growth in ridership?

Authors: 

BRIAN D. TAYLOR, PH.D., AICP

Brian D. Taylor is an associate professor and vice-chair of urban planning, and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles. His research centers on both transportation finance and travel demographics. He has examined the politics of transportation finance, including the influence of finance on the development of metropolitan freeway systems, and the effect of public transit subsidy programs on both system performance and social equity. His research on the demographics of travel behavior have emphasized access-deprived populations, including women, racial-ethnic minorities, the disabled, and the poor. Dr. Taylor’s work in this area has also explored the relationships between transportation and urban form, with a focus on commuting and employment access for low-wage workers. Prior to coming to UCLA in 1994, he was an assistant professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and before that, he served as a transportation analyst with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in Oakland, California. Dr. Taylor teaches courses in transportation policy, and planning and research design.

Published: 

June 2002

Keywords: 

Transit ridership
Transit buses
Transit fares