The National Academies

TCRP A-43 [Final]

Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership: Analysis, Causes, Responses

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Research Agency: Georgia Tech
Principal Investigator: Dr. Kari Watkins
Effective Date: 1/17/2019
Completion Date: 5/20/2021

After years of increasing transit ridership that culminated in 2014 with record levels, public transportation agencies throughout the United States have been losing riders for the past 4 years. Decreases in transit ridership are occurring at a time when the U.S. population and its economy are both growing, and the majority of this growth is occurring in major cities and metropolitan areas. While in the past these growth trends have been associated with increases in transit ridership, recent declines in ridership are evident in both transit ridership per capita and per revenue hour of service. It is likely that  numerous factors, both external and internal to public transportation agencies, are working in combination and affecting different communities, and parts of communities, in different ways and to different degrees. Sorting this out will be a complex challenge.

The objectives of this research are to (1) help public transportation agencies better understand changes in ridership under specific operating circumstances, (2) identify and compare strategies to increase ridership or mitigate declines in specific service areas or corridors,  and (3) develop clear guidance on how public transportation agencies can apply these research findings. 

Research is completed
.  The final deliverables, which include a TCRP Report 231 and a Web-only Document 74, were released in February 2022.  They can be accessed here.  

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