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TRANSIT TCRP SYNTHESIS 66 COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM Sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration Fixed-Route Transit Ridership Forecasting and Service Planning Methods A Synthesis of Transit Practice

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TCRP OVERSIGHT AND PROJECT TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD 2006 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE* SELECTION COMMITTEE* CHAIR OFFICERS DAVID A. LEE Connecticut Transit Chair: Michael D. Meyer, Professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta MEMBERS Vice Chair: Linda S. Watson, Executive Director, LYNX--Central Florida Regional Transportation ANN AUGUST Authority, Orlando Santee Wateree Regional Transportation Executive Director: Robert E. Skinner, Jr., Transportation Research Board Authority LINDA J. BOHLINGER MEMBERS HNTB Corp. ROBERT I. BROWNSTEIN MICHAEL W. BEHRENS, Executive Director, Texas DOT, Austin PB Consult, Inc. ALLEN D. BIEHLER, Secretary, Pennsylvania DOT, Harrisburg PETER CANNITO JOHN D. BOWE, Regional President, APL Americas, Oakland, CA Metropolitan Transportation Authority--Metro North Railroad LARRY L. BROWN, SR., Executive Director, Mississippi DOT, Jackson GREGORY COOK DEBORAH H. BUTLER, Vice President, Customer Service, Norfolk Southern Corporation Ann Arbor Transportation Authority and Subsidiaries, Atlanta, GA NATHANIEL P. FORD ANNE P. CANBY, President, Surface Transportation Policy Project, Washington, DC San Francisco MUNI DOUGLAS G. DUNCAN, President and CEO, FedEx Freight, Memphis, TN RONALD L. FREELAND NICHOLAS J. GARBER, Henry L. Kinnier Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. of Virginia, Charlottesville FRED M. GILLIAM ANGELA GITTENS, Vice President, Airport Business Services, HNTB Corporation, Miami, FL Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority GENEVIEVE GIULIANO, Professor and Senior Associate Dean of Research and Technology, KIM R. GREEN GFI GENFARE School of Policy, Planning, and Development, and Director, METRANS National Center JILL A. HOUGH for Metropolitan Transportation Research, University of Southern California, Los Angeles North Dakota State University SUSAN HANSON, Landry University Professor of Geography, Graduate School of Geography, JOHN INGLISH Clark University, Worcester, MA Utah Transit Authority JAMES R. HERTWIG, President, CSX Intermodal, Jacksonville, FL JEANNE W. KRIEG GLORIA J. JEFF, General Manager, City of Los Angeles DOT, Los Angeles, CA Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority ADIB K. KANAFANI, Cahill Professor of Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley CELIA G. KUPERSMITH HAROLD E. LINNENKOHL, Commissioner, Georgia DOT, Atlanta Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District SUE McNEIL, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of CLARENCE W. MARSELLA Delaware, Newark Denver Regional Transportation District DEBRA L. MILLER, Secretary, Kansas DOT, Topeka FAYE L. M. MOORE MICHAEL R. MORRIS, Director of Transportation, North Central Texas Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Governments, Arlington Authority CAROL A. MURRAY, Commissioner, New Hampshire DOT, Concord MICHAEL H. MULHERN JOHN R. NJORD, Executive Director, Utah DOT, Salt Lake City Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority PETE K. RAHN, Director, Missouri DOT, Jefferson City Retirement Fund STEPHANIE L. PINSON SANDRA ROSENBLOOM, Professor of Planning, University of Arizona, Tucson Gilbert Tweed Associates, Inc. HENRY GERARD SCHWARTZ, JR., Senior Professor, Washington University, St. Louis, MO ROBERT H. PRINCE, JR. MICHAEL S. TOWNES, President and CEO, Hampton Roads Transit, Hampton, VA DMJM+Harris C. MICHAEL WALTON, Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering, University of JEFFREY M. ROSENBERG Texas, Austin Amalgamated Transit Union MICHAEL SCANLON EX OFFICIO MEMBERS San Mateo County Transit District BEVERLY SCOTT THAD ALLEN (Adm., U.S. Coast Guard), Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, Washington, DC Sacramento Regional Transit District THOMAS J. BARRETT (Vice Adm., U.S. Coast Guard, ret.), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials JAMES S. SIMPSON Safety Administrator, U.S.DOT FTA MARION C. BLAKEY, Federal Aviation Administrator, U.S.DOT FRANK TOBEY JOSEPH H. BOARDMAN, Federal Railroad Administrator, U.S.DOT First Transit JOHN BOBO, Deputy Administrator, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S.DOT KATHRYN D. WATERS Dallas Area Rapid Transit REBECCA M. BREWSTER, President and COO, American Transportation Research Institute, FRANK WILSON Smyrna, GA Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris GEORGE BUGLIARELLO, Chancellor, Polytechnic University of New York, Brooklyn, County and Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Engineering, Washington, DC J. RICHARD CAPKA, Federal Highway Administrator, U.S.DOT EX OFFICIO MEMBERS SEAN T. CONNAUGHTON, Maritime Administrator, U.S.DOT WILLIAM W. MILLAR APTA EDWARD R. HAMBERGER, President and CEO, Association of American Railroads, ROBERT E. SKINNER, JR. Washington, DC TRB JOHN H. HILL, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator, U.S.DOT JOHN C. HORSLEY JOHN C. HORSLEY, Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation AASHTO Officials, Washington, DC J. RICHARD CAPKA J. EDWARD JOHNSON, Director, Applied Science Directorate, National Aeronautics FHWA and Space Administration, John C. Stennis Space Center, MS TDC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR WILLIAM W. MILLAR, President, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC LOUIS SANDERS NICOLE R. NASON, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator, U.S.DOT APTA JEFFREY N. SHANE, Under Secretary for Policy, U.S.DOT JAMES S. SIMPSON, Federal Transit Administrator, U.S.DOT SECRETARY CARL A. STROCK (Maj. Gen., U.S. Army), Chief of Engineers and Commanding General, ROBERT J. REILLY TRB U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC *Membership as of September 2006. *Membership as of September 2006.

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TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM TCRP SYNTHESIS 66 Fixed-Route Transit Ridership Forecasting and Service Planning Methods A Synthesis of Transit Practice CONSULTANT DANIEL BOYLE Dan Boyle & Associates San Diego, California S UBJECT A REAS Public Transit Research Sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration in Cooperation with the Transit Development Corporation TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD WASHINGTON, D.C. 2006 www.TRB.org

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TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM TCRP SYNTHESIS 66 The nation's growth and the need to meet mobility, environ- Price $31.00 mental, and energy objectives place demands on public transit Project J-7, Topic SH-06 systems. Current systems, some of which are old and in need of ISSN 1073-4880 upgrading, must expand service area, increase service frequency, ISBN 0-309-09772-X and improve efficiency to serve these demands. Research is nec- Library of Congress Control Number 2006906643 essary to solve operating problems, to adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and to introduce innovations 2006 Transportation Research Board into the transit industry. The Transit Cooperative Research Pro- gram (TCRP) serves as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative near-term solutions to COPYRIGHT PERMISSION meet demands placed on it. Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for The need for TCRP was originally identified in TRB Special obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the Report 213--Research for Public Transit: New Directions, pub- copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein. lished in 1987 and based on a study sponsored by the Federal Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce Transit Administration (FTA). A report by the American Public material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Transportation Association (APTA), Transportation 2000, also Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be recognized the need for local, problem-solving research. TCRP, used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, FMCSA, FTA, or Transit modeled after the longstanding and successful National Coopera- Development Corporation endorsement of a particular product, method, or tive Highway Research Program, undertakes research and other practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment technical activities in response to the needs of transit service provid- of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the ers. The scope of TCRP includes a variety of transit research material, request permission from CRP. fields including planning, service configuration, equipment, fa- cilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and ad- ministrative practices. NOTICE TCRP was established under FTA sponsorship in July 1992. Proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, TCRP was The project that is the subject of this report was a part of the Transit Coop- authorized as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Effi- erative Research Program conducted by the Transportation Research Board ciency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). On May 13, 1992, a memorandum with the approval of the Governing Board of the National Research Coun- cil. Such approval reflects the Governing Board's judgment that the project agreement outlining TCRP operating procedures was executed by concerned is appropriate with respect to both the purposes and resources of the three cooperating organizations: FTA, the National Academy of the National Research Council. Sciences, acting through the Transportation Research Board The members of the technical advisory panel selected to monitor this (TRB); and the Transit Development Corporation, Inc. (TDC), a project and to review this report were chosen for recognized scholarly com- nonprofit educational and research organization established by petence and with due consideration for the balance of disciplines appropri- APTA. TDC is responsible for forming the independent govern- ate to the project. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied are ing board, designated as the TCRP Oversight and Project Selec- those of the research agency that performed the research, and while they tion (TOPS) Committee. have been accepted as appropriate by the technical panel, they are not nec- Research problem statements for TCRP are solicited periodi- essarily those of the Transportation Research Board, the Transit Develop- cally but may be submitted to TRB by anyone at any time. It is ment Corporation, the National Research Council, or the Federal Transit Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. the responsibility of the TOPS Committee to formulate the re- Each report is reviewed and accepted for publication by the technical search program by identifying the highest priority projects. As panel according to procedures established and monitored by the Trans- part of the evaluation, the TOPS Committee defines funding portation Research Board Executive Committee and the Governing Board levels and expected products. of the National Research Council. Once selected, each project is assigned to an expert panel, ap- pointed by TRB. The panels prepare project statements (requests for proposals), select contractors, and provide technical guidance The Transportation Research Board of The National Academies, the and counsel throughout the life of the project. The process for Transit Development Corporation, the National Research Council, and the developing research problem statements and selecting research Federal Transit Administration (sponsor of the Transit Cooperative agencies has been used by TRB in managing cooperative re- Research Program) do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or search programs since 1962. As in other TRB activities, TCRP manufacturers' names appear herein solely because they are considered project panels serve voluntarily without compensation. essential to the clarity and completeness of the project reporting. Because research cannot have the desired impact if products fail to reach the intended audience, special emphasis is placed on disseminating TCRP results to the intended end users of the re- Published reports of the search: transit agencies, service providers, and suppliers. TRB TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM provides a series of research reports, syntheses of transit practice, and other supporting material developed by TCRP research. are available from: APTA will arrange for workshops, training aids, field visits, and Transportation Research Board other activities to ensure that results are implemented by urban Business Office and rural transit industry practitioners. 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 The TCRP provides a forum where transit agencies can coop- eratively address common operational problems. The TCRP results and can be ordered through the Internet at http://www.national-academies.org/trb/bookstore support and complement other ongoing transit research and train- ing programs. Printed in the United States of America

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished schol- ars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and techni- cal matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Acad- emy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achieve- ments of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Acad- emy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. William A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. The Transportation Research Board is a division of the National Research Council, which serves the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The Board's mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation through research. In an objective and interdisciplinary setting, the Board facilitates the sharing of information on transportation practice and policy by researchers and practitioners; stimulates research and offers research management services that promote technical excellence; provides expert advice on transportation policy and programs; and disseminates research results broadly and encourages their implementation. The Board's varied activities annually engage more than 5,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. www.TRB.org www.national-academies.org

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TCRP COMMITTEE FOR PROJECT J-7 COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM STAFF ROBERT J. REILLY, Director, Cooperative Research Programs CHAIR CHRISTOPHER W. JENKS, Manager, TCRP FRANK T. MARTIN EILEEN P. DELANEY, Director of Publications PBS&J, Tallahassee, FL TCRP SYNTHESIS STAFF MEMBERS STEPHEN R. GODWIN, Director for Studies DEBRA W. ALEXANDER and Information Services Capital Area Transportation Authority, Lansing, MI JON WILLIAMS, Manager, Synthesis Studies DWIGHT FERRELL GAIL STABA, Senior Program Officer Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, TX DONNA L. VLASAK, Senior Program Officer MARK W. FURHMANN DON TIPPMAN, Editor Metro Transit, Minneapolis, MN CHERYL KEITH, Senior Secretary ROBERT H. IRWIN Consultant, Calgary, AB, Canada TOPIC PANEL DONNA KELSAY JAMES BARRY, New York City Transit Authority San Joaquin Regional Transit District, Stockton, CA KURT BROTCKE, Orange County (CA) Transportation Authority PAUL J. LARROUSSE KIMBERLY FISHER, Transportation Research Board National Transit Institute, New Brunswick, NJ RUDOLPH KOLAJA, Transportation Consultant Engineers, LLC WADE LAWSON RAM M. PENDYALA, University of South Florida South Jersey Transportation Authority, Atlantic City, NJ RAYMOND M. QUIROZ, VIA Metropolitan Transit DAVID A. LEE IKE UBAKA, Florida Department of Transportation Connecticut Transit, Hartford, CT PAM WARD, Ottumwa Transit Authority DAVID PHELPS ERIC PIHL, Federal Highway Administration (Liaison) Consultant, Moneta, VA HAYWARD M. SEYMORE, III Q Straint, University Place, WA PAM WARD Ottumwa Transit Authority, Ottumwa, IA JOEL R. WASHINGTON Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Washington, DC FTA LIAISON KAREN FACEN Federal Highway Administration TRB LIAISON PETER SHAW Transportation Research Board

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FOREWORD Transit administrators, engineers, and researchers often face problems for which in- By Staff formation already exists, either in documented form or as undocumented experience and Transportation practice. This information may be fragmented, scattered, and unevaluated. As a conse- Research Board quence, full knowledge of what has been learned about a problem may not be brought to bear on its solution. Costly research findings may go unused, valuable experience may be overlooked, and due consideration may not be given to recommended practices for solv- ing or alleviating the problem. There is information on nearly every subject of concern to the transit industry. Much of it derives from research or from the work of practitioners faced with problems in their day-to-day work. To provide a systematic means for assembling and evaluating such use- ful information and to make it available to the entire transit community, the Transit Co- operative Research Program Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee author- ized the Transportation Research Board to undertake a continuing study. This study, TCRP Project J-7, "Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Problems," searches out and synthesizes useful knowledge from all available sources and prepares concise, documented reports on specific topics. Reports from this endeavor constitute a TCRP re- port series, Synthesis of Transit Practice. This synthesis series reports on current knowledge and practice, in a compact format, without the detailed directions usually found in handbooks or design manuals. Each re- port in the series provides a compendium of the best knowledge available on those meas- ures found to be the most successful in resolving specific problems. PREFACE This synthesis documents the state of the practice in fixed-route transit ridership fore- casting and service planning. It identifies forecasting methodologies, resource require- ments, data inputs, and organizational issues. It also analyzes the impacts of service changes and reviews transit agency assessments of the effectiveness and reliability of their methods and of desired improvements. This report will be of interest to transit planners and man- agers as they develop and refine forecasting methodologies for their own agencies. A survey was undertaken to acquire information on methodologies used in a variety of situations, satisfaction with these methods, and suggestions for improvements. Following a review of the survey results, case studies were developed that included transit agencies of various sizes and from different geographic regions, agencies with a variety of approaches and methods related to ridership forecasting, and agencies that could offer insight to the industry as a whole. Daniel Boyle, Dan Boyle and Associates, San Diego, California, collected and synthe- sized the information and wrote the report, under the guidance of a panel of experts in the subject area. The members of the topic panel are acknowledged on the preceding page. This synthesis is an immediately useful document that records the practices that were acceptable within the limitations of the knowledge available at the time of its preparation. As progress in research and practice continues, new knowledge will be added to that now at hand.

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CONTENTS 1 SUMMARY 3 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Background, 3 Methodology, 3 Organization of Report, 3 5 CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction, 5 Older Studies, 5 More Recent Studies, 5 Rail-Oriented Studies, 6 Route-Level Studies, 6 Metropolitan Planning Organization Studies, 6 Current Studies, 7 Summary, 7 8 CHAPTER THREE RIDERSHIP FORECASTING METHODOLOGIES Introduction, 8 Typology: Time, Geographic Scope, and Extent of Change, 8 Data Inputs, 8 Analytical Techniques, 9 Organizational Issues, 11 Ridership Forecasting Under a Variety of Scenarios, 11 Summary, 15 16 CHAPTER FOUR AGENCY ASSESSMENT OF FORECASTING METHODS Introduction, 16 Data Availability and Reliability, 16 Measuring Reliability and Value of Forecasting Methodology, 16 Impacts of Technology on Forecasting Methodology, 16 Satisfaction with Ridership Forecasting, 17 Lessons Learned, 18 Summary, 19 20 CHAPTER FIVE CASE STUDIES Introduction, 20 VIA Metropolitan Transit (San Antonio, Texas), 20 Regional Transportation District (Denver, Colorado), 21 Greater Richmond Transit Company (Richmond, Virginia), 23 MTANew York City Transit (New York, New York), 24 Orange County Transportation Authority (Orange, California), 26 TriMet (Portland, Oregon), 27

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30 CHAPTER SIX CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY Introduction, 30 Data, 30 Methodology, 30 Organizational Issues, 31 Reliability and Accuracy, 31 Lessons Learned and Case Study Results, 31 Conclusions and Further Research Needs, 32 33 REFERENCES 35 APPENDIX A SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE 39 APPENDIX B SUMMARY OF SURVEY RESULTS 50 APPENDIX C PARTICIPATING TRANSIT AGENCIES