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12 CHAPTER THREE RIDERSHIP and TRAVEL TIME DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS INTRODUCTION with ridership data, are used to monitor running times and schedule adherence. This is the first of two chapters presenting the results of a survey of transit agencies regarding passenger counting Manual collection of ridership data is time-intensive and technologies. The survey was designed to elicit information expensive, and typically would result in data for only a few on automated technologies. At the time of the last synthe- days. An atypical event (increased congestion owing to a sis, manual data collection was the most common means of traffic accident or unusual weather) could skew the data. gathering information on ridership. Over the past 10 years, Use of automatic passenger counter (APC) systems creates use of APC systems has become more common. Manual a much richer database, with multiple observations for each passenger counting was well documented in the previous trip. Issues regarding accuracy and analytical techniques are synthesis; therefore, this synthesis focuses on the state of discussed later. the practice for nonmanual passenger counting systems, particularly APCs. Table 3 summarizes survey responses regarding reasons for collecting data. The most common reason is compiling Forty-one completed surveys were received from the 56 ridership by route, followed by tracking systemwide rider- transit agencies approved by the panel for inclusion in the ship totals. A majority of all respondents also collect data on sample, a response rate of 73%. In addition, 45 agencies ridership for more specific microlevel uses at the route seg- responded to an invitation to all APTA members to partici- ment or stop level. National Transit Database (NTD) report- pate in the survey, for a total of 86 transit agencies. These ing was the most common response in the "other" category agencies range in size from fewer than 10 to more than 2,000 and is reported separately in Table 3. buses. The percentages in Table 3 do not add up to 100% because This chapter analyzes survey results related to the reasons multiple responses were acceptable. Any table in this report that transit agencies collect ridership and travel time data in which the sum of the percentages is greater than 100% and the means by which data are collected and analyzed. The reflects a survey question where multiple responses were introduction of new technologies such as APCs changes data allowed. processing and reporting requirements; these are analyzed in this chapter as well. Technological changes can also have TABLE 3 organizational impacts, and these are also explored. Purposes for Collection of Ridership and Travel Time Data Chapter four discusses survey results related to the responding agencies' assessment of APCs. Agencies Responding Purpose No. % WHY COLLECT RIDERSHIP and TRAVEL TIME DATA Compile ridership by route 83 96.5 Track systemwide ridership totals 76 88.4 There are many reasons to collect ridership data. At the sys- Compile boardings/alightings by stop 68 79.1 tem level, ridership is an important measure of success for a transit agency. Federal and state funding agencies require Monitor passenger loads at the maxi- 64 74.4 ridership reports. At the route level, ridership provides a mum load point general indication of the level of demand. More detailed Monitor schedule adherence and run- 56 65.1 ridership data are used by service planners and schedulers ning times to analyze performance and make changes to routes down Other 25 29.1 to the trip and stop level so that service provided matches demand. Time-related data, often collected in conjunction Total responding 86 100.0