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Suggested Citation:"Bibliography." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Analysis of Recent Public Transit Ridership Trends. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25635.
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Suggested Citation:"Bibliography." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Analysis of Recent Public Transit Ridership Trends. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25635.
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Suggested Citation:"Bibliography." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Analysis of Recent Public Transit Ridership Trends. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25635.
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Suggested Citation:"Bibliography." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Analysis of Recent Public Transit Ridership Trends. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25635.
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Suggested Citation:"Bibliography." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Analysis of Recent Public Transit Ridership Trends. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25635.
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69 renovations, modernizing fare collection systems, and upgrading services across all modes. Current and future projects include the following:  The Better Bus Project will improve MBTA bus service by reinventing the bus network to reflect changing demographics, and replacing the fare collection system. Improvements will be completed with a continuous change focus which includes the implementation of pilot projects and the continuing practice of making regular, quarterly updates to scheduled service to better align schedules with rider demand. After the 2018 analysis period, the program has proposed consolidating duplicate routes, improving the space available at bus stops, and eliminating obsolete variants of some bus routes in 2019.  MBTA plans to replace subway fleets and upgrade tracks, signals, and switches. New subway cars will be added over the next five years to improve frequency of trains along the Orange and Red by 2022.  Green Line Extension (GLX) will extend the northern end of the Green Line light rail system by 2021 with seven new T stations.

70 Case Study 7 – Metro Transit, Minneapolis, MN Background Metro Transit operates bus, light rail, and commuter rail services in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. As the largest transit operator in Minnesota, the transit agency provides over 250,000 daily riders and operates 127 fixed bus routes, two light rail lines, two bus rapid transit lines, and one commuter rail line. Metro Transit recently opened a bus rapid transit (BRT) line, the Red Line, in 2013, a light rail line, the Green Line, in 2014 and a rapid bus line, the A Line, in 2016. Looking towards the future, Metro transit will continue to constructing a number of rapid bus projects to improve mobility. Founded in 1967, Metro Transit originally provided bus service to the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. The growing Twin Cities region began studying light rail in 1972, but a line would not be implemented until 2004 with the opening of the Metro Blue Line. In 2009, a commuter rail line opened to the north suburbs. A BRT service began in 2013, and 2014 saw the opening of Metro’s current busiest light rail line, the Metro Green Line. In preparation for the opening of the Metro Green Line in June 2014, surrounding bus routes were routed and timed to facilitate bus and rail transfers. The process took around two years to plan and implement. In addition, a new rapid bus service with transit signal priority and near level boarding, the A Line, was planned and opened in 2016 with a direct connection to the Green Line. Key Performance Trends Key performance trends for fixed route bus, light rail, and commuter rail service are shown in Figure 43, Figure 44, and Figure 45 which display a 12-month rolling average normalized to January 2012 of the unlinked passenger trips (UPT), vehicle revenue miles (VRM), average speed, and on-time performance (OTP). Since, Metro indicates OTP only in annual reports, OTP numbers represent an entire year of service. As seen in Figure 43, fixed route bus service riders has decreased despite the addition of the rapid A Line. Bus service has risen system-wide, average speed has been relatively constant, and on time performance has decreased. Light rail service has increased dramatically between 2012 and 2018. Figure 44 has a different scale than the others to show large passenger increases after the Green Line opening. Light rail average speed and OTP have remained generally constant, though the Green Line opening has brought both down for rail service slightly. Light rail service increases were followed closely by ridership increases as seen in Figure 44. After the opening of a new commuter rail station in 2012, commuter rail service has stayed relatively constant over the past five years as seen in Figure 45. Ridership trends associated with the recent fare increase in November 2018 have not been examined.

71 Figure 43: Metro Transit Bus Systemwide Trends from 2012 to 2018  Figure 44: Metro Transit Light Rail Systemwide Trends from 2012 to 2018  Figure 45: Metro Transit Commuter Rail Systemwide Trends from 2012 to 2018 

72 Interviews with planners at Metro Transit provided additional insight into some strategies being undertaken to combat ridership decline. As seen in Figure 43 and Figure 44, bus ridership decreases correspond to rail ridership increases, as corridors previously served by buses were phased out and replaced with rail service. Metro Transit also observed bus ridership continued to drop after rail service was established and stable. In June 2016, the introduction of a new rapid bus line immediately boosted corridor ridership by 30% simply by speeding up bus. Fixed route bus ridership data for Figure 46 is from adjusted average weekday automated passenger counter (APC) data averaged monthly over the 2012 and 2015 fall period (Sept to Nov). Frequency data is provided from the transit agency. Express bus service routes are not displayed in Figure 46. Service frequencies have generally increased between 2015 and 2012 but ridership trends have not increased on every route. Figure 46: Metro Bus Frequency and Ridership Trends in 2012 and 2017  Future Plans to Encourage Ridership Metro Transit continues to invest in transit projects and technology to encourage ridership. In early 2019, Metro Transit implemented NexTrip real-time bus departure information. Construction of two BRT projects, the C Line and METRO Orange Line, are currently underway and four additional BRT lines are in the planning process.

73 Case Study 8 – Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston, TX Background The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (known as METRO) runs bus, commuter bus, and light rail service in the Houston metropolitan area. METRO is the Houston region’s largest public transit provider operating 83 local bus routes, 31 commuter bus routes, 3 light rail lines, and 1 community connector to almost 85 million passenger trips per year. METRO has an expansive fixed transit bus system and the most transit ridership in Texas. After a large bus system redesign and addition of two light rail lines in 2015, overall transit system ridership grown about 0.8 percent from 2016 to 2017. Houston METRO was founded in 1979 with a one-cent sales tax to replace a smaller system, HouTran. The transit agency expanded fixed route bus service with park and ride, and high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, to become one of the largest all-bus fleet in the United States in the 1990s. The transit agency’s first light rail line opened in 2004, ending a 14-year period during which Houston was the largest city in the country without a rail system. The most recent rail extension occurred in 2015 although METRO remains primarily a bus system. In August 2015, METRO redesigned its bus network, increasing the number of high- frequency bus routes, while reducing lower-frequency routes. The system was redesigned for the first time since the 1980s. Houston’s sprawling nature made downtown-oriented routes only useful for some trips while high-frequency gridded routes allow for faster travel, even if it requires a transfer. The transit agency’s goal was to simplify bus routes and improve access to frequent service, while still maintaining coverage service in low density areas. As part of the redesign, METRO set a goal for METRO’s system network of 80% high frequency routes and 20% coverage routes. The plan included upgrading bus stop signage and route maps with clearer information and adding trip planning apps and text-in next bus information. “Q Mobile Ticketing”, a smartphone app with the ability to purchase, store, and validate transit passes, was also introduced in August 2015. During the entire launch event, the call center doubled in size and buses with free fares roamed to pick up unknowing would-be passengers. A key aspect of the redesign was increased weekend service, with nearly all routes running the same baseline service all seven days. Reliability was a heavy motivator behind the redesign but no study has been completed on on-time performance since the implementation. Key Performance Trends Key performance trends of Houston METRO bus and light rail from 2012 to 2018 are shown in Figure 47 and Figure 48, which display a 12-month rolling average normalized to January 2012 of the unlinked passenger trips (UPT), vehicle revenue miles (VRM), on-time performance (OTP), and average speed. Houston METRO fixed route bus ridership has remained unchanged since a system-wide overnight redesign, the opening of which is indicated on Figure 47. Steady increases

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Transit ridership is down across all modes except commuter rail and demand response. Bus ridership is down the most in mid-size cities (populations of 200,000 – 500,000), and, after six years of consecutive decline, it is at its lowest point overall since the 1970s.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Research Report 209: Analysis of Recent Public Transit Ridership Trends presents a current snapshot of public transit ridership trends in the U.S. on bus and rail services in urban and suburban areas, focusing on what has changed in the past several years. It also explores and presents strategies that transit agencies are considering and using for all transit modes in response to changes in ridership.

Ten case studies are included to better understand individual strategies transit agencies are using to mitigate ridership losses and increase ridership overall. Seven of the 10 transit agencies investigated in the case studies followed the trend, with ridership increases between 2012 and 2015 followed by steady decreases in ridership. Generally, on-time performance has been improving, although it is not causing transit ridership to increase.

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