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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership: Analysis, Causes, and Responses. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26320.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership: Analysis, Causes, and Responses. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26320.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership: Analysis, Causes, and Responses. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26320.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership: Analysis, Causes, and Responses. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26320.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership: Analysis, Causes, and Responses. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26320.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership: Analysis, Causes, and Responses. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26320.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership: Analysis, Causes, and Responses. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26320.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership: Analysis, Causes, and Responses. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26320.
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© 2021 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. NATIONAL COOPERATIVE HIGHWAY RESEARCH PROGRAM Systematic, well-designed, and implementable research is the most effective way to solve many problems facing state departments of transportation (DOTs) administrators and engineers. Often, highway problems are of local or regional interest and can best be studied by state DOTs individually or in cooperation with their state universities and others. However, the accelerating growth of highway transportation results in increasingly complex problems of wide interest to highway authorities. These problems are best studied through a coordinated program of cooperative research. Recognizing this need, the leadership of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in 1962 initiated an objective national highway research program using modern scientific techniques— the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). NCHRP is supported on a continuing basis by funds from participating member states of AASHTO and receives the full cooperation and support of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), United States Department of Transportation, under Agreement No. 693JJ31950003. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein. Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply endorsement by TRB and any of its program sponsors of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP. DISCLAIMER To facilitate more timely dissemination of research findings, this pre-publication document is taken directly from the submission of the research agency. The material has not been edited by TRB. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this document are those of the researchers who performed the research. They are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; the FHWA; or the program sponsors. The Transportation Research Board, the National Academies, and the sponsors of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturers’ names appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the report. This pre-publication document IS NOT an official publication of the Cooperative Research Programs; the Transportation Research Board; or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Recommended citation: Watkins, K., S. Berrebi, G. Erhardt, J. Hoque, V. Goyal, C. Brakewood, A. Ziedan, W. Darling, B. Hemily, and J. Kressner. 2021. Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership: Analysis, Causes, and Responses. Pre-publication draft of TCRP Research Report 231. Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C.

i Table of Contents Table of Contents ............................................................................................................................. i List of Figures ................................................................................................................................ iv List of Tables ................................................................................................................................ vii Summary ...................................................................................................................................... S-1 Pre-Pandemic Transit Ridership .............................................................................................. S-1 Explaining Transit Ridership Declines .................................................................................... S-1 Transit Agency Strategies and Ridership Factors .................................................................... S-3 Future Transit Ridership Impacts............................................................................................. S-5 Chapter 1 Introduction ............................................................................................................ 1-1 1.1 Research Approach ....................................................................................................... 1-2 1.2 Report Contents ............................................................................................................. 1-2 Chapter 2 Possible Causes of Ridership Decline Identified in the Literature ........................ 2-1 2.1 Internal Traditional Factors ........................................................................................... 2-2 2.2 Internal Emerging Factors ............................................................................................. 2-3 2.3 External Traditional Factors .......................................................................................... 2-4 2.4 External Emerging Factors ............................................................................................ 2-6 2.5 Conclusion ..................................................................................................................... 2-9 Chapter 3 Multi-City Evaluation ............................................................................................ 3-1 3.1 Transit Ridership Trends by Group ............................................................................... 3-1 3.2 Sensitivity of Transit Ridership to Different Factors .................................................... 3-3 3.3 The Contribution of Each Factor to Changes in Transit Ridership ............................... 3-7 3.4 Conclusions ................................................................................................................. 3-19 Chapter 4 Bus Ridership and Frequency Trends by Time of Day in Four Cities................... 4-1 4.1 Bus Ridership Trends .................................................................................................... 4-1 4.2 Comparing Bus Ridership and Productivity by Time Period ........................................ 4-6 4.3 Bus Ridership Elasticity to Frequency .......................................................................... 4-9 4.4 Modeling Elasticity for Bus Services .......................................................................... 4-10 4.5 Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 4-13 Chapter 5 Examining the Peaking Phenomenon in Bay Area Rapid Transit Ridership ......... 5-1 5.1 Ridership Trends ........................................................................................................... 5-2

ii 5.2 Single Tracking ............................................................................................................. 5-8 5.3 Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 5-12 Chapter 6 Competition and Complementarity Between Transit Modes in the Twin Cities ... 6-1 6.1 Metro Green Line .......................................................................................................... 6-3 6.2 Metro A Line ................................................................................................................. 6-8 6.3 Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 6-11 Chapter 7 The Impact of Shared E-scooters on Bus Ridership in Louisville, KY ................. 7-1 7.1 Objective of Shared E-scooters Analysis ...................................................................... 7-1 7.2 Why Louisville as a Case Study? .................................................................................. 7-2 7.3 Data Sources .................................................................................................................. 7-2 7.4 Assigning Shared E-scooter Trips to Transit Routes .................................................... 7-3 7.5 Results of Shared E-scooters Analysis .......................................................................... 7-6 7.6 Conclusions, Discussion, and Implications of Shared E-scooters Analysis ................. 7-8 Chapter 8 The Impact of Fare Free promotions on Bus Ridership in Topeka, Kansas .......... 8-1 8.1 Objective of the Fare Free Promotions Analysis .......................................................... 8-1 8.2 Fare Free Promotions in Topeka, KS ............................................................................ 8-1 8.3 Data Sources .................................................................................................................. 8-4 8.4 Results ........................................................................................................................... 8-5 8.5 Conclusions, Discussion, and Implications of the Free Fare Promotions Analysis ...... 8-7 Chapter 9 The Impact of Converting Bus Routes to Bus Rapid Transit on Ridership in Cleveland, OH.......................................................................................................................... 9-1 9.1 Objective of Bus Rapid Transit Analysis ...................................................................... 9-1 9.2 Bus Rapid Transit Routes in Cleveland ........................................................................ 9-1 9.3 Data Sources .................................................................................................................. 9-3 9.4 Ridership Trends ........................................................................................................... 9-4 9.5 Results of the Bus Rapid Transit Analysis .................................................................... 9-6 9.6 Conclusions, Discussion, and Implications of the Bus Rapid Transit Analysis ........... 9-8 Chapter 10 Future Strategy Evaluation .................................................................................. 10-1 10.1 Overview of MATSim ............................................................................................. 10-1 10.2 Input Data ................................................................................................................ 10-3 10.3 Identified Cities ....................................................................................................... 10-3

iii 10.4 Development of Scenarios ....................................................................................... 10-4 10.5 Atlanta, Georgia....................................................................................................... 10-5 10.6 Oshkosh, Wisconsin .............................................................................................. 10-10 10.7 Discussion .............................................................................................................. 10-15 Chapter 11 Strategies, Implementation Resources, Key Lessons Learned ............................ 11-1 11.1 Findings from the Research ..................................................................................... 11-1 11.2 Implementation Considerations and Resources ....................................................... 11-4 11.3 Rethink Mission, Service Standards, Metrics and Service Delivery ....................... 11-5 11.4 Redesign Fare Policy ............................................................................................... 11-8 11.5 Give Transit Priority .............................................................................................. 11-10 11.6 Consider Carefully Partnerships with Shared-Use Mobility Providers ................. 11-17 11.7 Encourage Transit-Oriented Density ..................................................................... 11-20 11.8 Future Transit Ridership Impacts .......................................................................... 11-23 Chapter 12 Acronyms and Abbreviations .............................................................................. 12-1 Chapter 13 References ............................................................................................................ 13-1

iv List of Figures Figure 1-1: United States Transit Ridership 1990 - 2018 ............................................................ 1-1 Figure 1-2: Flow of Tasks in Phase I and Phase II of Research .................................................. 1-2 Figure 3-1: Percent Change in Bus Ridership from 2012 ............................................................ 3-2 Figure 3-2: Percent Change in Rail Ridership from 2012 ........................................................... 3-3 Figure 3-3: Contributions to Bus Ridership Change for High Operating Expense Group ........ 3-12 Figure 3-4: Contributions to Bus Ridership Change for Mid Operating Expense Group ......... 3-13 Figure 3-5: Contributions to Bus Ridership Change for Low Operating Expense Group ......... 3-14 Figure 3-6: Contributions to Rail Ridership Change for High Operating Expense Group ........ 3-17 Figure 3-7: Contributions to Rail Ridership Change for Mid Operating Expense Group ......... 3-18 Figure 4-1: Relative Change in Bus Ridership by Time-Period in Four Cities ........................... 4-3 Figure 4-2: Relative Change in Total Vehicle-Trips by Time Period in Four Cities .................. 4-4 Figure 4-3: Productivity in Passenger Boardings and Alightings by Time-Period ..................... 4-8 Figure 4-4: Map Illustrating Route-segment Buffers ................................................................. 4-11 Figure 5-1: Map of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (Source: BART) .................................. 5-2 Figure 5-2: Six-month Rolling Average of BART Vehicle Revenue Miles and Unlinked Passenger Trips ............................................................................................................................ 5-3 Figure 5-3: BART Ridership by Time-of-day on Weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays by Year . 5-8 Figure 5-4: BART Service Frequency by Time-of-day for Each Line ...................................... 5-10 Figure 5-5: BART Single Tracking Days in 2019 ..................................................................... 5-12 Figure 6-1: Unlinked Passenger Trips (millions) by Mode Since the 1920s (Data: APTA) ....... 6-1 Figure 6-2:Vehicle Revenue Miles by Mode Since the 1920s (Data: APTA) ............................. 6-2 Figure 6-3: Street View of Green Line at 5th St. and Hennepin Ave (Source: Google). ............. 6-3 Figure 6-4: Map of Green Line (Source: Metro Transit) ............................................................. 6-4

v Figure 6-5: Map of Bus Routes Adjacent to Green Line (Source: Metro Transit) ...................... 6-4 Figure 6-6: Average directional weekday vehicle-trips on Green Line corridor ......................... 6-6 Figure 6-7: Average Weekday Passenger Boardings on Green Line Corridor ............................ 6-6 Figure 6-8: Comparison of Station-level Green Line Ridership with Route-level Ridership of Connecting Lines ......................................................................................................................... 6-7 Figure 6-9: Map of A Line (Source: Metro Transit) .................................................................... 6-8 Figure 6-10: Street View of A Line at Snelling Ave. and North Highland Pkwy. (Source: Google) ........................................................................................................................................ 6-9 Figure 6-11: Average Directional Weekday Vehicle-trips on A Line Corridor ........................ 6-10 Figure 6-12: Average Weekday Passenger Boardings on A Line Corridor ............................... 6-10 Figure 6-13: Comparison of Station-level A Line Ridership with Route-level Ridership of Connecting Lines ....................................................................................................................... 6-11 Figure 7-1: Shared E-Scooter ....................................................................................................... 7-1 Figure 7-2: Shared E-scooter Trips Assignment to Bus Routes .................................................. 7-3 Figure 7-3: Example of shared e-scooter trip assignment to a local bus route ............................ 7-4 Figure 7-4: Shared E-Scooter First-Mile Connector Trip Count ................................................. 7-5 Figure 7-5: Shared E-Scooters Last-Mile Connector Trip Count ................................................ 7-5 Figure 7-6: Example of shared e-scooter trip assignment to an express bus route ...................... 7-6 Figure 8-1: Veterans Ride Free Promotion .................................................................................. 8-1 Figure 8-2: Long Term Topeka Metro Fare Promotions ............................................................. 8-2 Figure 8-3: Short Term Topeka Metro Fare Promotions ............................................................. 8-3 Figure 9-1: The City of Cleveland BRT Routes Launch Dates ................................................... 9-2 Figure 9-2: MetroHealth Line Bus ............................................................................................... 9-3 Figure 9-3: Annual Bus Ridership for BRT and Non-BRT Routes in Cleveland ....................... 9-4 Figure 9-4: Annual Bus Service Provision for BRT and Non-BRT Routes in Cleveland ........... 9-5

vi Figure 9-5:Fare Per Unlinked Passenger Trip (Data Source: National Transit Database) .......... 9-5 Figure 9-6: Gas Prices, Percent of Zero Vehicle Households, and Telecommuting in Cleveland 9- 6 Figure 10-1: Demand Side Components of CityCast Platform ................................................. 10-2 Figure 10-2: Supply Side Components of CityCast Platform .................................................... 10-2 Figure 10-3: Statistics about Case Study Cities, Atlanta and Oshkosh ..................................... 10-4 Figure 10-4: MARTA Transit System ....................................................................................... 10-5 Figure 10-5: Change in bus ridership by Census tract for low-income focus in Atlanta ........... 10-7 Figure 10-6: Change in bus ridership by Census tract for high-ridership focus in Atlanta ....... 10-8 Figure 10-7: Change in bus ridership by Census tract for high-ridership focus with exclusive bus lanes in Atlanta .......................................................................................................................... 10-9 Figure 10-8: Go Transit Routes ............................................................................................... 10-10 Figure 10-9: Change in bus ridership by Census block group for low-income focus in Oshkosh .................................................................................................................................................. 10-12 Figure 10-10: Change in bus ridership by Census block group for high-ridership focus in Oshkosh.................................................................................................................................... 10-13 Figure 10-11: Change in bus ridership by Census block group for high-ridership focus with exclusive bus lanes in Oshkosh................................................................................................ 10-14

vii List of Tables Table 1-1: Factors / Strategies and Cities for Case Studies ......................................................... 1-3 Table 2-1: Factors Affecting Transit Ridership ........................................................................... 2-1 Table 3-1: Contributions to Bus Ridership Change between 2012 and 2018 .............................. 3-9 Table 3-2: Contributions to Rail Ridership Change between 2012 and 2018 ........................... 3-15 Table 4-1: Results for Ridership Elasticity to Frequency by Time-period ................................ 4-12 Table 7-1: E-Scooter Analysis Data Sources ............................................................................... 7-2 Table 7-2: Impact of Shared E-Scooters on Unlinked Bus Trips Model Results ........................ 7-8 Table 8-1: Data Sources for Topeka Metro Fare Promotion Analysis ........................................ 8-4 Table 8-2: Fare Free Promotion Variables ................................................................................... 8-5 Table 8-3: Impacts of Fare Free Promotions on Bus Ridership Results ...................................... 8-6 Table 9-1: Data Sources for Cleveland Bus Rapid Transit Analysis ........................................... 9-4 Table 9-2: Impact of BRT on Unlinked Bus Trips Model Results .............................................. 9-7 Table 10-1: Change in Bus Ridership for Each Future Scenario ............................................. 10-15

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Rethinking mission and service delivery, rethinking fare policy, giving transit priority, careful partnering with shared-use mobility providers, and encouraging transit-oriented density are among the strategies transit agencies can employ to increase ridership and mitigate or stem declines in ridership that started years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's pre-publication draft of TCRP Research Report 231: Recent Decline in Public Transportation Ridership: Analysis, Causes, and Responses provides a deep-dive exploration of the ridership losses already being experienced by transit systems prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and explores strategies that appear to be key as we move to the new normal of a post-pandemic world.

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