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

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.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $400000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project A-43

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Schwager, Dianne

  • Performing Organizations:

    Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta

    790 Atlantic Drive
    Atlanta, GA  United States  30332-0355
  • Principal Investigators:

    Watkins, Kari

  • Start Date: 20190117
  • Expected Completion Date: 20210520
  • Actual Completion Date: 20210520

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01667912
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project A-43
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 1 2018 10:44AM