Transit Dependents, Choice Riders, and Service Criticality: An Analysis of the Determinants of Bus Ridership in the Philadelphia Region

This project will develop and test an empirically based theory of transit-dependency using a predictive model of transit mode choice in the Philadelphia region. We will also examine station-level shifts in transit use in response to the Covid-19 outbreak in the Philadelphia region and how these correspond with the distribution of transit dependents throughout the region. Transit dependents are sometimes crudely defined in opposition to choice riders who generally have access to a private car but choose transit, generally commuter rail or subway, instead of driving. However, lower-income riders who rely on buses to accomplish their day-to-day travel needs and are sometimes classified as transit dependents may be among the transit users who are closest to choosing between transit and an alternative mode, particularly private cars. Small increases in earnings or changes in transit service quality may therefore have the biggest influence for transit users who are sometimes viewed or described as captive. Understanding who is most likely to respond to shifts in service quality and where they live is an essential part of understanding how service improvements and deteriorations are likely to impact public transit ridership. Findings may also provide insight into factors that may have contributed to overall reductions in transit ridership over the past decade. Examining the neighborhood factors associated with higher or lower declines in ridership since the Covid-19 outbreak will provide additional insights into where transit service is most critical and how well service-criticality overlaps with areas where residents are most and least likely to respond to changes in service quality more generally. In addition to contributing to the general literature on the determinants of bus ridership and theories of transit dependency, the analysis may provide evidence on the types and locations of neighborhoods that are most likely to increase or decrease transit use in response to service changes from a planned bus network redesign.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $243500
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Carnegie Mellon University

    Mobility21 National USDOT UTC for Mobility of Goods and People
    Pittsburgh, PA  United States  15213

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Center Program
  • Managing Organizations:

    Carnegie Mellon University

    Mobility21 National USDOT UTC for Mobility of Goods and People
    Pittsburgh, PA  United States  15213
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Pennsylvania

  • Principal Investigators:

    Guerra, Erick

  • Start Date: 20200701
  • Expected Completion Date: 20230630
  • Actual Completion Date: 20230712
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01760142
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National University Transportation Center for Improving Mobility (Mobility21)
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747111
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Dec 16 2020 2:35PM