Understanding Transit User Experience and Expectations in Under-served Communities

Wait times for transit have been shown by researchers, and in practice, to be onerous for riders. Though transit agencies invest in capital improvements such as bus stop amenities, the consensus view is that such capital investments do little to improve how people experience wait time at bus stops. Different cohorts of the population – such as women, older adults, children who travel independently on transit, people with disabilities, and people of color – may experience the same bus stop differently based on when they are waiting for a bus. This temporal aspect may be related to the time of day (e.g., late morning versus late evening), might be seasonal (e.g., summer versus winter), or linked to days with extreme weather (e.g., >80 F or below <40 F). We ask: which capital improvements have the biggest return on investment at bus stops that might reduce the negative experience of waiting for transit? Methodologically, by relying on video/phone-based interviews with transit experts across the United States, we are interested in learning agency-side responses to effective investments at bus stops, including constraints that agencies face. We will also conduct a series of focus groups and/or interviews with bus riders, particularly those in low-income and under-served communities, to hear transit experiences and learn about the specific needs of riders. This work will be conducted in the Denver region in coordination with the Regional Transportation District. Based on this body of evidence, we will design and implement a national-wide survey, built on a choice-experiment framework, that will test tradeoffs between operational improvements (e.g., increasing frequency), various types of bus top investments (e.g., shelters, benches, ADA-compliant ramps, real time information, lighting, safety call buttons, cameras, among others), and other programmatic investments (e.g., fare-free transit). We will vary the weather attributes in the choice set to seek better insights from riders who experience daily and seasonal variations differently than automobile travelers. This approach will control respondents’ preference ordering as well as internal contradictory among preferences. By asking respondents to evaluate trade-offs, the results will better speak to preferences as well as facilitate a weighted economic benefit analysis where we can score preferences based on dollars spent. By trying to decipher how various investments impact the value of wait time, we will create a generalizable set of findings that can apply across various situations and contexts.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Funding: $150,000 (USDOT) + $75,000 (matching)


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $225000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Center for Equitable Transit-Oriented Communities (CETOC)

    University of New Orleans
    New Orleans, LA  United States 
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

    Tian, Guang

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Colorado, Denver

    Denver, CO  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Shirgaokar, Manish

    Misra, Aditi

    Marshall, Wesley

  • Start Date: 20231001
  • Expected Completion Date: 20241031
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01900213
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Center for Equitable Transit-Oriented Communities (CETOC)
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3552348337
  • Files: RIP
  • Created Date: Nov 20 2023 4:41PM