Development of Guidelines for Collecting Transit Ridership Data

The main objective of this research project is to develop guidelines for assisting Virginia transit agencies in collecting ridership data. In particular, the study will focus on data collection practices associated with agencies operating fixed route buses, demand-response services, bus rapid transit, as well as vanpools in a limited way/as feasible. Specifically, the research project will start with the review of current practices adopted by other U.S. transit agencies. This is followed by designing and conducting a customized on-line and/or off-line survey among transit agencies in Virginia to understand and learn of local practices. Based on the survey findings and the evaluation of different transit ridership data collection approaches, this research project will develop a set of guidelines on ridership data collection methods, sampling guidance,and data processing and reporting. Some best practices among the agencies will be documented. In addition, templates for ridership estimation with sample data sourced from different data collection methods will also be developed. The results will be provided to the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) as references for guiding transit agencies in collecting ridership data and the subsequent evaluation of transit agencies’ grant applications. The outcomes of this project will allow DRPT to have an improved understanding of practices among transit agencies, help guide the practices, and monitor the quality of reported ridership data. Transit agencies will also have opportunities to learn best practices in ridership data collection from each other.