What Really Matters for Increasing Transit RidershipPosted: January 2, 2013
By Eric Jaffe
Published: January 2, 2013
For years, many transportation experts thought the success of a city’s transit system depended directly on the strength of its central business district. Surveys supported this idea (one from 1988 showed that four in five “choice” riders worked downtown) and it’s still considered the traditional view. So as cities began to decentralize and transit ridership began to decline, it was only natural to see the former as the cause of the latter.
Today that traditional view is giving way to a more nuanced idea of how commuters use public transportation. Recently some metro areas have adopted multi-destination transit systems — traversing a number of job centers instead of only the central business district — and seen ridership increase. The fact that rail and bus systems can attract new riders in decentralized cities suggests that factors other than CBD strength may be critical to successful transit.