Public Transit Encouragement


TDM Encyclopedia

Victoria Transport Policy Institute


Updated 29 September 2015

This chapter describes various ways to encourage public transit ridership by improving service, reducing fares, increasing user convenience and information, providing incentives, and supporting marketing programs.




Public Transit Encouragement includes various strategies that give discretionary travelers (those who have the option of driving) reasons to choose transit. These include:


·         Improve Transit Service, including more service, faster service and more comfortable service.


·         Improved Stops and Stations, including shelter (enclosed waiting areas, with heating in winter and cooling in summer), seating, transit user information and wayfinding guidance, washrooms, refreshments, Internet services, and other convenience and comfort features.


·         Transit-Oriented Development, so a maximum amount of mixed development occurs within convenient walking distance of transit stations and stops.


·         Reduce fares and offer discounts (such as lower rates for off-peak travel times, or for certain groups).


·         More convenient fare structures and Payment Systems using electronic “smart cards.”


·         Commute Trip Reduction programs, Commuter Financial Incentives, and other TDM Programs that encourage use of alternative transportation modes.


·         Amenities, such as on-board refreshments services and wireless Internet access.


·         Improve rider information and Marketing programs (Arpi 2009).


·         Park & Ride facilities, including Bike Parking.


·         Improve walkability around transit stops and stations (Ryan and Frank 2009).


·         Create a Multi-Modal Access Guide, which includes maps, schedules, contact numbers, and other information on how to reach a particular destination by public transit.


·         More integrated transport policies and planning, including more integrated services, fares and ticketing, user information, infrastructure provision and management, institutions (transport and public transit agencies), transport and land use planning, and other public policies such as road, parking and fuel pricing (Preston 2012).


·         Parking and Road pricing can provide financial incentives for transit use (Auchincloss, et al; Hardy 2009).



Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a term used for a set of transit service improvements that include grade-separated right-of-way and other Transit Priority measures, comfortable stations, high-quality vehicles (high capacity, easy to board, quiet, clean and comfortable to ride), frequent service, convenient user information, efficient pre-paid fare collection, and efficient operations.


It is important to consider all significant options and impacts when Evaluating Public Transit improvements. Levinger and McGehee (2008) recommend that planners optimize the following factors to improve transit services and attract new riders:


  1. Ease. Is the system or product easy to use? What difficulties do new users face when trying the product for the first time? Are there different challenges for experienced users? Transit example: Are your timetables legible and easily decipherable? How do people who have never seen a schedule figure it out? Can passengers use the tools your agency provides to successfully design routes from A to B, and feel confident when transferring?


  1. Effectiveness. How well does the system help users complete a task? Does the product serve as a valued tool that serves its purpose well? Transit example: Do routes operate on time and on predictable schedules? Can passengers make their desired trips in a reasonable amount of time? Do timetables, websites, and signs give customers confidence that they know when and where they will arrive?


  1. Comfort. Do users feel safe, secure, and relaxed when using a product? Does any physical pain or awkwardness occur at any point during its use? Transit example: Do bus stops feel safe and secure for all passengers, and at different times of day? How do passengers of different heights and physical strength feel when sitting on your vehicles’ seats? Is getting off or boarding difficult or embarrassing for any customer?


  1. Aesthetics. Simply, does the product appeal to users? Is it visually and tactilely appealing? How does using the system affect all five senses? Transit examples: Are vehicles clean, outside and inside? Do the vehicles’ temperature, fabrics, and hand-holds feel good? Are there any unpleasant smells, glaring lights, or blaring audio systems?



How it is Implemented

Transit Encouragement programs are usually implemented by transit agencies, often with support from other government agencies and businesses. It is usually best to begin with a survey of potential users to determine what improvements and marketing strategies could increase their ridership, and developing a transit development plan. For example, one transportation user survey (TransLink 2003) found that discretionary transit riders (those that have the option of traveling by automobile):

·         Believe that transit travel can be less stressful than driving a car;

·         Believe that transit travel is more convenient than driving for some trips

·         Believe that transit travel saves wear-and-tear on their car.

·         Want transit service within convenient walking distance of their homes and destinations.

·         Want clean transit vehicles and safe waiting areas.

·         Want reliable, on-time service with good connections.

·         Want fast, direct service.


TranSystems (2005) and Stanley and Hyman (2005) identify various strategies that tend to increase transit ridership in an area, including improved service, reduced fares, Marketing, and more integrated planning and partnerships with other organizations. A study comparing various European regions and cities identified the following transport policies that tend to increase public transit ridership (Colin Buchanan and Partners 2003):

·         Availability of adequate capital funding for public transport.

·         Relatively low public transport fares.

·         Integration of public transport services (timed connections, new journey opportunities etc).

·         Integration of regional, multimodal ticketing systems.

·         Restraint of parking and reallocation of road space to more sustainable modes.

·         Long-term planning and implementation of these policies. To be effective, these polices must be in place for a long time (a decade or more), which implies consistent political consensus on their efficacy.

·         Adequate regulation of bus transit systems; the most successful systems are run on a franchised (quality contract-type) basis.



Travel Impacts

Transit Encouragement can significantly increase transit ridership. See Transit Evaluation Kittleson & Associates (2013), Turnbull and Pratt (2003), TRL (2004), TranSystems (2005), and Cervero (2006) for additional information on travel impacts.


Commute Trip Reduction programs, Parking Pricing and Commuter Financial Incentives encourage transit commuting (Peng, Dueker, and Strathman 1996). Commuter Financial Incentives, in which employers subsidize transit passes, can be effective at increasing ridership ( Deep Discount transit passes can encourage occasional riders to use transit more frequently (Oram and Stark 1996), and if implemented when fares are increasing, can avoid ridership losses. Targeted promotions that provide information on the service and incentives (e.g. discounts) typically increase transit ridership by 10%, and sometimes much more (Turnbull and Pratt 2003). Thompson, et al. (2012) and Walker (2012) describe how various route design and operational improvement can increase ridership.


Table 1 summarizes transit elasticity values that can be used to predict how various types of changes in price and service are likely to affect transit ridership and travel behavior.


Table 1            Transit Elasticity Values (Transportation Elasticities)


Market Segment

Short Term

Long Term

Transit ridership WRT transit fares


–0.2 to –0.5

–0.6 to –0.9

Transit ridership WRT transit fares


–0.15 to –0.3

–0.4 to –0.6

Transit ridership WRT transit fares


–0.3 to –0.6

–0.8 to –1.0

Transit ridership WRT transit fares

Suburban Commuters

–0.3 to –0.6

–0.8 to –1.0

Transit ridership WRT transit service


0.50 to 0.7

0.7 to 1.1

Transit ridership WRT auto operating costs


0.05 to 0.15

0.2 to 0.4

Automobile travel WRT transit costs


0.03 to 0.1

0.15 to 0.3

This table summarizes estimates of transit elasticities. These values can be used to predict how price and service changes are likely to affect transit ridership and travel behavior.



Travel impacts of transit encouragement strategies can be evaluated by comparing the generalized costs (travel time and incremental expenses per trip) of transit and driving to calculate a transit competitiveness ratio (Casello 2007). The higher this ratio the relatively less attractive is transit compared with driving. This can be used as a rough indicator of how changes in access, waiting and travel time; transit fares; and automobile costs are likely to affect transit ridership. Note that travelers have diverse needs and preferences, and so some will choose transit even if the transit competitive ratio is relatively high, so models must be calibrated and adjusted to reflect specific conditions.


Campus Transport Management that include discounted transit passes and service improvements have tripled transit ridership in some college communities. Trip Reduction Tables indicate the reduction in commute trips that can be expected from various combinations of financial incentives for transit and ridesharing. The Land Use Impacts chapter provides additional information on the travel impacts of various land use changes. Transit improvements that better coordinate service to dispersed destinations outside of central business districts can increase overall transit ridership (Thompson and Matoff 2003).


More convenient fare payment systems can increase ridership. A smart card is a credit card sized “passive computer” that becomes operational when connected to a power source either directly (contacted) or through a radio frequency inductive field (contactless). Smart cards make transit use more convenient and allow transit agencies to offer new discounts, such as lower rates during off-peak periods, for special groups and for bulk ticket purchase.

Table 3          Travel Impact Summary

Travel Impact



Reduces total traffic.


Can reduce automobile use.

Reduces peak period traffic.


Tends to be attractive for commute trips.

Shifts peak to off-peak periods.


Off-peak fare discounts induce some shifts.

Shifts automobile travel to alternative modes.



Improves access, reduces the need for travel.


Can encourage higher-density, clustered land use.

Increased ridesharing.



Increased public transit.



Increased cycling.


Can support cycling.

Increased walking.


Supports pedestrian travel.

Increased Telework.



Reduced freight traffic.



Rating from 3 (very beneficial) to –3 (very harmful). A 0 indicates no impact or mixed impacts.



Benefits And Costs

Increased transit ridership can provide a variety of benefits, particularly if it substitutes for urban automobile travel. Benefits include reduced traffic congestion, consumer cost savings, parking cost savings, reduced traffic risk, energy conservation and emission reductions, and more efficient land use (reduced sprawl). In addition to direct benefits, transit can provide a variety of indirect benefits, including Increased Property Values near transit stations, and increased Economic Development, although these vary depending on circumstances. See Transit Evaluation for more information on these impacts.


Table 4          Benefit Summary




Congestion Reduction


Reduces automobile use on congested corridors.

Road & Parking Savings


Reduces road space and parking requirements. Buses may increase road wear costs.

Consumer Savings


Provides affordable mobility.

Transport Choice


Increases transport choice for non-drivers.

Road Safety


Tends to be safer than driving overall.

Environmental Protection


Tends to reduce air pollution.

Efficient Land Use


Tends to discourage sprawl.

Community Livability


Contributes to neighborhood livability.

Rating from 3 (very beneficial) to –3 (very harmful). A 0 indicates no impact or mixed impacts.



Equity Impacts

Transit service is an important strategy for improving Transportation Choice and providing Basic Mobility, particularly for non-drivers. The equity impacts of Transit Encouragement programs vary depending on the type of program and how it is evaluated. For example, increased transit subsidies can be considered to reduce horizontal equitable because one group benefits at another’s expense, or to increase horizontal equity if automobile users receive parking subsidies of equal or greater value.


Table 5          Equity Summary




Treats everybody equally.


Depends on type.

Individuals bear the costs they impose.


Requires subsidies, but often less than for driving.

Progressive with respect to income.


Provides affordable mobility for lower-income people.

Benefits transportation disadvantaged.


Provides mobility for non-drivers.

Improves basic mobility.


Provides basic mobility.

Rating from 3 (very beneficial) to –3 (very harmful). A 0 indicates no impact or mixed impacts.




Transit Encouragement programs are appropriate in a wide range of situations. They are usually planned by regional and local government agencies, often with federal and state/provincial support. State/provincial governments can implement Regulatory Reforms to encourage innovative transit services. Businesses can provide various incentives for transit use through Commute Trip Reduction programs.


Table 7          Application Summary





Large urban region.


Federal government.


High-density, urban.


State/provincial government.


Medium-density, urban/suburban.


Regional government.




Municipal/local government.


Low-density, rural.


Business Associations/TMA.


Commercial center.


Individual business.


Residential neighborhood.




Resort/recreation area.


Neighborhood association.






Ratings range from 0 (not appropriate) to 3 (very appropriate).




Incentive To Reduce Driving



Relationships With Other TDM Strategies

Transit Encouragement Programs support and are supported by most other TDM strategies, particularly Transit Service Improvements, Transit Examples, Commute Trip Reduction programs, Transit Oriented Development, Smart Growth, Nonmotorized Transportation Planning, and New Urbanism.




Transit Encouragement Programs depend on support various government agencies. They sometimes require public support for additional funding. Some require business support.



Barriers To Implementation

Major barriers to Transit Encouragement include limited funds, automobile oriented land use, and policies that underprice automobile travel (which makes transit relatively less competitive).



Best Practices

Government agencies (such as the Federal Transit Administration) and professional organizations (such as the American Transit Association) provide resources for Transit Encouragement program planning. These include:


·         Survey potential users and evaluate travel trends to determine what improvements and marketing strategies are likely to increase ridership.


·         Consider using innovative Marketing techniques, price discounts and new fare collection methods (such as “smart cards”) to attract new riders.


·         Identify and respond to the various market segments that they can serve, including Basic Mobility for people who are transportation disadvantaged, and fast, convenient travel for urban commuters.



Wit and Humor

An African farmer became impatient with his predicable life and unglamorous work, and decided to sell his property and become a prospector. He left his family and friends behind and spent years searching unsuccessfully for gold, silver and precious jewels.


Years later, the new owner of the farm noticed a bright stone in the small stream on the property. After admiring the stone’s beauty he put it in his pocket, and later placed it on the fireplace mantel, among other interesting curiosities, such as bird feathers and dried plants. After a few weeks a visitor noticed the stone, and on a closer look his eyes grew wide and he nearly fainted. “Do you know what this is?” the guest asked? The farmer replied that he thought it was an interesting crystal. The visitor explained that this was one of the largest and most exquisite diamonds he had ever seen. The two ran back to the steam and found many more such stones scattered along the bottom.


Eventually, the original farmer heard that the land he had been so eager to sell years earlier turned out to be one of the most productive diamond mines in the world. He had roamed the world looking for riches when a fortune had been sitting in his own backyard.


If the farmer had only taken the time to learn what diamonds look like in their rough state he could have started with his own resources, rather than traveling elsewhere in search of his dreams. In other words, it is often worthwhile developing what you have before abandoning it for something new.



Case Studies and Examples

See the Transit Examples chapter. Also see Pratt (2004), Perk, Flynn and Volinski (2008), TRB (2001) and TranSystems (2007), which provide dozens of examples of successful Transit Encouragement programs and their effects on travel behavior. These examples include:

·         Fare reductions.

·         New fare options, particularly discounted tickets and passes.

·         Free transit areas.

·         More convenient routing (e.g., eliminating the need for transfers).

·         Regularized schedules (such as having a bus every hour and half-hour).

·         Special route to serve particular travel requirements, such as access to employment centers.



Swiss Transit Ridership (

By providing high quality service and suitable incentives (high fuel prices and limiting downtown parking supply), and Transit-Oriented Development, Switzerland maintains high per capita public transit ridership and low automobile mileage, despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, as indicated in Figure 1. This provides a number of economic, social and environmental benefits. U.S. households devote an average of 18% of their household budget to transportation (1% to public transit and 17% to automobile), while Swiss households devote only 8% (1.4% to public transit and 6.6% to automobile). Switzerland also has a very low per capita traffic fatality rate.


Figure 1          Switzerland Versus U.S. Annual Mileage By Mode

Swiss residents drive much less and rely much more on public transport modes than in the U.S.



Internet Journey Planner (

The Greater Manchester Journey Planner is an automated website that provides comprehensive regional transport information. Users input their origin, destination, travel time and preferred mode, and immediately receive a recommended itinerary, complete with transit schedule.


How To Increase Rapid Transit Traffic By 25%

International Railway Journal (, January 2004


Recent research suggests that better passenger information could help to increase the overall amount of public transport traffic by as much as a quarter.


The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) ( examined how transport operators can enhance passenger information and increase traffic as a result, at its recent conference on passenger transport information, held in Gothenburg, Sweden.


The importance of providing clear, accurate, up-to-date, easily-understood information was underlined by UITP’s general secretary, Mr. Hans Rat, who stated: “In an increasingly information-dominated world, intelligent travel choices have to be marketed just as consumer products are. When consumers buy a new product, they find instructions on how to use it. Public transport products are no different, so our consumers need to be informed and guided in their use of our product. It is pointless to provide a service if your customers are unaware of it. Information on its own cannot work miracles, but research suggests that better information may contribute in future to an increase in passenger traffic of between 5% and 25%. Keeping the customer well informed builds loyalty even if some of the information imparted is not good, such as that related to delays.”


UITP used the conference—organised in partnership with InformNorden (the Scandinavian organisation for IT in public transport), Västtrafik (the public transport authority of west Sweden) and the city of Gothenburg—to launch a good practice guide entitled Towards an Integrated Travel Information System. This handbook examines twelve current challenges, and provides solutions, proposals and 70 worldwide good practice cases of how to develop and implement an efficient information strategy.


The challenges cover key areas such as attracting people to public transport in the first place, setting up information systems, choosing the ideal media for travel information, minimising uncertainty for passengers during journeys, making interchanges less stressful, and coping with disruption to services.



Free Transit (

Several European cities that eliminated fares on local transit service experienced increased ridership.


Châteauroux, France, a town of 50,000 residents located halfway between Paris and Bordeaux, eliminated local public transport fares and expanded service in 2001. Total transit ridership approximately tripled from 21 to 61 annual trips per capita. The incremental cost was modest. Forty-seven percent of bus-goers were already riding for free, and tickets covered only 14% of the city’s transit expenses. The costs of printing, selling, collecting and enforcing sales were eliminated. There are also problems: the number of slashed or tagged seats grew from a dozen in 2001 to 118 in 2002. Drivers complained that passengers treated the bus like a personal car, expecting to be dropped off at their doorsteps. Other cities with free transit services include the Belgian city of Hasselt, Aubagne, a metro area of 100,000 spread around 12 towns to the west of Marseille, and Tallinn, Estonia (pop. 406,000) plans to eliminate fares on its transit system for residents. 



Fare Discounts and Smart Cards

Several North American cities have introduced discounts and “smart card” transit payment systems, often in conjunction with new fare structures and discounts that improve system efficiency and increase ridership.


For example, in 1997 the New York City transit system shifted from a token system to a smart card system called MetroCard, introduced free transfers between various transit modes and companies, a 10% bonus for purchases of $15 or more, and other discounted payment options. This new fare structure substantially reduced the cost of many trips. In the following years, transit ridership increased about 30%, as illustrated in Figure 2. Other factors contributed to this growth including a strong regional economy, major capital improvements including new vehicles and the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the system, increased traffic congestion and parking costs, a major influx of immigrants near subway stations and a reduction in crime and fare evasion. But the new payment system and integrated fares are considered important contributors. Most of the other factors did not change suddenly in 1997, yet transit ridership growth rates increased significantly after that year, when the MetroCard system and associated discounts were introduced. One analyst explains, “Many current and potential transit riders are intimidated by the complexity associated with using multiple fare systems, and some are fearful of carrying cash. An integrated fare system using a single pre-paid card is expected to alleviate many of these concerns and give riders a simpler way to budget for transportation needs.” (Schaller 2001)


Figure 2          New York City Annual Subway Ridership (

This figure illustrates changes in transit ridership during the 1990s. Ridership began to grow substantially after the MetroCard system and integrated fares were introduced in 1997. Bus ridership (not shown) showed even stronger growth during that period.



Other transit agencies have also experienced ridership growth in response to new payment options and discounts, including the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (, and the Chicago Transit Authority (



Boulder Community Transit (

Starting in 1989, the city of Boulder, Colorado began implementing a demonstration transit service using a fleet of small, colorfully designed buses to provide high frequency, inexpensive and direct service within the city. And thus, the first Community Transit Network bus, the HOP, was born. Today, there are six bus routes in the Community Transit Network — HOP, SKIP, JUMP, BOUND, DASH and STAMPEDE. All have a unique identity and amenities shaped with community input and direction. In 1990, Transit ridership was about 5,000 riders daily for all local and regional routes in and out of Boulder. In 2002, ridership was at a daily average of about 26,000, a 500 percent increase. The city of Boulder is partnering with the city of Longmont and Boulder County to add another high-frequency bus route on Highway 119, scheduled to begin in 2004.


Benefits of the Community Transit Network

·         Provides a convenient transit alternative to the single occupancy vehicle.

·         Uses neighborhood-scaled vehicles to fit the context of Boulder.

·         Strengthens the local economy by providing easy access around Boulder and to and from surrounding communities.

·         Provides wheelchair accessible transportation.

·         Reduces air pollution by using clean-burning fuels.

·         Alleviates traffic congestion.

·         Minimizes the need for roadway expansion

·         Provides reliable, high frequency service.

·         Operates clean, comfortable, human-scaled vehicles, with special amenities such as music.

·         Promotes a positive transit image with attractive vehicles and on-going marketing support.

·         Accepts Eco Passes (transit passes for students and residents of certain neighborhoods).

·         Includes bike racks, holding two bikes at one time, allow for integration of travel.



In November, 2000, residents of the Forest Glen neighborhood in the city of Boulder voted to form a General Improvement District (GID) to provide RTD transit passes for all neighborhood residents. All Forest Glen residents are eligible to receive an RTD Eco Pass, including home owners and renters. These passes are paid for by residents in the Forest Glen as part of their annual property tax. The RTD Eco Pass allows unlimited riding on all RTD buses, Light Rail service to Denver International Airport, and Eldora Mountain Resort buses.



Commuter Buses Go High-tech

Barry Eberling, Daily Republic (Fairfield - Suisun City, California), 20 Oct. 2003


FAIRFIELD -- Riders can sit back in a comfortable, upholstered chair, watch some TV and relax - all while barreling down Interstate 80 during rush hour. Fairfield-Suisun’s $500,000-apiece commuter buses are on the road.


It’s time to rewrite the old childhood song “The Wheels on the Bus.” Some new lyrics are needed to fit these fancy buses taking riders to the Bay Area and Sacramento.


The ride in the bus is pretty smooth, pretty smooth, pretty smooth . . .

The idea is to keep riders comfortable, not shaking, rattling and rolling. Erase your childhood memories of the school bus. This is a whole different experience. Bus driver Roberta Brewer said the new buses have a smoother ride than her own car, a Volvo. They turn the corner as easily as a car, too, she said. The ride proved fairly smooth on a recent trip, though even the best of buses can’t disguise a large pothole in the road. The bus made travel noise, but nothing in the league with something like BART. Brewer talked to passengers as she drove along, and in a regular, conversational voice. That was difficult in the old buses, she said.


The people in the bus can watch TV, watch TV, watch TV. . .

All riders have to do is glance up at the 8-inch-by-8-inch television screens mounted on the ceiling. They plug in headphones to get the sound. Satellite dishes mounted on the roof of the bus make all of this possible. No channel surfing here, though. People on a recent morning could watch CNN or the local news. The television picture was sharp, except for a brief stretch in Vacaville where the satellite dishes lost their connection with the satellite.


People on the bus can use laptops, use laptops, use laptops. . .

Riders can plug in their laptop computers to an electric source and do some work before they arrive at the office. Soon, they’ll be able to make an Internet connection using the bus satellites. The buses have the capability. Fairfield-Suisun will get an Internet provider after two more luxury buses arrive in December.


Other features also set these buses apart.

Riders can find out the time and date by looking at a message board at the front of the bus. They can stow their briefcases and other items in overhead compartments. They can push a button on their chairs to lean back a little more. The commuter buses are more like the first class section in an airplane than the buses that drive around town. “As far as I’m concerned, they are the nicest equipment you can buy anywhere,” Fairfield Transit Manager Kevin Daughton said.


But the reviews that count most are the ones from general public. Fairfield-Suisun is hoping the luxury buses will entice more people to give transit a try. Adam Galvez commutes to Concord, where he attends De La Salle High School. He recently waited for one of the new, luxury commuter buses to arrive at the Fairfield Transportation Center. “They are much nicer,” Galvez said, sitting on a bench just before sunrise. “There’s a lot more room in them. It seems like less of a bus ride.” He doesn’t watch the televisions, opting to read instead.


Nearby in the bus line sat Doug Campbell. He takes the bus to the Pleasant Hill BART station,

then walks to work in Walnut Creek. He too notices the difference with the new buses.

“It is much more relaxing,” he said. “Of course, taking the bus is much more relaxing than driving, which I did for four years.” He started taking the bus to give him more hours to catch up on his work. Business comes ahead of watching those mounted televisions for him.


Daniel Martinez boarded the bus to go to Vacaville. He liked what he saw. “It’s beautiful,” he said. “I’m just now starting to be a bus rider. But it’s nice to know they have some decent buses.”

On a recent morning, Brewer drove the Route 30 bus to Vacaville, Dixon, Davis and Sacramento.

Three people got on the bus in Fairfield just before 7 a.m. Another five or so got on in Vacaville and 10 more in Dixon. The bus seats about 50, leaving plenty of room for future riders.

Fairfield-Suisun Transit System is hoping those future riders arrive.


Route 30 has five roundtrips daily. It served an average of 82 passengers daily in July, with a farebox recovery rate of 16 percent. Those are the numbers to beat. The new buses started service on this route on Aug. 18 and word of them is just getting out. Daughton thinks commuter-quality buses will make a difference.


Fairfield-Suisun had commuter-quality buses in the early 1990s, though not as fancy as the new ones. To save money, it switched to buses designed for travel within the cities. That meant a noisier, bumpier ride. Ridership fell by 25 percent, Daughton said.


Fairfield-Suisun Transit has seven of the luxury buses, with two to come. The nine buses cost a total of $4.5 million. Of this Fairfield is paying $1.6 million, Vacaville $1.3 million and Solano Transportation Authority and Metropolitan Transportation Commission $1.6 million. Fairfield’s share came not from the city’s general fund, but from state, federal and regional money earmarked for transportation. So riders like Campbell now get to ride in luxury. Is that $500,000-per-bus money well-spent? “Certainly if ridership increases, I’m confident it is money well-spent,” Campbell said.



Free Transit (

In 1997, funding from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) Transportation Solutions Grant Program allowed Missoula, Montana’s Mountain Line transit service to offer free summer fares to the town’s youths, and for everybody during monthly “Try A Better Way Days,” during an annual “Free Fare” week, and during periods of bad air quality. Transit ridership increased 66% from 1996 to 1997.



Real Time Information

Dziekan and Vermeulen (2006) surveyed transit riders before and after the installation of monitors providing real-time information on tram arrival at stops and stations on a major tram line in The Hague. Found that the perceived wait time decreased by 20%, and that this likely to increase transit ridership. A detailed survey by Caulfield and O’Mahony (2009) found that transit passengers derive significant benefits from real-time transit information displays, and somewhat less benefit from accessing transit stop information via a mobile phone short message service (SMS).



Hampton Luxury Liner Premium Bus Services (

Hampton Luxury Liner offers scheduled and charter service between New York city and resort communities in 21-passenger luxury motor coaches. Each motor coach is equipped with leather reclining captains chairs providing wider seating, generous legroom and individual armrests for maximum comfort. Passengers can enjoy current movies and radio. Bus interiors are custom designed with upholstered walls and ceilings, walnut trim, window shades, carpeted floors, designated hanging garment storage, and a restroom. Each motor coach has a rear galley equipped with a refrigerator serving complimentary bottled water, assorted soft drinks and snacks.



Innovative Strategies To Increase Ridership Website (

The U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has developed an interactive website/database that includes dozens of examples of successful innovative programs that have increased ridership. These include improvements in service, fare collection, marketing, vehicles, coordination with other organizations, intermodal activities, operator training, and security. Detailed descriptions are provided for each program, including the type of program, size of service area, and impact on ridership.



Trip Planner (

Trip Planner is an public transit navigation system for the New York City region that provides information on routes, schedules and fares, aerial and three-dimensional views of the city, and walking directions from a subway stop to a destination, in a format that can be viewed by computers and mobile telephones, and produce printed maps.



Youth Transit Pass (

In 1997 and 1998 the San Mateo County Transit District and the Utah Transit Authority teamed up to offer an innovative and highly successful program to encourage young people to ride public transit. The program is called the Summer Youth Pass. Purchase of the pass gives people under 17 unlimited access to buses (as well as light rail in 1999) throughout San Mateo County in California and along an 80-mile corridor in Utah from June through August. Passes cost $25 each and are designed to look like a “dog tag”. In Utah, they receive a $5 discount if they purchase a pass with one or more friends through the Buddy Plan. In both states youth also receive coupons good for discounts or free products at local merchants. SamTrans fitted all 317 SamTrans buses with bike racks which hold two bicycles each. An additional two bikes are allowed inside the bus. Through connections to Caltrain and BART, SamTrans also encourages and supports multimodal travel.


In 1998, SamTrans sold 3,614 Summer Youth Passes. Passholders use their pass an average of 30 times per summer, resulting in substantial reductions in energy use and air pollution compared with automobile trips. The pass provides highly valued independence for teens, while at the same time reassuring parents as it gives teens access to a wide range of activities during the day when parents are generally unavailable to provide transportation.


Achieving Public Transportation Ridership Targets (Scheurer, Horan and Bajwa 2009)

In 2001 the Victoria, Australia State Government established targets to more than double Melbourne’s public transit mode share, to a level equivalent to that found in similar-sized Hamburg (Germany) and other European cities. Researchers use the Spatial Network Analysis for Multimodal Urban Transport Systems (SNAMUTS), a GIS-based spatial analysis tool to evaluate the public transport networks in both cities and identify ways to improve Melbourne transit service quality to achieve targets. The results indicate that increased public transit travel speeds, more frequent service and increased land use density and centrality can help attract more riders to public transportation.



Transit Connectivity (MTC 2006)

The San Francisco Regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission has developed a transit connectivity plan designed to improve service quality and ridership by improving the following features:

·         Information and wayfinding. This includes regional transit information (a single contact for all types of public transport services), improved maps in and around stations, and accurate real-time bus and train arrival information (including dynamic signs at stations, websites and telephone system).

·         Schedule coordination. Improved schedule coordination between different modes and lines, including timed-transfer and pulsed networks.

·         Fare integration. Integrated fares, so one type of pass, rate structure and transfer policy applies to all public transportation services throughout a region.

·         Last-mile improvements. This refers to the ease of access to transit stops and hubs, including shuttle services, bicycle and pedestrian access, and parking for automobiles and bicycles.

·         Hub (transit stop and station) amenities. These include reduction of walking distances (between train and bus platforms and other services), enhanced comfort, weather protection, restrooms, improved security, and improved cleanliness.



To help implement these improvements the regional transportation planning agency established a Transit Connectivity Working Group comprised of representatives from transit agencies, cities, counties, congestion management agencies, business associations, and other stakeholders which provides technical advice and support.



Microsoft CTR and Connector Bus System (

The Microsoft Corporation has approximately 40 thousand workers (employees and contractors) in 13 million square feet of office space dispersed around the Puget Sound (Seattle, Washington) region, including its 500 acre Redmond campus which contains 94 buildings, with 23 cafes, and various employee services and retail outlets. Employee parking is generally unpriced at these worksites. In order to reduce commuting costs for both employees and their communities, since 1995 Microsoft has implemented an extensive Commute Trip Reduction program that encourages employees to use efficient travel options. This includes the following incentives:



In addition, starting September 2007 Micorsoft began offering its employees free Connector Bus services between residential areas where large numbers of employees live and their major employment centers. Coaches provide premium-quality features such as guaranteed, reclining seats with generous legroom, 110 volt power at each seat, on-board wireless Internet and GPS services. These buses made use of the region’s extensive HOV Priority lanes, making them time competitive with automobile travel. By 2009 this service had:


Ridership increased significantly as fuel prices increased during 2008, indicating that even relatively high-income professionals will respond to financial incentives such as increased fuel, parking and insurance pricing, provided that they have high quality alternatives that save time and increase productivity. Rider surveys have determined that over 60% of Connector riders were former SOV drivers and had not previously commuted by public transit.



Connected Bus (

The Connected Bus is a project to use new technologies to make bus transit systems more efficient and attractive. It can help standardize technological systems between transit equipment producers, operators and users. The Connected Bus incorporates the following technologies and services:



Streamline Program Increases Ridership and Reduces Costs (Koonce, et al, 2006)

Portland, Oregon’s Streamline program includes various transit operational improvements that improve service quality and efficiency on designated Frequent Service routes. This $4.5 million program includes the installation of transit signal priority at 275 intersections and installation of signal priority emitters on buses; installing curb extensions; consolidating bus stops; removing bus pullouts; and improving service quality. The program has the following impacts:








Between 1999 and 2005, the streamlined routes’ service-hours increased 16.3% while ridership on those routes increased 18.2%. In contrast, over the same period, the number of vehicle-hours allocated to non-Frequent Service routes has decreased 2.4% and ridership on those routes has decreased 0.7%. This represents 12,000 additional weekday bus riders, which provide $1.7 million additional annual farebox revenue.



Passenger Use of Technologies (Schwieterman, et al. 2009)

Approximately 40% of long-distance bus, train and airplane passengers are using portable technology devices such as computers, mobile telephone and portable music devices at any time. Use of these technologies tends to be higher among younger and business travelers.


The type of technology used by travelers varies between modes of travel and day of week. More than half of technology users on curbside bus services are engaged in audio activities, such as cell-phone calls, using digital music players, and other such activities. Train passengers are more likely to use visually oriented technologies such as laptop computers. These and other findings suggests that the ability to use portable electronics is valued by passengers and helps offset the longer travel time associated with certain bus and train trips. On-board wireless internet service may help explain the rapid growth in ridership on intercity buses that offer this service.



How Do You Wean People Off Cars? By Rebranding Bikes And Buses

The Only Way To Get Consumers To Choose Cheaper, More Efficient Transportation Is To Make It The Cool Option

Skibsted Ideation (


More than half the global population now lives in urban environments, and that number will only grow: By 2050, an estimated 80% will live in cities. This means that in the next 40 years we will need to build the same amount of urban infrastructure as we have in the last 4,000 years. This trend will also have an impact on global warming: Between 1990 and 2007, transportation-related emissions increased by a third, while emissions from other sectors decreased. Regardless of our political views, we can’t afford to perpetuate the car-centric model. It’s time to brand alternative forms of transportation in a way that convinces consumers to opt for higher-efficiency modes over the traditional automobile.


It’s widely accepted and understood that consumer decisions are as much influenced by emotional attachments to a product or service as by the hard facts such as price and performance. So why is it that when it comes to most aspects of human transportation, the world still seems to believe people are rational machines?


Taking the bus, riding a bike, or driving a cheap lightweight electric car must be perceived as cool, a symbol of status even in places like China and India, where buying a Mercedes is seen as almost a life goal in itself. Here, brands like Tesla and Biomega have shown a way to create aspirational change rather than a functionalistic approach to building more infrastructure. 


Actually, in many cases there is plenty of infrastructure already in place; it’s just poorly designed and relatively unbranded compared to cars. Despite an adequate interstate network, traveling by bus is considered in itselfdeplorable in the U.S. at large, whereas buses in the U.K. have been well-branded.


This is an area where the right design, branding, and marketing could make a huge difference to the world and future generations. These changes might even be one of the huge opportunities out there. Together, cities are already bigger than any individual market or alliance. And urban populations are becoming increasingly uniform as a consequence of globalization. The rise of a large urban market and the need to reduce CO2 emissions is an opportunity ripe for new urban-mobility solutions.



Public Transit Promotion (EMBARQ 2011)

The report, From Here to There: A Creative Guide to Making Public Transport the Way to Go, identifies creative ways that transit agencies and advocates can help make public transport the preferred way to travel in order to attract new users, retain existing users, and build political and financial support from government officials. It recommends eight specific strategies:



Creating a Culture of Public Transit (Margonelli 2011)

An exurban office park in California shows that we don't have to spend long commutes alone in our cars if we don't want to.


In San Ramon, California, 33% of the 30,000 workers leave their cars at home. Despite the fact that Bishop Ranch is 37 miles from San Francisco, a dozen miles from the nearest BART rail station, and home to Chevron's corporate offices, its parking lots are surprisingly empty, and it has won many awards for transit. Marci McGuire, the program manager for the Ranch's Transportation center, describes the attitude at the park as "a culture" where it's cool to have a bus pass. "When you do it right, it's like a cult," she says.


I spent a couple of hours with Marci to find out how she nurtures this cult that gets 10,000 people out of their cars daily. It seemed to me that there were three aspects of the program that operate counter to the current thinking. First, logistically, there are a lot of buses that terminate and originate within a few blocks of all the 30,000 jobs in the park. Secondly, the focus of the transit program is not exclusively environmental, but encompasses health, stress, and financial benefits. Thirdly, though there are 500 businesses at the park, a single office takes pride in its ability to get people on transit, and thus there's an evangelical zeal to the whole operation. It's not "just a program"--it's Marci and her team's program.


First, the logistics: The park was developed from farmland by Masud Mehran's Sunset Development Corporation in 1978 on the belief that San Francisco real estate would soon become expensive and companies would need cheaper space for their administrative services. His grandson, Alexander Mehran, describes the transit program as "a necessity that developed into a whole different animal." When the park started, it was simply too far from anywhere. "We were getting crushed by people going to work in Walnut Creek and Dublin," where the BART stations are. As a result, the ranch bought a fleet of buses and worked with the city and county transit agencies to subsidize both bus routes and bus passes for workers. There are now 13 different bus routes running to the park, and the connections to BART and various local train and express bus services are coordinated. On its website, the Ranch now pitches its transit program as a competitive advantage.


The need for employment-centered transit often falls out of debates about Transit Oriented Development, but recent analysis by economist Jed Kolko of the Public Policy Institute of California shows that making sure that transit ends at job sites reduces car commutes more than putting the transit near homes. Policy-wise, transit oriented employment could be easier to encourage through tax breaks and enterprise zones.


Secondly, Marci and her team see leaving the car at home as a lifestyle choice rather than a sacrifice--something you'd read about in Real Simple or Oprah. While Marci tells everyone that one Ranch rider got rid of his car and saved $10,512 a year on his auto lease, maintenance, fuel, and tolls through the transit program, she sees that as the start of a long discussion. "If they're just looking to save money, it won't work," she explains, "If you're riding because it helps you make several changes in your life, you'll ride longer. It really matters that people feel they have a choice."


Marci says she often tries to figure out what's causing stress in people's lives and uses transit to solve it. One of the biggest problems is that people feel pressed for time, and she suggests they get off transit a stop or two early and walk so that they can avoid spending time on the treadmill later. The ranch is also along a bike path which is used by hundreds of workers for occasional rides. Marci herself lost 40 pounds taking transit and sprinting to make a difficult connection. The one hurdle Marci says she can't overcome is childcare problems, but for easier problems the Ranch also provides free taxi rides home--though only 2-3 percent of the coupons are ever used.


Marci says that once riders begin leaving their cars at home they go through a stressful period of two weeks or so where they feel that they've lost the control they had in the car. But within three weeks they notice their overall stress levels are lower. "Transit requires that you go at a different pace. You have to wait. If there were roses, we'd smell them," she says, "There's not much of that in our lives." She says HR people have called her saying some of their meaner workers have become pleasant people after switching to transit.


Do you believe her? Would you believe that taking transit solves problems other than getting to work and avoiding oil use--if that? You probably would if Marci were standing in front of you. She's a small, passionately chatty evangelist. Because she and her small staff have been tasked with transit for the whole park of 550 businesses, they take pride in every rider in the program. While urban planners tend to see bus ridership as a design issue, Marci sees it as a cultural endeavor. A conversation with her ricochets from practicalities like transfers to aspirations (that stress!) to an academic understanding of traffic. Typical of her approach is a packet of microwave popcorn –the currency of office afternoons--adorned with a sticker reading: "What do popcorn and traffic have in common?" (Answer: They both expand rapidly to fill empty space.) Will that abstract concept alone get a person out of her car? No, but Marci sees the impact as cumulative. While policy pundits like myself gabble on about the need for policy leadership and pricing externalities and the like, Marci works the gig more like an Avon Lady -- hand delivering bus passes to offices in the park so she can get to know the receptionists who then refer frustrated auto commuters to her.


Sitting in Marci's office, the path towards reducing our oil use in a hurry seems clearer than elsewhere--and possible. Maybe we don't need to wait for years of expensive infrastructure buildouts, new development patterns, technology, and punishing taxes or high oil prices. We need some of that, to be sure. But in the short term we could do a lot with policies to encourage employer-centered transit, a lot of connector buses, and a whole army of Marcis.


Calgary’s soaring transit use suggests high ridership is possible even in sprawling cities

Yonah Freemark, The Transit Politic (; at


Calgary is a boomtown — the center of Canada’s resource economy, whose explosion in recent years has led to big gains in Calgary’s population and commercial activity. It’s the sort of place that might seem completely hostile to public transit; 87 percent of locals live in suburban environments where single-family homes and strip malls predominate; surrounding land is mostly flat and easily developable farmland; the city is almost 10 times bigger than it was in 1950, meaning it was mostly built in a post-automobile age; and big highways with massive interchanges are found throughout the region. Even the transit system it has serves many places that are hostile to pedestrians and hardly aesthetically pleasing.


It’s an environment that looks a lot more like Dallas or Phoenix than Copenhagen.

And yet Calgary is attracting big crowds to its transit system, and those crowds continue to increase in size. Like several of its Canadian counterparts, Calgary is demonstrating that even when residential land use is oriented strongly towards auto dependency, it is possible to encourage massive use of the transit system. As I’ll explain below, however, strong transit use in Calgary has not been a fluke; it is the consequence of a strong public policy to reduce car use downtown. It provides an important lesson for other largely suburban North American cities that are examining how to reduce their automobile use.


Much of the trend of increasing transit use has come recently, in part because of the expansion of the city’s light rail network, C-Train. That system, which opened in 1981 and has been expanded several times (it now provides service on 36 miles of lines), has become the backbone of the municipal transit agency and now serves more rides than the bus network. C-Train is now the second-most-heavily used light rail system in North America.


But, as the following chart demonstrates, that growth has not come to the detriment of the bus network. Indeed, Calgary buses now are providing about 20 million more annual rides than they were in 1996. Overall, the transit system is carrying about 80 million more riders annually than it was 17 years ago.

As the following chart shows, that growth has significantly exceeded even the dramatic population growth that has occurred in the city of Calgary during that period (the city accounts for the large majority of the Calgary metropolitan region). While population increased by about 50 percent over that time, transit ridership soared by more than 90 percent. In other words, the increase in transit use is far more than simply a response to population gains.



If Calgary’s transit use had started at nothing, these trends could be less impressive, suggesting the city was simply doing better than it used to. In fact, per capita, Calgary’s population is using transit at lower rates than peers in Montreal and Toronto. Yet those cities were developed earlier than Calgary and a significantly higher proportion of their residents live in pedestrian-friendly, walkable neighborhoods that are supposed to be amenable to transit use.


But Calgary’s transit use is far more similar to that of those older Canadian cities than it is to American boomtowns. In 2013, Calgary’s transit services provided about 168 million annual trips, compared to about 70 million in each Dallas and Phoenix. Those metropolitan areas each have more than four times the population of Calgary. In other words, people in Calgary — an energy-driven, Western sprawl town — are using transit at about 10 times the rate of people in U.S. peers.

The difference between Calgary and a city like Dallas is not simply a reflection of differences in investment (after all, Calgary could be paying for sensational transit offerings that are simply not offered in the American sunbelt). While both Calgary and Dallas have spend hundreds of millions of dollars building out their light rail system, Calgary’s provides three times the daily rides on less than half the track miles. What gives?


At the heart of the matter seems to be a radically different view about how to manage automobiles downtown. Decades of progressive thinking about how to run downtown have produced a Calgary where there are no freeways entering the central city. Citizens there have been vocally opposed to building highways there since the 1950s, with the consequence that it is simply not that quick to get into downtown by car. This has a number of related effects, including the incentivization of non-automobile modes and the reduction in outward suburban sprawl (since it takes a longer amount of time to get to the center of downtown).


In Dallas, on the other hand, six grade-separated highways radiate from downtown, a loop tightly encircles it, and state highway planners have been pushing for a new tollway directly adjacent to it — in the middle of a park.


Perhaps most impressive have been Calgary’s parking policies. For decades, the municipal government has managed parking supply downtown, in part by directly owning a huge proportion of the spaces. The city has also limited the number of spaces allowed to be built in the center. In 1981, the city had 25 million square feet of offices downtown and 33,000 parking spaces (1,320 parking spaces per million square feet), but today, it has more than 40 million square feet of offices (and more under construction) and 47,000 spaces (1,175 spaces per million square feet, an 11 percent reduction). The limitations on the number of parking spaces has resulted in an expensive parking market; the city has the second-highest parking rates in the Americas, after New York City.


For car users wishing to get downtown, the city has compensated by investing in 17,433 park-and-ride spaces at almost every light rail station, of which 36 percent are reserved for people who have paid $80 a month, a considerable discount off the downtown rates. This emphasis on park-and-ride spaces departs from the typical urbanist emphasis on transit-oriented development as a strategy for station areas, but it seems to have worked in Calgary.


These policies have produced the overall city transit ridership noted above, and have been particularly relevant in affecting travel trends downtown. Between 1998 and 2014, the share of downtown workers using transit to get to work has increased from 37 percent to 50 percent; a rise has also been noted in the share of people walking and cycling, which has risen from 8 percent to 11 percent over that period. That transit share is just a bit lower than that seen in Chicago’s Inner Central Area (55 percent in 2000), a central business district that was developed far earlier and which has a far more developed transit system.


Pro-transit policies have not produced a dramatic move of businesses away from Calgary’s center city — the fear many politicians and business promoters point to when complaining about limitations on automobile access to downtown. In fact, Calgary’s office market is doing quite well, with five office buildings over 500 feet completed downtown since 2010, compared to just one in Dallasone in Houston, and none in Phoenix. Calgary’s downtown population has expanded rapidly to 16,000 people and now hosts 140,000 jobs and eight shopping centers. It should be noted that the Calgary municipal government has also played an important role in advocating for a compact city and directed local policies to support that goal.In other words, restricting automobile use and encouraging transit ridership not only don’t hurt business — they may be encouraging it.


As I referenced at the beginning of this article, while Calgary may be an exception to the rule when compared to many major U.S. regions, its experience has been similar to several other Canadian regions that have prioritized transit use even as they have grown spectacularly. Canadian cities from Calgary to Winnipeg, Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto each have significantly higher transit shares than you might imagine given their populations. Those cities each have also avoided the dominance of automobile use in their downtowns.


Calgary’s success — unlike that of Vancouver, Montreal, or Toronto, for example — comes despite its relative lack of pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and a transit system that has encouraged them. To a significant degree, it is clear that it is possible to boost transit use simply by making it more expensive and complicated to drive to work, and relatively easier to take transit. These results fall in line with the survey responses documented by Transit Center in its Who’s On Board report from earlier this year; that study showed that people offered transit “benefits” (tax subsidies`) by their employers were five times as likely to use transit as those who weren’t (page 20). Another recent study found that higher parking costs were associated directly with higher transit use.

Does Calgary’s example mean other issues frequently associated with transit, from a mix of uses to walkable blocks, are unimportant to building transit use? To some extent, probably; peoples’ travel decision making is heavily informed by the time and cost of their commutes, so it doesn’t necessarily matter so much how they experience the surrounding urban environment. But the goal of building dense, diverse cities has other important impacts, from higher walking and biking mode shares to higher non-automobile use for non-work trips.


A more useful reading of Calgary’s success is that even highly suburbanized regions can be reoriented towards transit successfully. But doing so will require not only raising the cost of commuting by automobile, but also ensuring that jobs are concentrated downtown, where they are most easily accessed by transit. If the former goal is tough to envision for many sprawling U.S. cities, the latter may be a fantasy in a country where jobs have increasingly suburbanized.



Innovative Bus Rapid Transit Systems In India (EMBARQ 2014)

The Bus Karo Programme works to improve city bus service in Indian cities. The programme is designed to build capacity, provide technical support and share best practices in the field of urban bus transport in India. The initiative is a best-practice and peer-to-peer learning network, where the implementation of pilot projects brings about significant outcomes. The programme has three primary aspects:

Mentoring Transit: Partnering with public transport agencies through support from experts to aid the implementation of pilot projects designed to enhance city bus services.

Talking Transit: Organising workshops and facilitating discussions in which public transport authorities can gather to discuss strategies and hurdles to achieving sustainable transport. This also provides an opportunity for peer-to-peer capacity building.

Learning Transit: Facilitating the sharing of best practices through the documentation and distribution of international and India-specific cases of city bus services.


The report Bus Karo: A Guidebook on Planning and Operations, by EMBARQ India provides comprehensive information on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system planning, development and operations, based on international experience.


The report, Bus Karo 2.0 – Case Studies from India, provides more detailed information on BRT planning and operations, including real case studies from various Indian cities to demonstrate the large efficiency gains and benefits that BRT systems can provide. 


These publications are part of EMBARQ India’s efforts towards facilitating this peer-to-peer learning. It provides an overview of the current state of affairs regarding the urban public transport system in India.



Myki Fare Card System (

Myki is an integrated smart card ticketing system in the Melbourne, Australia region. It is designed to make public transport use easier and more convenient. It includes three key elements of integration:


Myki cards are available as full fares, concession fares, senior’s and child fares. Payments (top up) can be made by cash or credit card payments to Myki machines or via the web. Each card can be loaded in two ways:


This system provides numerous benefits:



Experience with new fare structures indicates how they can increase ridership. Off-peak travel tends to be more price sensitive than peak travel. Introduction of Melbourne’s nightrider services, discounted off-peak fares, free Sunday travel for Seniors, a Sunday Saver ticket, and a weekend pass, have each contributed to increased ridership. For example, the Sunday Saver ticket was implemented in 2005 to boost Sunday ridership when the system had surplus capacity, and since road congestion is significant on weekends, this product helps alleviate road congestion problems. The reduction in Sunday ticket fares initially reduced fare revenue, but this was eventually offset by increased ridership. The Seniors Sunday pass also encourages use of spare system capacity. This pass provides free travel for senior card holders on Sundays and has transitioned to Myki.



Continuing Transit Use After Construction Projects (Becker 2013)

During the Duluth Megaproject highway construction project, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Duluth Transit Authority encouraged transit use with increased transit service, dedicated bus lanes, park and rides facilities, free fares and targeted marketing. Surveys found that all of these efforts helped attract riders to transit.


Surveys also looked at what factors were important for keeping riders on transit after highway construction ended. Once new habits are formed, it is likely travelers continue those habits until another event forces them to examine their travel patterns. This research found less than 15% of transit riders changed their behavior within two years and all did due to life changes, primarily job change or finishing school. It appears that once travelers change to transit, riders continue to use transit as long as it is a reasonable option. Increasing fares to normal levels did not create a significant incentive to stop using transit.



Transit Romance (

Public transit travel is a social activity – people often interact while waiting for or riding in a bus or train, and some of these interactions can be very positive: friendships, romance and even marriage. Some public transit agencies promote public transit as a way to find love.


For example, Calgary Transit launched Transit Love Story Contest for Valentine’s Day. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) also asked riders to share their “moving” love stories to compete for grand prizes, including an elevated ride on the “Love Letter Train Tour” to view 50 rooftop murals along Philadelphia’s Market Street corridor, followed by a champagne and chocolate reception, plus an invitation to a special screening of the “Love Letter Project” movie. The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority is hosting a “love in transit party for all would-be romantics” at the Transit Museum. The New York Times Metro writer Alan Feuer read poems and illustrator Sophie Blackall displayed a pop-up art exhibit based on Craigslist “Missed Connections” posts.



BRT Success Stories (

The report, Modernizing Public Transport (Hidalgo and Carrigan 2010), summarizes information on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, based on research and interviews with planners and public officials in cities and transport agencies around the world. It reviews and synthesizes information regarding challenges experienced by transport system decision makers in three key areas: planning, implementation and operations. In order to assist urban transport planners and implementing agencies, the study also provides recommendations on avoiding or mitigating similar difficulties when introducing bus reforms in developing world cities.



Tax Exempt Transit Benefits (

Commuter Check is a transit fare savings program that operates through employers. Commuter Checks are purchased by employers as either a company-paid benefit or by using pre-tax employee paid contributions. The Bay Area Commuter Check program began in 1991. The program was expanding by approximately 35% a year, and since the pre-tax employee-paid option became available in June 1998, the rate of growth has exceeded 100%. More than 2000 employers had participated by August 1999. In 1999, it is projected that over $15 million in Bay Area Commuter Checks will be sold, with over 35,000 employees now participating. Surveys indicate significant user appreciation of this service, and that it increases transit use.


High-end buses to make bid for Lexus commuters

David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, Monday, 2 March 2009



Call it a corporate shuttle bus, without the corporation. On Tuesday, a San Francisco company that runs luxury shuttles for the likes of Google and Yahoo will start a new, weekday bus service connecting Marin County, San Francisco and San Jose.


The buses will be the same kind of tricked-out rides that Bauer's Intelligent Transportation ( uses for its corporate clients, with padded leather seats, television screens, free Wi-Fi and power plugs for laptops. But they will be open to anyone who wants to pay the fare - $8.20 one way on most routes. "We're trying to get people out of their Mercedes or Lexus, people who wouldn't ride public transit," said company Chief Executive Officer Gary Bauer.


Each route will have just a handful of stops. To deal with the spread-out urban geography of the South Bay, the stops are located near prominent companies or transit hubs. The Sunnyvale stop, for example, is at North Mathilda and Fifth avenues, near Juniper Networks, Lockheed Martin and a light rail station for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.


The buses will have coffee and breakfast available for purchase, served by a "ride host" much like an airline flight attendant. A passenger can leave San Francisco's Ferry Building at 5:30 a.m., eat, watch the morning news, work on the laptop and arrive in Sunnyvale at 6:45 a.m.


"We want to encompass all that and make it one seamless transaction for you," Bauer said. "We're looking to give you back 10 hours of your life" each week. The new bus service, called Wi-Drive, give San Francisco companies another way to comply with the city's new commuter benefits ordinance. The law, which took effect in January, requires businesses with 20 or more workers to reimburse employees for transit fares, offer them free shuttle service on company-funded vehicles or set up a payroll deduction that lets them use pretax wages to purchase transit passes.


"It's a chic way of taking advantage of the ordinance," said San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. He wasn't thinking of high-end buses when he wrote the ordinance, but he said he's pleased to see businesses coming up with new ways to respond. "I expected that new, emerging modalities would become part of the landscape," Mirkarimi said. "I welcome the creativity."


Rod Diridon, head of the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University, said the bus lines were an interesting idea. But he questioned whether commuters willing to let someone else drive would choose the buses over Caltrain, which runs a similar route, costs less and skips the Peninsula's crowded freeways. "With auto congestion increasing all the time, I'm not sure how they're going to compete," he said.


Bauer is banking on the buses' amenities and atmosphere. The kind of customer his company is targeting, he says, isn't interested in the utilitarian buses and trains of existing mass-transit systems. In addition, Wi-Drive goes places that Caltrain and BART don't, such as Larkspur. If the service proves a success, Bauer's will expand it to such locations as Stockton, Fairfield, Napa and Santa Cruz.




References And Resources For More Information


American Public Transit Association ( provides extensive information on public transit issues.


Ethan Arpi (2009), Transit Agencies Need to Invest in Marketing: A Lesson from Los Angeles, The City Fix (; at


Amy H. Auchincloss, et al. (2014), “Public Parking Fees And Fines: A Survey Of US Cities,” Public Works Management & Policy, http://pwm.Sagepub.Com/content/early/2014/02/19/1087724x13514380.


Carol Becker (2013), Mitigating Highway Construction Impacts Through the Use of Transit, Report no. MnDOT 2013-13, University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies ( for the Minnesota Department of Transportation; at


Rakesh Belwal and Shweta Belwal (2010), “Public Transportation Services in Oman: A Study of Public Perceptions,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 13, No. 4; at


Daniel Boyle (2014), Commonsense Approaches for Improving Transit Bus Speeds, Synthesis 110, Transit Cooperative Research Program, TRB (; at


Major Desman Brown (2006), Urban Public Bus Transportation in Developing Countries: A Roadmap For Successful Planning, Desmon Brown (


Jeffrey Brown and Gregory L. Thompson (2009), The Influence of Service Planning Decisions on Rail Transit Success or Failure, Mineta Transportation Institute (; at


Colin Buchanan and Partners (2003), Transferability Of Best Practice In Transport Policy Delivery, Scottish Executive (


Sally Cairns, et al (2004), Smarter Choices - Changing the Way We Travel, UK Department for Transport (; at This comprehensive study provides detailed evaluation of the potential travel impacts and costs of various mobility management strategies. Includes numerous case studies.


Jeffrey M. Casello (2007), “Transit Competitiveness in Polycentric Metropolitan Regions,” Transportation Research A, Vol. 41, No. 1 (, January, pp. 19-40.


Brian Caulfield and Margaret O’Mahony (2009), “A Stated Preference Analysis of Real-Time Public Transit Stop Information,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 1-20; at


Center for Urban Transportation Research ( provides TDM materials and classes and publishes TMA Clearinghouse Quarterly.


Center for Transportation Excellence ( provide research materials, strategies and other forms of support on the benefits of public transportation.


Robert Cervero (2006), “Office Development, Rail Transit, and Commuting Choices,” Journal of Public Transportation, Volume 9, No. 5 (, pp. 41-55.


CFTE (2005), Building Communities Through Public Transportation: A Guide for Successful Transit Initiatives, Center for Transportation Excellence, for the Public Transportation Partnership for Tomorrow (


Cisco (2008), The Connected Bus Project: A Partnership of Cisco and the City and County of San Francisco, Connected Urban Development Program, Cisco Systems (; at


Commuter Choice Program ( provides information, materials and incentives for developing employee commute trip reduction programs.


Commuter Check ( works with transit agencies to provide transit vouchers as tax exempt employee benefit.


Katrin Dziekan and Arjan Vermeulen (2006), “Psychological Effects of and Design Preferences for Real-Time Information Displays,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 9, No.1 (, pp. 71-89.


Katrin Dziekan (2008), Ease-of-Use in Public Transportation - A User Perspective on Information and Orientation Aspects, Doctoral Thesis, KTH Architecture and the Built Environment (; at


EMBARQ (2011), From Here to There: A Creative Guide to Making Public Transport the Way to Go, EMBARQ: The World Resources Institute’s Center for Sustainable Transport (; at


EMBARQ India (2009), Bus Karo: A Guidebook on Planning and Operations, EMBARQ India (; at


EMBARQ India (2014), Bus Karo 2.0 – Case Studies from India, EMBARQ India (; at


John E. Evans (2004), Transit Scheduling And Frequency, TCRP Report 95, Transportation Research Board (; at


Google Transit Trip Planner ( provides public transit route planning and schedule information in participating cities.


Kadley Gosselin (2011), “Study Finds Access to Real-Time Mobile Information Could Raise the Status of Public Transit,” Next American City (; at


Chris A. Hale and Matthew Miller (2012), “Amenity And Opportunity At Rail Stations,” Australian Planner, DOI:10.1080/07293682.2012.703679.


Susan Handy, Steve Spears and Marlon G. Boarnet (2010), Draft Policy Brief on the Impacts of Transit Service Strategies Based on a Review of the Empirical Literature, for Research on Impacts of Transportation and Land Use-Related Policies, California Air Resources Board (


Matthew H. Hardy (2009), “Transit Response to Congestion Pricing Opportunities: Policy and Practice in the U.S.” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 61-78; at


M. Harvey, A. Tomecki and C. Teh (2012), Identify, Evaluate And Recommend Bus Priority Interventions, Research Report 506, New Zealand Transport Agency (; at


Peter J. Haas and Katherine Estrada (2011), Revisiting Factors Associated with the Success of Ballot Initiatives with a Substantial Rail Transit Component, Mineta Transportation Institute (; at


Lyndon Henry and Todd Litman (2006), Evaluating New Start Transit Program Performance: Comparing Rail And Bus, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Dario Hidalgo and Aileen Carrigan (2010), Modernizing Public Transportation: Lessons Learned From Major Bus Improvements In Latin America And Asia, EMBARQ (; at


Innovative Mobility Transit Connections Research (, sponsored by the University of California, explores innovative technologies and services that could improve transportation options.


Karla H. Karash, et al. (2008), Understanding How Individuals Make Travel and Location Decisions: Implications for Public Transportation, TCRP Report 123, Transit Cooperative Research Board (; at


Jeff Kenworthy (2008), “An International Review of The Significance of Rail in Developing More Sustainable Urban Transport Systems in Higher Income Cities,” World Transport Policy & Practice, Vol. 14, No. 2 (; at


Kittleson & Associates (2013), Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual – Third Edition, TCRP Web Document 165, Transit Cooperative Research Program, TRB (; at


Peter Koonce, Paul Ryus, David Zagel, Young Park and Jamie Parks (2006), “An Evaluation of Comprehensive Transit Improvements—TriMet’s Streamline Program,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 9, No. 3, (, pp. 103-115; at


Herbert Levinson, et al. (2003), Bus Rapid Transit: Vol. 1 - Case Studies and Vol. 2 - Implementation Guide,  Transit Cooperative Research Program Report 90, Transportation Research Board (; at


David Levinger and Maggie McGehee (2008), “Connectivity: Responding to New Trends Through a Usability Approach,” Community Transportation, Spring 2008, pp. 33-37; at


Todd Litman (2004), Rail Transit In America: Comprehensive Evaluation of Benefits, VTPI (; at


Todd Litman (2005), Evaluating Public Transit Benefits and Costs, VTPI (; at


Todd Litman (2007), Valuing Transit Service Quality Improvements, VTPI (; at; originally published in the Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 11, No. 2, Spring 2008, pp. 43-64; at


Todd Litman (2008), Build for Comfort, Not Just Speed: Valuing Service Quality Impacts In Transport Planning, VTPI (; at


Todd Litman (2010), Raise My Taxes, Please! Evaluating Household Savings From High Quality Public Transit Service, VTPI (; at


Todd Litman (2011), The First Casualty of a Non-Existent War: Evaluating Claims of Unjustified Restrictions on Automobile Use, and a Critique of 'Washingtons War On Cars And The Suburbs', Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2011), Smart Congestion Relief: Comprehensive Analysis Of Traffic Congestion Costs and Congestion Reduction Benefits, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at; an earlier version published as “Evaluating Rail Transit Benefits: A Comment,” Transport Policy, Vol. 14, No. 1 (, January 2007, pp. 94-97.


Todd Litman (2013), Local Funding Options for Public Transportation, Paper 13-3125, Transportation Research Board 2013 Annual Meeting (; at


Todd Litman (2013), Safer Than You Think! Revising the Transit Safety Narrative, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2015), When Are Bus Lanes Warranted? Accounting For Economic Efficiency, Social Equity, and Strategic Planning Goals, presented at Threadbo 14 Conference (; at


Lisa Margonelli (2011), “How to Create a Culture of Public Transit: The 'Marci Option',” The Atlantic (, 12 April 2011; at


MTC (2006), MTC Transit Connectivity Plan, Metropolitan Transportation Commission (


MultiSystems (2003), Fare Policies, Structures, and Technologies: Update, Report 94, Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), Transportation Research Board (; at


NextBus ( is a private company that uses Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to provide real-time transit vehicle arrival information to passengers and managers in various North American cities.


Noxon Associates (2008), The Case For TDM In Canada: Transportation Demand Management Initiatives And Their Benefits – A Handbook For Practitioners, Association for Commuter Transportation of Canada (; at


Noxon Associates (2011), Transportation Demand Management for Canadian Communities: A Guide to Understanding, Planning and Delivering TDM Programs, Transport Canada (; at


NSTPRSC (2007), Potential Impacts on Transit Systems of Increased Demand Resulting from TDM Strategies, Commission Briefing Paper 4A-01, National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission (; at


Richard Oram and Stephen Stark (1996), “Infrequent Riders: One Key to New Transit Ridership and Revenue,” Transportation Research Record 1521, TRB (, pp. 37-41; summary at


Gris Orange (2012), Improving Bus Service: Modest Investments To Increase Transit Ridership, Transport Canada (; at


Victoria Perk, Jennifer Flynn and Joel Volinski (2008), Transit Ridership, Reliability, and Retention, National Center For Transit Research (; at


PPS and Multisystems (1999), The Role of Transit Amenities and Vehicle Characteristics in Building Transit Ridership, Transit Cooperative Research Program Report 46, National Academy Press (; at


Richard H. Pratt (2004), Traveler Response to Transportation System Changes, TCRP Report B12-A, TRB (; at


John Preston (2012), Integration for Seamless Transport, Discussion Paper No. 2012-01, International Transport Forum (; at


John Pucher and Ralph Buehler (2009), “Sustainable Transport that Works: Lessons from Germany,” World Transport Policy and Practice, Vol. 15, No. 1, May, pp. 13-46 (


Reconnecting America (2004), Hidden In Plain Sight: Capturing The Demand For Housing Near Transit, Center for Transit-Oriented Development; Reconnecting America ( for the Federal Transit Administration (; at


Reconnecting America (2008), TOD 202: Station Area Planning: How To Make Great Transit-Oriented Places, Reconnecting America (; at


Caroline J. Rodier and Susan A. Shaheen (2006), Transit-Based Smart Parking: Early Field Test Results, Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting (


Sherry Ryan and Lawrence F. Frank (2009), “Pedestrian Environments and Transit Ridership,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 12, No. 1, 39-57; at


Bruce Schaller (2001), Mode Shift in the 1990’s: How Bus and Subway Ridership Outpaced the Auto in Market Share Gains in New York City, Schaller Consulting, (


Jan Scheurer, Edmund Horan and Shamas Bajwa (2009), Benchmarking Public Transport and Land Use Integration in Melbourne and Hamburg: Hints for Policy Makers, AESOP 2009 Congress, Liverpool; at


Joseph P. Schwieterman, et al. (2009), Is Portable Technology Changing How Americans Travel? A Survey Of The Use Of Electronic Devises On Intercity Buses, Trains, And Planes, Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, DePaul University (; at


Joseph P. Schwieterman and Lauren Fischer (2010), The Intercity Bus: America’s Fastest Growing Transportation Mode: 2010 Update on Scheduled Bus Service, Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, DePaul University (; at


Smart Card Alliance ( is working to establish recommended standards and guidelines for automated payment systems.


Jeffery J. Smith (2001), Financing Transit Systems Through Value Capture: An Annotated Bibliography (Previously titled: Does Public Transit Service Raise Nearby Property Values Enough To Pay For Itself Were The Value Captured?), Geonomy Society (; at


Robert G. Stanley and Robert Hyman (2005), Evaluation Of Recent Ridership Increases, TCRP Research Results Digest 69, Transportation Research Board (


Hiroaki Suzuki, Robert Cervero and Kanako Iuchi (2013), Transforming Cities with Transit: Transport and Land Use Integration for Sustainable Urban Development, Urban Development Series, World Bank (; summary at; at


TCRP (2009), Public Transportation’s Role In Addressing Global Climate Change, Research Results Digest 89, Transit Cooperative Research Program, Transportation Research Board (; at


TCRP (2011), Use and Deployment of Mobile Device Technology for Real-Time Transit Information , Synthesis 91, Transit Cooperative Research Program, Transportation Research Board (; at


TCRP (2014), Characteristics of Premium Transit Services that Affect Choice of Mode, Transit Report 166, Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), Transportation Research Board; at


Think Swiss (2009), On Track to the Future: Sustainable Transportation A Challenge for the 21st Century, Thank Swiss, Prescence Switzerland (; at


Greg L. Thompson and Tom G. Matoff (2003), “Keeping Up with the Joneses: Planning for Transit in Decentralizing Regions,” The Journal of the American Planning Association Vol. 69, No. 3, Summer, pp. 296-312.


John E. Thompson and Katsuhide Nagayama (2005), “Controlled Public Transit Fares in the Developing World: Help or Hindrance to the Urban Poor?,” ITE Journal, Vol. 75, No. 6 (, June, pp. 44-49.


Clive Thompson (2010), “Clive Thompson to Texters: Park the Car, Take the Bus,” Wired Magazine, 22 February 2010; at


Gregory Thompson, et al. (2012), Understanding Transit Ridership Demand For A Multi-Destination, Multimodal Transit Network In An American Metropolitan Area: Lessons For Increasing Choice Ridership While Maintaining Transit Dependent Ridership, Mineta Transportation Institute (; at


Transit ITS Website ( provides information on ways that Intelligent Transportation Systems technologies are being applied to improve transit services.


Transit Website Database ( catalogues transit agencies that provide information through the Internet.


TransLink (2012), Transit-Oriented Communities Design Guidelines: Creating more livable places around transit in Metro Vancouver, TransLink (; at


TranSystems Corporation (2007), Elements Needed to Create High Ridership Transit Systems: Interim Guidebook, TCRP Report 111, Transportation Research Board (; at


TRB (2007), Bus Rapid Transit Practitioner's Guide, Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 128, Transportation Research Board (; at


TRB (2008), Understanding How to Motivate Communities to Support and Ride Public Transportation, Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 122, Transportation Research Board (; at


TRB (2013), Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual, Third Edition, Transportation Research Board (; at


TRL (2004), The Demand for Public Transit: A Practical Guide, Transportation Research Laboratory, Report TRL 593 (; at


Katherine F. Turnbull and Richard H. Pratt (2003), Transit Information and Promotion: Traveler Response to Transport System Changes, Chapter 11, Transit Cooperative Research Program Report 95; TRB (; at


USDOT (2010), Advancing Metropolitan Planning for Operations: The Building Blocks of a Model Transportation Plan Incorporating Operations - A Desk Reference, Planning for Operations, US Department of Transportation (; at


VAG (2014), Coordinating Public Transport, Victorian Auditor-General (; at


Vukan Vuchic (2005), Urban Transit: Operations, Planning and Economics, John Wiley & Sons (


Jarrett Walker (2012), Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking About Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives, Island Press (; summary at


Jarrett Walker (2015), Explainer: The Transit Ridership Recipe, Human Transit (; at


Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Todd Goldman And Nancy Hannaford (2012), Shared-Use Bus Priority Lanes on City Streets: Case Studies in Design and Management, Mineta Transportation Institute (; at


Clark Williams-Derry (2011), Killer Transit Apps: Two New Applications For The Car-Lite Lifestyle, Sightline Institute (


Frances Woolley (2011), Riding the Loser Cruiser, Worthwhile Canadian Initiative;


Lloyd Wright and Walter Hook (2007), Bus Rapid Transit Planning Guide, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (; at

This Encyclopedia is produced by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute to help improve understanding of Transportation Demand Management. It is an ongoing project. Please send us your comments and suggestions for improvement.




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