Transit Evaluation

Determining the Value of Public Transit Service


TDM Encyclopedia

Victoria Transport Policy Institute


Updated 28 November 2018

This chapter describes methods for evaluating public transit benefits, costs and equity impacts. These include financial subsidies, improved mobility, reduced traffic congestion, road and parking facility cost savings, consumer cost savings, reduced pollution emissions, and support for land use, economic development, and equity objectives. Conventional transportation planning often overlooks some of these positive impacts and so undervalues transit. More comprehensive evaluation practices tend to justify more policies and programs that support transit. This framework can also be used to evaluate ridesharing. This chapter summarizes the more comprehensive report Evaluating Public Transit Benefits and Costs, available at



Introduction.. 1

Transit Demand. 9

Transit Impact Categories. 10

Transit Expenditures. 10

Impacts on Existing Transit Users. 11

Mobility Benefits. 12

User Benefits. 12

Public Service Support 13

Equity Benefits. 13

Option Value. 13

Efficiency Benefits. 15

Vehicle Cost Savings. 15

Avoided Chauffeuring. 16

Congestion Reduction.. 17

Parking Cost Savings. 19

Safety, Health and Security Impacts. 19

Roadway Costs. 20

Energy Conservation and Emission Reductions. 21

Travel Time Impacts. 24

Land Use Impacts. 25

Economic Development Impacts. 26

Comparing Transit and Automobile Costs. 29

References And Resources For More Information.. 31




Public Transit (also called public transportation, public transport, mass transit and urban transit) includes various transport services available to the general public including vanpools, buses, trains, ferries, and their variations. These services can play various roles in a modern transport system and provide various benefits, including direct benefits to users and indirect benefits that result if transit helps reduce automobile travel or create more compact Transit Oriented Development. Table 1 summarizes public transit benefit categories; not every transit improvement provides all of these benefits, but most provide several.


Table 1            Public Transit Improvement Benefit Categories

Improved Transit Services

Increased Transit Travel

Reduced Automobile Travel

Transit-Oriented Development

·  Improved user convenience and comfort

·  Improved travel options, particularly for non-drivers

·  Improved local property values

·  Direct user benefits

·  Economic development benefits from increased access to education and employment

·  Increased public fitness and health, since most transit trips include walking and cycling links

·  Reduced traffic congestion

·  Road and parking cost savings

·  Consumer cost savings

·  Reduced crash risk to others

·  Air and noise pollution reductions

·  Energy conservation

·  Economic development benefits

·  Reduced sprawl (more compact development) reduced land consumption, openspace preservation, and reduced public service costs.

·  Improved accessibility, particularly for non-drivers

·  Reduced vehicle ownership

Public transit improvements can provide a variety of benefits to users and society, including some that tend to be overlooked or undervalued in conventional transport planning.

This chapter discusses how to Evaluate the value to society of a particular transit service or change in service. It describes how to create a comprehensive evaluation framework that incorporates various categories of impacts (benefits and costs), and how to quantify these impacts. It discusses how to determine whether a particular public transit program is worthwhile.


There are four general categories of transit improvements:



Since transit service and automobile travel both impose significant costs (including indirect costs such as congestion, road wear and pollution emissions), improvements and incentives that increase transit load factors and attract travelers who would otherwise drive tend to provide large benefits. Described differently, there is little benefit to society from simply operating transit vehicles (excepting Option Value); most benefits depend on how much transit is used, how well the service responds to users’ needs and preferences, the amount of automobile travel displaced, and the various savings and benefits that result (including reduced vehicle ownership and operating cost, avoided roadway and parking facility expansion, increased safety, etc.).



The Importance of Comprehensive Analysis

Economists and planners have developed computer Models and various analysis tools for evaluating the economic value of specific transport options. These were generally developed to evaluate a particular mode or objective. For example, highway investment models are designed to measure the value of road improvements, and emission reduction models are designed to prioritize emission reduction strategies. Because of their limited scope, these tools tend to be ineffective at evaluating multiple modes and planning objectives (Comprehensive Evaluation).


Conventional transport evaluation models tend to undervalue public transit because they overlook many benefits, as summarized in Table 2. To their credit, many public officials realize that transit provides more benefits than their models indicate, and so support transit more than is justified by benefit/cost analysis, but this occurs despite rather than as a result of formal economic evaluation. Decision making would improve with better evaluation Models that account for more impacts.


Table 2            Impacts Considered and Overlooked (Comprehensive Evaluation)

Usually Considered

Often Overlooked

Financial costs to governments

Vehicle operating costs (fuel, tolls, tire wear)

Travel time (reduced congestion)

Per-mile crash risk

Project construction environmental impacts

Downstream congestion impacts

Impacts on non-motorized travel

Parking costs

Vehicle ownership and mileage-based depreciation costs.

Project construction traffic delays

Generated traffic impacts

Indirect environmental impacts

Strategic land use impacts

Transportation diversity value (e.g., mobility for non-drivers)

Equity impacts

Per-capita crash risk

Impacts on physical activity and public health

Some travelers’ preference for transit (lower travel time costs)

Conventional transportation planning tends to focus on a limited set of impacts. Some tend to be overlooked because they are relatively difficult to quantify (equity, indirect environmental impacts, crash risk), and others are ignored simply out of tradition (parking costs, long-term vehicle costs, construction delays). These omissions tend to undervalue transit improvements.



Recent research expands the range of impacts to consider in transit evaluation (ECONorthwest and PBQD 2002; Litman 2015; Brown and Thompson 2009). This guide summarizes this research and describes how to apply more comprehensive evaluation in a particular situation.



Evaluation Best Practices

Economic Evaluation (also called Appraisal or Analysis) refers to methods to determine the value of a planning option to support decision making (Litman 2001). Economic evaluation involves quantifying and comparing the marginal (incremental) impacts (benefits and costs) of various options in a standardized format. Weisbrod, et al. (2017) summarize methods for evaluating public transit benefits.


Economic evaluation requires an evaluation framework which specifies the basic structure of the analysis. This identifies the following (TDM Evaluation):

·         Evaluation method, such as cost-effectiveness, benefit-cost, lifecycle cost analysis, etc.

·         Evaluation criteria, which are the impacts to be considered in the analysis. Impacts can be defined in terms of objectives or their opposite, problems (for example, congestion reduction is an objective because congestion is considered a problem), or they can be defined in terms of costs and benefits (for example, congestion reduction benefits can be measured based on reduced congestion costs).

·         Modeling techniques, which predict how a policy change or program will affect travel behavior and land use patterns.

·         Base Case, meaning what would happen without the policy or program.

·         Comparison units, such as net present value, benefit/cost ratio, or cost per lane-mile, vehicle-mile, passenger-mile, incremental peak-period trip, etc.

·         Base year and discount rate, which indicates how costs are adjusted to reflect the time value of money.

·         Perspective and scope, such as the geographic range of impacts to consider.

·         Dealing with uncertainty, such as use of sensitivity analysis or other statistical tests.

·         How results are presented, so that the results of different evaluations can be compared.



It is important to carefully define the questions and options to be considered. A transit evaluation may consider whether a particular transit investment is cost effective (benefits exceed costs), which of several transit options provides the greatest net benefits, whether a transit improvement provides more value than a highway improvement, and how to optimize transit service benefits, and how the benefits and costs of a transportation option are distributed. It is generally best to evaluate several options, which may include a base case (what happens if no change is implemented), and various roadway improvements, transit improvements, and support strategies. Transit options might include small, medium and large service improvements, plus transit improvements combined with various support strategies such as ridership incentives and transit oriented development. All quantified values and calculations should be incorporated into a clearly-organized spreadsheet, which allows various options and assumptions to be tested and adjusted.


Transit system costs tend to be relatively easy to determine, since most show up in government agency budgets. The main challenge is therefore to identify all incremental benefits. Some impacts are difficult to monetized (measured in monetary units) with available analysis tools and data. Such impacts should be quantified as much as possible and described. For example, it may be impractical to place a dollar value on transit equity benefits, but it may be possible to predict the number and type of additional trips made by transportation disadvantaged people, and to discuss the implications of this additional mobility on their ability to access basic services, education and employment.


Some impacts can be considered in multiple categories, so it is important to avoid double-counting. For example, productivity gains from more accessible land use can be counted as land use benefits or economic benefits, but not both. Some impacts are economic transfers rather than net gains. It is important to identify their full effects. For example, from a local perspective, federal grants can be considered a net economic gain, since the money originates from elsewhere, but at a national level these are economic transfers, resources shifted from one area to another. Similarly, taxes and fares are economic transfers, costs to those who pay, and benefits to those who gain the revenue. Both types of impacts should be considered in economic evaluation.



Evaluating Transit Service Quality

A key step in transit evaluation is to determine the quality of service. This can include a variety of factors that affect availability, convenience, connectivity, and comfort of transit travel.


A number of tools evaluate transit service Accessibility, that is, the portion of community destinations that have convenient transit service. This should generally be measured door-to-door, taking into account walking and waiting, in addition to in-vehicle travel (Shah and Adhvaryu 2016).


Transit Level-Of-Service (LOS) refers to the convenience, comfort and security of transit travel as experienced by users (Kittleson & Associates 2013; Litman 2007; TRB 2013; Elias and Parks 2013). Level-Of-Service (LOS) ratings, typically from A (best) to F (worst), are widely used in transport planning to evaluate problems and potential solutions. Such ratings systems can be used identify problems, establish Performance Indicators and targets, evaluate potential solutions, compare locations, and track trends. They can also be used for travel demand modeling, to identify the types of improvements that could increase transit ridership.


The People Near Rapid Transit (PNT) index measure the portion of city residents located within a 1 kilometer walk of high quality public transit. It compares the ratings of various cities around the world (ITDP 2016).


Table 3 lists Level-of-Service rating factors. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT 2007) developed the LOSPLAN computer program to automate these calculations.


Table 3            Level-of-Service Rating Factors





Where and when transit service is available.

·     Annual service-kilometers per capita

·     Daily hours of service

·     Portion of destinations located within 500 meters of transit service.

·     Hours of service.


Frequency of service and average wait time.

·     Trips per hour or day

·     Headways (time between trips)

·     Average waiting times.

Travel Speed

Transit travel speed.

·     Average vehicle speeds.

·     Transit travel speed relative to driving the same trip.

·     Door-to-door travel time.


How well service actually follows published schedules.

·     On-time operation.

·     Portion of transfer connections made.

·     Mechanical failure frequency.

Boarding speed

Vehicle loading and unloading speed.

·     Dwell time

·     Boarding and alighting speeds.

Safety and security

Users perceived safety and security.

·     Perceived transit passenger security.

·     Accidents and injuries.

·     Reported security incidents.

·     Visibility and lighting.

·     Official response to perceived risks.

·     Absence of vandalism.

Price and affordability

Fare prices, structure, payment options, ease of purchase.

·     Fares relative to average incomes.

·     Fares relative to other travel mode costs.

·     Targeted discounts or exemptions as appropriate.

·     Payment options (cash, credit cards, etc.)

·     Ticket availability (stations, stores, Internet, etc.)

Network and system integration

Ease of transferring between transit and other travel modes (bus, train, ferry, airport, etc.).

·     Quality of transit service to transport terminals

·     Ease of accessing transit service information from transport terminals.


Passenger comfort

·     Seating availability and quality.

·     Space (lack of crowding).

·     Quiet (lack of excessive noise).

·     Fresh air (lack of unpleasant smells)

·     Temperature (neither too hot or cold)

·     Cleanliness.

·     Washrooms and refreshments (for longer trips).


Ease of reaching transit stations and stops.

·     Transit Oriented Development.

·     Distance from transit stations and stops to destinations.

·     Walkability (quality of walking conditions) in areas serviced by transit.

Baggage capacity

Accommodation of baggage.

·     Ability, ease and cost of carrying baggage, including special items such as pets.

Universal design

Accommodation of diverse users including people with special needs.

·     Accessible design for transit vehicles, stations and nearby areas.

·     Ability to carry baggage

·     Ability to accommodate people who cannot read or understand the local language.

User information

Ease of obtaining user information.

·     Availability, accuracy and understandability of route, schedule and fare information, at stops, stations, destinations; by Internet and mobile telephone; and by transit agency staff and other information providers.

·     Real-time transit vehicle arrival information.

·     Information available to service people with special needs (audio or visual disabilities, inability to read or understand the local language, etc.)

Courtesy and responsiveness

Courtesy with which passengers are treated.

·     How passengers are treated by transit staff.

·     Ease of filing a complaint.

·     Speed and responsiveness with which complaints are treated.


The attractiveness of public transit facilities.

·     Attractiveness of vehicles and facilities.

·     Attractiveness of documents and websites.

·     Quality of nearby buildings and landscaping.

·     Area Livability (environmental and social quality of an area) and community cohesion (quantity and quality of positive interactions among people in an area).

·     Number of parks and recreational areas accessible by nonmotorized facilities.


Effectiveness of efforts to encourage public transportation.

·     Popularity of promotion programs.

·     Effectiveness at raising the social status of transit travel.

·     Increases in public transit ridership in response to marketing efforts.

This table illustrates factors that can be included in transit and pedestrian Level-of-Service ratings used to adjust travel time values.



Travel Impacts

The benefits of a transit service or improvement are affected by the type of travel impacts it causes. The table below indicates the effects of various types of transit improvements. For example, some improvements provide basic mobility or increase affordability. Some are particularly effective at attracting motorists and reducing automobile travel.


Table 4            Travel Impacts of Various Transit Improvements

Type of Transit Improvement

Improved Service Quality

Increased Affordability

Provides Basic Mobility

Reduces Auto Travel

Additional routes, expanded coverage, increased service frequency and hours of operation.






Lower fares, increased public subsidies.





More special mobility services.





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











HOV Priority.





Comfort improvements, such as better seats and bus shelters.





Transit Oriented Development and Smart Growth, that result in land use patterns more suitable for transit transportation.







Pedestrian and Cycling Improvements that improve access around transit stops.





Improved rider information and Marketing programs.





Improved Security.





Targeted services, such as express commuter buses, and services to Special Events.







Universal Design.





Park & Ride facilities.





Bike and Transit Integration (bike racks on buses, bike routes and Bicycle Parking at transit stops).





This table summarizes the travel impacts of various transit improvements. Some improve conditions or reduce costs for existing riders, others cause shifts from automobile to transit. 



Mobility benefits result from the additional mobility provided by a transportation service, particularly to people who are physically, economically or socially disadvantaged. These benefits are affected by the types of additional trips served. For example, transit services that provide basic mobility, such as access to medical services, essential shopping, education or employment opportunities, can be considered to provide greater benefits than more luxury trips, such as recreational travel (Basic Mobility).


Efficiency benefits result when transit reduces the costs of traffic congestion, road and parking facilities, accidents and pollution emissions. These benefits depend on the amount and type of automobile traffic reduced. For example, transit services provide extra benefits if they reduce urban-peak automobile trips, rather than off-peak or rural trips, because urban-peak automobile travel tends to impose the greatest congestion, parking and pollution costs. Table 5 compares mobility and efficiency objectives.


Table 5            Comparing Mobility and Efficiency Objectives





Increase mobility by non-drivers.

Reduce costs such as congestion and pollution.

How it is evaluated.

Quality of mobility options available, particularly for disadvantaged people.

Compared with the same trips made by automobile.

Service distribution and coverage.

Structured to provide the greatest possible coverage, including service at times and places where demand is low.

Focused on urban-peak travel conditions where congestion, facility costs and pollution are worst.

Service quality.

Service may be basic (i.e., bus rather than rail), but it must be comprehensive and affordable.

Designed to attract discretionary riders with premium quality service (e.g., rail rather than bus), Park & Ride, and express services.

Fare structure.

Affordable to disadvantaged people.

Attractive to commuters.

Public transit has have various objectives that sometimes conflict.



To help analyze travel impacts it is useful to determine mode substitution factors, that is, the change in automobile trips resulting from a change in transit trips, and vice versa. For example, when reduced fares increase bus ridership, typically 10-50% substitute for an automobile trip. Other trips shift from nonmotorized modes, vehicle passengers (which may involve a rideshare trip, in which case automobile travel is not reduced when a passenger shift to transit, or a chauffeured trip, in which a driver makes a special trip to carry a passenger), or be induced travel. Conversely, when a disincentive such as parking fees or road tolls cause automobile trips to decline, generally 20-60% shift to transit, depending on conditions. Pratt (1999) and TRL (2004) provide information on the mode shifts that typically result from incentives such as transit service improvements and parking pricing.


In addition to direct travel impacts (increased mobility by non-drivers, automobile travel shifted to transit), transit improvements can have indirect impacts by providing a catalyst for more multi-modal, accessible communities where people tend to own fewer cars and drive less than would otherwise occur (Land Use Impacts on Transportation). These impacts can be significant. Some research indicates that where high-quality transit creates more efficient land use, each transit passenger-mile represents a reduction of 3 to 6 automobile vehicle-miles (Newman and Kenworthy 1999, p. 87; Litman 2015).



Transit Demand

Travel Demand, refers to the number and types of trips people would make by a particular mode under particular conditions. The table below summarizes various factors that affect transit demand, and how they can be used to increase transit ridership.


Table 6            Factors Affecting Transit Ridership


Using These Factors To Increase Ridership And Benefits


Increase transit service coverage and frequency.


Provide information on where, when and how to use transit.


Keep fares low and offer targeted discounts, such as commuter passes.


Provide express commuter services and transit priority measures.


Develop more accessible land use patterns and more diverse transportation systems.


Provide park & ride facilities, transit service to major transportation terminals.


Provide adequate service so transit vehicles are not crowded.


Insure that transit vehicles, facilities and service areas are considered secure.


Treat transit riders with respect, and promote transit as a desirable travel option.

Many factors affect transit use. They can be used to increase ridership and benefits.



For example, a particular transit route might attract 5,000 riders per day under current conditions; 6,000 if more employers have Commute Trip Reduction programs; 7,000 if a local college has a Campus Transport Management program; 8,000 if service quality improves so every passenger is guaranteed a comfortable seat (no standees); 9,000 if Park & Ride, Pedestrian and Bicycle access improve; and 10,000 if Parking Management programs are implemented in the area. Increasing Fuel Prices tends to increase transit demand, particularly for discretionary travelers who have the option of driving (Maley and Weinberger (2009)


For more information on transit demand see Transportation Elasticities, Coogan, et al. 2018; Kittleson & Associates (2013); TRL (2004); Fehr & Peers (2004); Litman (2004b); TranSystem (2007); Brown and Thompson (2009); Handy, Spears and Boarnet (2010), and CTOD (2009).



Transit Impact Categories

This section describes various types of transit impacts (benefits and costs), and how they can be measured. For additional information on these impacts see Litman, 2009.


Transit Expenditures

Most direct transit service costs can be obtained from transit agency budgets. Table 7 summarizes U.S. transit service expenses and revenues. Detailed information is available on individual transit agencies. Expenses are divided into capital (facilities, equipment and other durable goods) and operation (labor, fuel and maintenance). Some costs, such as Park&Ride lots, special roadway facilities such as bus pullouts, and increased road maintenance due to bus traffic may be borne by other government agencies.


Table 7            2002 U.S. Public Transit Expenses and Revenues (APTA 2003)



Trolley Bus

Heavy Rail

Commuter Rail

Demand Response

Light Rail



Capital Expenses (m)









Operating Expenses (m)









Total Expenses (m)









Average Fare Per Trip









Fare Revenues (m)









Subsidy (Total Exp. - Fares)









Vehicle Revenue Miles (m)









Passenger Miles (m)









Avg. Veh. Occupancy









Avg. Trip Distance (miles)









Unlinked Trips (m)









Total Expend. Per Pass. Mile









Fare Rev. Per Pass. Mile









Subsidy Per Pass. Mile









Percent Subsidy












Costs and revenues can vary significantly within a particular transit system, line or route. In general, urban-peak transit has higher costs, but also has higher load factors and so tends to have greater cost recovery (lower subsidies) per passenger-mile compared with off-peak and suburban/rural transit service. The costs of a particular transit improvement can vary widely depending on conditions, such as whether rights-of-way and equipment already exist or must be acquired. If a transit service already exists, it is sometimes possible to increase capacity at minimal marginal cost.


Measuring Transit Service Costs

Transit service costs can usually be obtained from transit agencies. Costs for specific transit programs and projects require analysis of the particular situation. For comparison it is usually helpful to calculate costs per passenger-mile or passenger-trip.


Impacts on Existing Transit Users

It is important to take into account impacts on existing users when evaluating changes in transit service and fares. This refers to trips that would be made by transit regardless of whether a new program or policy is implemented – additional transit trips made by existing users are considered in the mobility benefits section below.


Measuring Existing User Impacts

Financial impacts on existing users can be measured directly. For example, a new $25 per month transit subsidy provided to 100 current transit commuters represents a $30,000 annual benefit to that group. A 25¢ fare increase that applies to 1,000,000 annual fares represents an annual cost of $250,000 to existing riders.


Some service quality changes can be measured with conventional transportation evaluation techniques, such as applying standard travel time values (“Travel Time Costs,” Litman 2009). Travel time is generally valued at half average wage rates, and two or three times higher for time spent driving in congestion, walking to a transit stop, waiting for a bus, or traveling in unpleasant conditions such as in a crowded vehicle, as discussed later in this report. A value of about $8 per hour is appropriate for transit passengers who are comfortable, and a higher value of $16 per hour is appropriate for time spent walking, waiting or riding in a crowded transit vehicle.


For example, a bus priority strategy that saves transit riders 10,000 hours annually in travel time can be valued at $80,000 if all passengers have a seat, or $120,000 if half of those passengers are standees for whom travel time savings values are doubled. Similarly, benefits to existing users of increased transit frequency or coverage can be calculated based on their reduced average walking and waiting time.


A service improvement that increases rider comfort, such as reducing crowding, can also be measured by reducing the cost per hour of passenger travel time. For example, if a transit service improvement reduces crowding for 5,000 passenger-hours, the benefit to these riders can be considered worth $40,000, because it eliminates the travel time cost premium associated with uncomfortable conditions, reducing travel time costs from $16 to $8 per hour. Special surveys can help identify transit service quality factors that affect travel behavior, and the value that travelers place on these factors (Stradling, et al. 2007).



Mobility Benefits

Mobility benefits result from additional personal travel that would not otherwise occur, particularly by people who are transportation disadvantaged, that is, they cannot drive due to physical, economic or social constraints.


Public transit currently serves a relatively small portion of trips in most communities, but the trips it serves tend to be high value to users and society. Transit provides Basic Mobility by helping people reach important activities such as medical services, education and employment. This is particularly true of Demand Response service riders, who have moderate to severe disabilities that limit their mobility, and often are unable to use other travel options, such as walking, cycling or conventional taxis.


Several categories of mobility benefits are described below. Some of these categories may overlap. They tend to differ in their nature and distribution (who benefits), and so reflect different perspectives. For example, user benefits tend to interest residents and public service support interests public officials.


User Benefits

This refers to direct benefits to users from increased access to services and activities, including medical services, economic benefits from schooling and employment, enjoyment from being able to attend social and recreational activities, and financial savings from being able to shop at a wider range of stores. By improving access to education and jobs transit can increase people’s economic opportunities.


People living near public transit service tend to work more days each year than those who lack such access (Sanchez 1999), and many transit commuters report that they would be unable to continue at their current jobs or would earn less if transit services were unavailable. Similarly, a significant portion of students depend on public transit for commuting to schools and colleges, so a reduction in transit services can reduce their future productivity. A survey of adults with disabilities actively seeking work found 39% considered inadequate transport a barrier to employment (Fowkes, Oxley and Henser 1994). Increased employment by such groups provides direct benefits to users and increases overall productivity. Economic benefits to businesses are discussed in the Productivity Benefits section.


Public Service Support

Transit can support government agency activities and reduce their costs. For example, without transit services some people are unable to reach medical services, sometimes resulting in more acute and expensive medical problems. Transit services can help reduce welfare dependency and unemployment. Transit access can affect elderly and disabled people’s ability to live independently, which can reduce care facility costs. As a result, a portion of public transit subsidies may be offset by savings in other government budgets.


Equity Benefits

Transit helps achieve community Equity objectives. It increases economic and social opportunities for people who are economically, physically and socially disadvantaged, and helps achieve equity objectives, such as helping physically and economically disadvantaged people access public services, education and employment opportunities. Transit helps reduce the relative degree that non-drivers are disadvantaged compared with motorists.


Option Value

Transit services provides option value, referring to the value people place on having a service available, even if they do not currently use it (ECONorthwest and PBQD, 2002). Transit can provide critical transportation services during personal and community-wide emergencies, including when a personal vehicle has a mechanical failure, or a disaster limits automobile travel. This increases transportation system Resilience. Many people who do not currently use transit value its existence in case they need it in the future, similar to ship passengers valuing lifeboats, even when it is not used.


Measuring Mobility Benefits

Tomer, et al. (2011) develop a database for evaluating the portion of residents within convenient walking distance of transit services, the frequency of that transit service, and the portion of jobs within 90-minute maximum transit trip for residents, as indicators of a transit system’s ability to provide basic mobility for non-drivers in a particular area. The value to users of increased mobility that results from price changes (fare reductions, targeted discounts, parking cash-out) can be calculated using the “rule of half,” which involves multiplying half the price change times the number of trips that increase or decrease, which represents the midpoint between the old price and the new price, and therefore the average incremental value of those trips (Small 1999). For example, if a 50¢ fare discount increases transit ridership by 10,000 trips, the value to users of these additional trips can be considered to be $2,500 (10,000 x 50¢ x ½).


Porter, et al. (2015) define and evaluate various benefits from improving mobility for non-drivers including improved access to education and employment, and therefore increased economic productivity, plus improved healthcare access, and resulting reductions in the costs of providing public services.


In most situations the maximum value to users of mobility benefits is their savings relative to the same trips by taxi, which represents a more costly but nearly universal alternative. Cheaper alternatives are sometimes available, such as walking, cycling, ridesharing or telecommuting, so actual average savings are probably about half taxi savings, assuming a linear curve of alternative travel option costs.


Demand response services tend to provide significantly greater mobility benefits because users face greater transportation constraints, and alternatives options tend to be more costly. Many demand response clients are unable to walk, and some cannot be accommodated by conventional taxis because they have large mechanical wheelchairs or other special needs.


Passengers who shift from a current transit route to a new route can be assumed to benefit from increased convenience and time savings, typically from reduced walking. This can be calculated from user surveys or estimated at $1-3 value of travel time savings per trip, assuming 5-10 minute average time savings per trip.


The table below summarizes the four categories of transit mobility benefits and describes how they can be measured. Mobility benefits are affected by the degree to which transit service is available to those who need it and the additional mobility it provides. For example, a transit improvement that increases the number of households and worksites within a quarter-mile of bus service, or which increases the number of trips made by people with disabilities or low incomes, can be considered to increase mobility benefits. These benefits sometimes overlap; for example, some user and public service benefits can also be counted as equity benefits.


Table 8            Comparing Equity and Efficiency Objectives



How It Can Be Measured


User Benefits

Direct user benefits from the additional mobility provided by public transit.

Rider surveys to determine the degree that users depend on transit, the types of trips they make, and the value they place on this mobility.

Public Service Support

Supports public services and reduces government agency costs.

Consultation with public agency officials, and surveys of clients, to determine the role transit provides in supporting public service goals.


Degree to which transit helps achieve equity objectives such as basic mobility for physically, economically and socially disadvantaged people.

Portion of transit users who are economically, socially or physically disadvantaged, the importance of mobility in ameliorating these inequities, and the value that society places on increased equity.

Option Value

Benefits of having mobility options available in case it is ever needed.

Transit service coverage, ability of transit to serve in emergencies, the value that society places on mobility insurance. EcoNorthwest and PBQD (2002) describes ways to quantify transit option value.

Public transit provides several types of mobility benefits. These are affected by the degree that transit service is available to non-drivers, and the amount of increased mobility it provides.



Efficiency Benefits

Efficiency benefits consist of savings and other benefits that result when transit substitutes for automobile travel. These include vehicle cost savings, avoided chauffeuring, congestion reductions, parking cost savings, increased safety and health, energy conservation and pollution emission reductions.


These benefits are affected by the magnitude and type of automobile travel reduced. For example, urban-peak automobile travel reductions tend to provide greater benefits than reductions in urban off-peak or rural travel, due to greater reductions in traffic congestion, parking costs and other costs. As a city grows, these benefits become increasingly important as a cost effective way to reduce traffic congestion and parking problems, particularly to major commercial and employment centers such as downtown. These benefits increase if transit improvements and incentives are designed to attract discretionary riders (people who have the option of driving).


The efficiency benefits of transit improvements reflect the factors described below.


·         Strategies that increase bus mileage on routes with low load factors (for example, increasing mileage on suburban and off-peak routes) may increase some costs, such as total energy consumption and pollution emissions.


·         Strategies that shift travel from automobile to transit while increasing average vehicle occupancies (that is, they help fill otherwise empty buses) tend to reduce overall costs.


·         Strategies that improve transit vehicle performance (for example, retrofitting older diesel buses with cleaner engines or alternative fuels, or creating busways that reduce congestion delays) tend to reduce specific costs.


·         Strategies that create more accessible land use patterns and less automobile-dependent transportation systems, provide large benefits by reducing overall per capita vehicle travel.


Specific efficiency benefits and how they can be measured are discussed below.



Vehicle Cost Savings

Shifting travel from automobile to transit Vehicle Cost savings to consumers. The magnitude of these savings depends on several factors, including the type of mileage reduced and whether vehicle ownership declines (“Vehicle Costs,” Litman 2009).


At a minimum, shifting from driving to transit saves fuel and oil, which typically total about 10¢ per vehicle-mile reduced. In addition, depreciation, insurance and residential parking are partly variable, since increased driving increases the frequency of vehicle repairs and replacement, reduces vehicle resale value, and increases the risks of crashes, traffic and parking citations. These additional mileage-related costs typically average 10-15¢ per mile, so cost savings total 20-25¢ per mile reduced. Savings may be greater under congested conditions, or where transit users avoid parking fees or road tolls.


Consumers save more if transit allows vehicle ownership reductions. For example, if improved transit services allow 10% of users to reduce their household vehicle ownership (e.g., from two vehicles to one), the savings average $300 annually per user (assuming a second car has $3,000 annual ownership costs), or 6¢ per transit travel passenger-mile (assuming 20 miles of transit travel a day, 250 days per year) in addition to vehicle operating cost savings. Reduced vehicle ownership can reduce residential parking costs. Cumulative savings can be large. Litman (2004) found annual transportation cost savings of about $1,300 per household in cities with well-established rail transit systems compared with cities that lack rail.


Measuring Vehicle Cost Savings

Table 9 summarizes various categories of savings that can result from reduced automobile ownership and use. These savings typically total 30¢ per off-peak vehicle-mile and 40¢ per urban-peak vehicle-mile when automobile travel shifts to public transit. Other researchers recommend using 40-50¢ per vehicle mile reduced (ECONorthwest and PBQD 2002). Even greater savings result if transit oriented development causes a significant number of households to reduce their vehicle ownership.


Table 9            Potential Vehicle Cost Savings (Vehicle Costs)



How It Can Be Measured

Typical Values

Vehicle Operating Costs

Fuel, oil and tire wear.

Per-mile costs times mileage reduced.

10-15¢ per vehicle-mile. Higher under congested conditions.

Long-Term Mileage-Related Costs

Mileage-related depreciation, mileage lease fees, user costs from crashes and tickets.

Per-mile costs times mileage reduced.

10¢ per vehicle-mile.

Special Costs

Tolls, parking fees, Parking Cash Out, PAYD insurance.

Specific market conditions.


Vehicle Ownership

Reductions in fixed vehicle costs.

Reduced vehicle ownership times vehicle ownership costs.

$3,000 per vehicle-year.

Residential Parking

Reductions in residential parking costs due to reduced vehicle ownership.

Reduced vehicle ownership times savings per reduced residential parking space.

$100-1,200 per vehicle-year.

Reducing automobile travel can provide a variety of consumer savings. (2001 U.S. dollars).



Avoided Chauffeuring

Chauffeuring refers to additional automobile travel specifically to carry a passenger. It can also include taxi trips. It excludes Ridesharing, which means additional passengers in a vehicle that would be making a trip anyway. Some motorists spend a significant amount of time chauffeuring children to school and sports activities, family members to jobs, and elderly relatives on errands. Such trips can be particularly inefficient if they require drivers to make an empty return trip, so a five-mile passenger trip produces ten miles of total vehicle travel. Drivers sometimes enjoy chauffeuring, for example, when it gives busy family members or friends time to visit. However, chauffeuring can be an undesirable burden, for example, when it conflict with other important activities. Transit service allows drivers to avoid undesirable chauffeuring trips while still providing enjoyable trips.


Measuring Chauffeuring Cost Savings

This benefit can be estimated based on the number of chauffeured automobile trips shifted to transit, times vehicle cost and driver travel time savings. Rider surveys and experience with service disruptions indicate that in typical conditions, 10-40% of transit trips would otherwise be made as automobile passengers, and about half of these are rideshare trips (passengers in vehicles that would be making the trip anyway), meaning that 5-20% of transit trips substitute for chauffeured trips. Travel and rider surveys can help determine the portion of such trips in a particular situation.



Congestion Reduction

Traffic Congestion consists of the incremental delay, stress, vehicle operating costs and pollution that each additional vehicle imposes on other road users. A typical urban street lane can carry up to 500-1,000 vehicles per hour, and a typical highway lane can carry up to 1,800-2,300 vehicles per hour. Congestion develops when traffic volumes approach these limits. When roads are full, even modest mode shifts can provide significant congestion reductions. For example, reducing congested roadway traffic volumes 5% can reduces delays 10-30%.


Transit can provide significant congestion reduction benefits, even if it only carries a small portion of total regional travel. Transit tends to be most effective on congested urban corridors where travel is concentrated and roadway capacity expansion is particularly costly. Expanding such urban roadways tends to provide little long-term congestion reduction benefit, due to latent demand, and it often increases other transportation problems such as downstream congestion. For example, increasing highway capacity adds traffic to surface streets, increasing local traffic congestion. As a result, planners recognize the increasing importance of transit and ridesharing to address roadway congestion problems.


Most congestion cost studies only consider delays that vehicle traffic imposes on other motor vehicle users. Roads and vehicle traffic also cause non-motorized travel delay, called the “barrier effect” or “severance” (Litman 2009). Such costs can be significant in urban areas where transit travel is most common. On some urban streets there are as many pedestrians as motorists. This suggests that transit improvements that reduce surface street traffic volumes provide additional benefits by improving pedestrian mobility and safety, which are overlooked in conventional congestion cost analysis.


Measuring Congestion Reduction Benefits

There are several ways to measure congestion reduction benefits that result from reduced vehicle traffic (TRB, 1997). One approach is to model total passenger travel time with and without a transit program, and calculate the travel time and vehicle operating cost savings (ECONorthwest and PBQD 2002). The Texas Transportation Institute uses a similar method to calculate congestion reduction value of transit (TTI 2003). Another approach is to calculate the costs of increasing roadway capacity to achieve a given congestion reduction, and divide that by the number of peak-period vehicle-miles. These methods require modeling each option, and current transportation models are often not very accurate at predicting the travel impacts of a transit project.


An easier approach is to assign a dollar value to reduced automobile travel, typically estimated at 10-30¢ per urban-peak vehicle-mile, and more under highly congested conditions (Litman 2009). Congestion benefits should reflect net impacts, that is, the reduction in automobile trips minus any additional transit impacts. Under typical conditions buses impose congestion costs equivalent to 1.5 cars on highway and 4.5 cars on surface streets, so net benefits occur when more than about three trips shift from automobile to transit. For example, if a bus carries 16 passengers under urban-peak conditions, and 8 of the passengers would otherwise travel by automobile (either driving themselves or chauffeured), the congestion reduction benefit is (8-3) x $0.25 = $1.25 per vehicle-mile.


Where transit provides significant travel time savings compared with driving on parallel highways (for example, with grade-separated rail transit or busways) it is possible to calculate the resulting reduction in congestion delays. For example, if average door-to-door travel times by automobile are 30-minutes per peak-period trip, and a proposed transit service will provide 25-minute average trip times, the transit service can be expected to reduce average travel times by approximately 5-minutes per trip for all users. Travel time cost values can be applied (“Travel Time Costs,” Litman 2009).


Studies described in Evaluating Nonmotorized Transport and “The Barrier Effect” (Litman 2009) indicate that barrier effect costs average about 2¢ per urban-peak car-mile, and about 1.3¢ under urban off-peak conditions. As with vehicle congestion, a bus represents about 3 passenger car equivalents. 


Table 10 shows the recommended congestion cost values.


Table 10          Recommended Congestion Cost Values (Per Vehicle-Mile)


Urban Peak

Urban Off-Peak

Vehicle Congestion Costs



Pedestrian Congestion Costs


Total Congestion Costs





Parking Cost Savings

Shifts from automobile to transit travel reduces Parking costs. Reduced vehicle ownership reduces residential parking demand (including on-street parking demand in residential areas), and reduced vehicle trips reduces non-residential parking demand, such as commercial parking requirements. This benefit can manifest itself as user cost savings where parking is priced, reduced parking congestion and increased convenience to motorists, and reductions in the need for businesses and governments to subsidize parking facilities. Reduced parking demand can also provide indirect benefits by reducing the amount of land needed for parking facilities, allowing more clustered and infill development. These land use benefits are discussed in more detail in a later chapter.


Measuring Parking Cost Savings

Parking cost savings can be calculated by multiplying reduced automobile round trips times average cost per parking space. These values will vary depending on conditions. Parking tends to be expensive and in limited supply under urban-peak conditions where shifts from driving to transit are most common, so transit tends to provide significant parking cost savings. In suburban and rural areas, parking may be inexpensive and abundant so there is less short-term benefit. Where parking is priced, parking cost savings go to users rather than businesses. The Parking Evaluation chapter provides detailed instructions for calculating parking cost savings. These average about $5.00 per day under urban conditions and $2.00 per day under suburban conditions.


Dividing these values in half to reflect individual trips, and assuming that most peak-period trips are to urban destination, and off-peak trips tend to be to more suburban destination, default values are $2.18 per peak trip and $0.84 per off-peak trip. The higher cost of peak-period trips also reflects the fact that they tend to be commute trips, in which a car would be parked all day, while more off-peak trips are for errands with shorter parking requirements.



Safety, Health and Security Impacts

Transit use can affect Safety, Health and Security in several ways.


Traffic Safety

Transit is a relatively safe travel mode (Litman 2016). Transit passengers have about one-tenth the fatality rate as car occupants, and even considering risks to other road users transit causes less than half the total deaths per passenger-mile as automobile travel. Since risks to other road users is hardly affected by increased occupancy, average crash costs tend to decline with increased vehicle occupancy.


Health Impacts

Inadequate physical activity contributes to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis and some cancers. Many health experts believe that increased active transportation (walking and cycling) is one of the most practical ways to increase community Health and Fitness (AJHP, 2003). Most transit trips involve walking or cycling links, so transit use tends to increase physical activity. Efforts to encourage transit, reduce automobile traffic, and create transit oriented development often improve pedestrian and cycling conditions, which can further increase fitness and health.


Personal Security

Personal security refers to freedom from assault, theft and vandalism. Transit travel is sometimes thought to increase personal security risks to passengers and transit station neighbors, but these do not necessarily represent an increase in risk, since motorists also encounter personal security threats, such as car thefts, road rage, and aggressive driving.


These risks can be reduced by programs to Address Security Concerns. Transit improvements and TDM strategies that encourage transit use tend to increase rider security, because busy pedestrian facilities and transit waiting areas tend to be self-patrolling (fellow transit riders discourage and report crimes), and increased ridership can justify more safety programs. Although an individual may perceive that transit travel reduces personal security, increased transit use by responsible people tends to reduce overall risks to the community.


Measuring Safety, Health and Security Impacts

Accident costs and health risks are often monetized for public policy analysis (Litman, 2003). Although an individual’s life has essentially infinite value (most people would not give up their life for any size monetary payment), many private and public decisions involve tradeoffs between risk and financial costs. For example, when consumers decide whether to pay extra for safety options such as air bags, and when communities allocate funds for services such as law enforcement, fire protection, and medical services, they are essentially placing a price on marginal changes in human safety and health.


Transit provides greater safety benefits if it leverages additional traffic reductions, as described in the “Traffic Impacts” chapter of this guide. If each passenger-mile of transit travel reduces two to four vehicle-miles of travel, as some estimates indicate, each transit passenger-mile provides an additional 20-40¢ in crash cost savings.



Roadway Costs

Roadway costs include road maintenance, construction and land, and various traffic services such as planning, policing, emergency services and lighting. These costs are affected by vehicle weight, size and speed. Heavier vehicles impose more road wear, and larger and faster vehicles require more road space. These costs are not necessarily marginal. For example, a 10% reduction in vehicle traffic does not necessarily cause a 10% reduction in roadway costs. In urban areas with significant congestion problems and high land values, even a modest reduction in traffic volumes can provide large savings.


Where a transit project avoids or defers the need for major highway capacity expansion, the avoided costs can be considered a benefit of transit. Urban highway capacity expansion typically Costs $4-10 million per lane-mile for land acquisition, lane pavement and intersection reconstruction. This represents an annualized cost of $200,000-500,000 per lane-mile (assuming a 7% interest rate over 20 years). Dividing this by 4,000 to 8,000 additional peak-period vehicles for 250 annual commute days indicates a cost of 10-50¢ per additional peak-period vehicle-mile.


Measuring Roadway Costs and Benefits

Table 11 summarizes cost impacts of automobile to transit shifts. Where vans and small buses replace driving on local street, roadway cost savings typically average 1-3¢ per reduced automobile-mile. Where full-size buses operate on local streets, there is probably little or no roadway cost savings. Where buses operate on major roadways designed to accommodate heavy vehicles, roadway costs are reduced. Where urban automobile travel shift to rail transit, savings typically average about 5¢ per vehicle-mile reduced, or 2¢ per mile net costs taking into account fuel tax revenues). If a transit service or improvement avoids or defers the need for a specific highway project, avoided costs can be calculated. Such savings typically average 15-50¢ per reduced urban-peak automobile-mile.


Table 11          Roadway Cost Impacts of Automobile To Transit Shifts



Cost Impact

Road wear

Costs of road deterioration due to vehicle traffic, road repair costs, and increased strength during road construction to minimize deterioration.

Buses tend to increase these costs due to heavy axle weights.

Lane size

Incremental costs of wider lanes required to accommodate larger vehicles. Generally set to accommodate trucks and service vehicles.

Bus service may increase lane requirements in some locations.

Traffic services

Roadway planning, traffic controls, policing, lighting, etc.

Because these costs are based on traffic volumes, they tend to decline.

Traffic capacity

Costs of adding traffic lanes, improving intersections and other measures to accommodate increased traffic volumes and reduce traffic congestion.

Can significantly reduce these costs. This impact is reflected on congestion costs values.



Energy Conservation and Emission Reductions

Transit can provide Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction benefits, and other environmental benefits such as reduced impervious surface (TCRP 2012). Chester and Horvath (2008) found that transit modes tend to have significantly lower lifecycle energy and emissions than automobile travel. Increased transit use is associated with lower per capita transportation energy use (Newman and Kenworthy 1999; ICF 2008; NCTR 2011). Marginal energy conservation and emission reduction benefits depend on transport impacts, travel conditions, and the type of transit vehicles used.


·         Strategies that increase diesel bus mileage on routes with low load factors (such as suburban and off-peak routes) may increase total energy consumption and emissions.


·         Strategies that shift travel from automobile to transit using existing transit vehicle capacity (with little or no increase in transit vehicle-miles) reduce energy consumption and emissions.


·         Strategies that improve fuel consumption or reduce emission rates of transit vehicles (for example, retrofitting older diesel buses with cleaner engines or alternative fuels) can provide energy conservation and emission reduction benefits.


·         Strategies that reduce the total amount of congested driving (by either reducing vehicle mileage or the amount of congestion) tend to provide particularly large energy conservation and emission reduction benefits.


·         Strategies that create more accessible land use patterns, and so reduce per capita vehicle mileage, can provide large energy conservation and emission reduction benefits.



Energy Conservation

Under current conditions, U.S. transit vehicles consume about the same energy per passenger-mile as cars, although less than vans, light trucks and SUVs. This reflects low current transit load factors. Increasing ridership on existing transit vehicles consumes little additional energy. A bus with seven passengers is about twice as energy efficient as an average automobile, and a bus with 50 passengers is about ten times as energy efficient. Rail transit systems tend to be about three times as energy efficient as diesel bus transit. New hybrid buses are about twice as energy efficient as current direct drive diesel (General Motors 2003).


Air Emission Impacts

Quantifying emission impacts of a shift from automobile to transit is challenging because there are several different types of pollutants, and many possible permutations of vehicles, engines and driving conditions. As with energy consumption, current average transit emissions are relatively high in the U.S. due to low occupancy rates, but additional riders contribute minimal additional emissions so strategies that increase ridership with less than proportional increases in vehicle mileage can provide benefits.


Older diesel engines have relatively high emission rates, but these are declining due to improved emission controls. Between 1987 and 2004, allowable emission rates have been reduced about 80%. Many transit vehicles are being converted to cleaner fuels (CNG, LPG or alcohol). Hybrid electric bus drive systems are claimed to reduce particulate and hydrocarbon emissions 90% and NOx 50% compared with conventional diesels (GM, 2003). Electric vehicles produce minimal emissions.


Noise Impacts

Traffic noise is a moderate to large cost in urban areas (“Noise Costs,” Litman 2009). Conventional buses are noisy due to their relatively large engines and low power to weight ratio. A typical diesel bus produces the noise equivalent of 5 to 15 average automobiles, depending on conditions (Delucchi and Hsu 1998). Staiano (2001) concluded that light rail is somewhat quieter than a diesel bus, and electric trolley buses are significantly quieter. Hybrid buses are much quieter than direct drive diesel. If a bus displaces just one unusually noisy vehicle (for example, a bus rider would have ridden a noisy motorcycle or driven a car with a faulty muffler or high volume stereo), it can reduce noise overall. If residents walk rather than drive to transit stops, local street noise is reduced. This suggests that diesel bus noise costs per trip are probably about the same as for automobile travel, and hybrid and electric transit reduces overall noise costs.


Water Pollution

Motor vehicles contribute to water pollution due to leaks from engines and brake systems, during fuel distribution, and waste fluids (such as used crankcase oil) that are disposed of inappropriately. Transit travel tends to produce less water pollution because it requires fewer vehicles, and they tend to be maintained better than private vehicles.


Measuring Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction Benefits

Computer Models can predict the impacts of transport energy conservation and emission reduction strategies (Transportation Air Quality Center Various studies monetize emission costs, and therefore the value of transport emission reductions, as described in Litman, 2003. These indicate that under typical urban conditions emission costs average 2-5¢ per vehicle-mile for a gasoline automobile, twice that for an SUV, van or light truck, and 10-30¢ per vehicle-mile for older diesel buses, with lower costs for buses with newer engines or alternative fuels. Table 12 summarizes estimated cost for various vehicles.


Table 12          Recommended Pollution Costs (Cents Per Vehicle-Mile)





Current Diesel Bus




New Diesel Bus (meets 2004 standards)



Hybrid Electric Bus

Average Car

SUV, Light Truck, Van


Average Automobile



This table indicates estimated average energy, air, noise and water pollution costs of various vehicles. “Average automobile” reflects a weighted average of cars, SUVs, light trucks and vans.



Since most new transit service will be provided by newer, cleaner buses, pollution reduction benefits can generally be calculated based on a shift from average automobile to new diesel or hybrid electric buses. As with other impacts, greater benefits result if transit improvements leverage an overall reduction in per-capita automobile mileage.



Travel Time Impacts

Shifts from driving to public transit can either increase or reduce users’ travel time costs, depending on circumstances. Where roads are congested and transit has separate right-of-way or other transit priority features, transit travel may be faster than driving. On the other hand, in many situations, transit travel takes more time than the same trip made by automobile, particularly when walking and waiting time are considered. However, this additional travel time is not necessarily an additional cost if transit riders experience less stress and can be more productive (they can rest or read). Walking, waiting and transit travel are particularly sensitive to traveler comfort (Litman 2008).


Numerous studies have investigated the value that consumers place on travel time and travel time savings (ECONorthwest and PBQD 2002; Litman 2009). Below are some of the factors affecting these values.


·         The cost of personal travel is usually estimated at one-quarter to one-half of prevailing wage rates. Costs tend to be higher for drivers (due to the stress they bear), and lower for passengers (who can relax or engage in other activities such as reading).


·         Travel time costs for drivers tend to increase with congestion, and for passengers if vehicles are crowded or uncomfortable. Unexpected delays impose high costs.


·         Costs tend to be lower for shorter trips and small travel time savings, and tend to increase for longer commutes (more than about 20 minutes).


·         Under pleasant conditions, walking and cycling can have positive value, but under unpleasant or unsafe conditions (for example, walking along a busy highway or waiting for a bus in a dirty and insecure area), time spent walking, cycling and waiting for transit has costs two or three times higher than time spent traveling.


·         Travel time costs tend to increase with income, and tend to be lower for children and people who are retired or unemployed. (Or, put differently, people with full-time jobs are generally willing to pay more for travel time savings.)


·         Personal preferences vary. Some people prefer driving while others prefer transit or walking, as reflected in their travel time cost values.



These factors have important implications for evaluating public transit improvements. Strategies that increase transit speeds and reliability provide direct benefits to users, particularly if they provide an alternative to driving in congested conditions. Strategies that increase transit user comfort, security and prestige can reduce travel time costs even if they don’t reduce the amount of time actually spent in travel, because they reduce per-minute costs. Strategies that improve access to transit, for example by making it easier to walk or cycle to transit stops, also reduce travel time costs. Travelers who shift from driving to transit in response to transit improvements or other positive incentives (such as financial benefits to transit users) can benefit overall, even if transit trips take more time.


Measuring Travel Time Costs and Benefits

The value of travel time changes can be calculated using a comprehensive travel time cost framework that takes into account the factors described above. Travel time should be measured door-to-door, taking into account each trip link, including time spent walking and waiting. Conventional transportation Models are generally not very sensitive to qualitative factors, and therefore tend to undervalue transit improvements that improve rider comfort, convenience and access speed.



Land Use Impacts

Transit can help achieve various Land Use Planning objectives by reducing the amount of land that must be paved for roads and parking facilities in an area, and providing a catalyst for more compact urban redevelopment (Banister and Thurstain-Goodwin 2011; Litman 1995; TCRP 2012). Transit is an important component of Smart Growth, which refers to policies designed to create more resource efficient and accessible land use patterns. Table 13 lists potential smart growth benefits.


Table 13          Smart Growth Benefits (Land Use Evaluation)




Reduced development and public service costs.

Consumer transportation cost savings.

Economies of agglomeration.

More efficient transportation.

Improved transportation choice, particularly for nondrivers.

Improved housing choices.

Community cohesion.

Greenspace and wildlife habitat preservation.

Reduced air pollution.

Reduce resource consumption.

Reduced water pollution.

Reduced “heat island” effect.

This table summarizes various benefits to society of smart growth development patterns.



Transit-oriented development can provide economic benefits by improving accessibility, reducing transport costs, and providing economies of agglomeration, as described in the next section of this guide. In some cases, increased property values near transit stations can offset most or all transit subsidy costs (RICS, 2002; Smith and Gihring, 2003). Even people who do not use transit can benefit from these land use patterns.


Measuring Land Use Impacts

Various methods described in Litman (2005) can be used to quantify some of the land use impacts associated with transit. A more qualitative approach is to identify a community’s land use development goals and objectives (based on community plans and other official documents), and rate each transportation option in terms of effects on them. For example, many communities have goals to encourage infill development, create more multi-modal communities, protect and redevelop existing neighborhoods, improve walking conditions, and preserve greenspace. Transit improvements can help achieve these objectives, particularly if implemented as part of an integrated community development program.



Economic Development Impacts

Transit can provide various Economic Development benefits (ECONorthwest and PBQD 2002; Litman 2015).


Direct Expenditures

Because transit is labor intensive, transit expenditures tend to provide more jobs and local business activity than most other transportation investments. A million dollars spent on public transit typically generates 30-60 jobs (ECONorthwest and PBQD 2002; APTA 2003). A typical set of transit investments creates 19% more jobs than the same amount spent on a typical set of road and bridge projects (STPP 2004).


Consumer Expenditures

Transit supports economic development by shifting consumer expenditures. Residents of cities with quality transit systems tend to spend less on transportation overall, as illustrated below (also see Newman and Kenworthy 1999). For example, residents of cities with large, well-established rail transit systems spend an average of $2,808 on personal vehicles and transit (12.0% of their total household expenditures), compared with $3,332 in cities that lack rail systems (14.9% of total household expenditures), despite higher incomes and longer average commute distances in rail cities.


Consumer expenditures on vehicles and fuel provide relatively little employment or business activity per dollar because they are capital intensive and most of their value is imported from other areas. One study found that each 1% of travel shifted from automobile to transit in San Antonio, Texas increases regional income about $2.9 million (5¢ per mile shifted), adding 226 regional jobs.


Land Use Efficiencies

As described earlier, transit tends to create higher density, more accessible land use patterns, which tends to increase regional productivity (Litman 1995; Coffey and Shearmur 1997). One published study found that doubling a county-level density index is associated with a 6% increase in state-level productivity (Haughwout 2000). Although these impacts are difficult to measure and may partly reflect economic transfers, there may be large net economic development benefits in many circumstances. Land use efficiency benefits may be indicated by increased property values near transit stations (RISC 2002; Smith and Gihring 2003).


Productivity Gains

Transit services can increase economic productivity by improving access to education and employment (as discussed in the Mobility Benefits section), reducing traffic congestion, roads and parking facility costs, accidents and pollution (as discussed in the Efficiency Benefits section), by increasing land use efficiencies (as discussed in the Land Use section), and by supporting certain industries, such as tourism. For example, transit services may benefit a restaurant by increasing the pool of available employees and reducing absenteeism from vehicle failures, reducing employee parking costs, and by providing mobility for some tourists. Similarly, a delivery company may be more productive if transit reduces traffic congestion. A study by Leigh, Scott and Cleary (1999, Appendix K) concludes that transit increases economic growth in Colorado by about 4% over what would otherwise occur.


Supports Strategic Economic Development Objectives

Transit services can support specific strategic economic development objectives, such as tourism. For example, bus or trolley systems can be designed to serve visitors and provide access to major sport and cultural attractions, and historic train stations can be a catalyst for downtown redevelopment. This can be considered a special type of productivity gain often overlooked with conventional economic evaluation methods.


Transit System Efficiency Improvements

Many transit improvements increase system efficiency. Transit priority and improved payment systems increase operating speed and reduce delays, reducing operating costs. Many transit costs are fixed, so increased ridership reduces unit costs, particularly if ridership increases when there is excess capacity. Transit services experiences efficiencies and network effects. As per-capita ridership increases the system can expand, increasing service frequency, coverage, and operating hours, and transit can be more integrated with other transportation system features (for example, more businesses will choose to locate near transit).


For these reasons, strategies that increase transit ridership can increase service efficiency and quality. Transit systems in cities with higher-quality transit systems and higher levels of per capita transit ridership tend to have lower transit operating costs, higher cost recovery, and lower per capita transportation expenditures than more automobile-dependent cities (Litman 2015).



Measuring Economic Development Impacts

A variety of techniques can be used to measure different types of economic development impacts, including transportation-land use Models, benefit-cost analysis, input-output models, economic forecasting models, econometric models, case studies, surveys, real estate market analysis and fiscal impact analysis (Leigh, Scott and Cleary 1999; Bruun 2007). The table below summarizes categories of benefits and how they can be measured.


Table 14          Economic Development Impacts



How It Can Be Measured

Employment and Business Activity

Increased employment and business activity resulting from expenditures on transit services.

Local expenditures on transit services times multipliers from a regional Input-Output table. “New” money brought into a region.

Consumer Expenditures

Consumer expenditures shifted from vehicles and fuel to more locally-produced goods.

Consumer expenditure shifts, evaluated using an Input-Output table to determine net change in regional employment and business activity.

Land Use Efficiencies

Increased accessibility and clustering, providing agglomeration efficiencies.

Changes in property values around transit stations.

Productivity Gains

Improved access to education and jobs, and reduced costs to businesses.

Methods described in mobility, efficiency and land use benefits sections, with emphasis on employment gains and businesses savings.

Strategic Economic Development

Transit facilities and services support strategic development objectives.

Role of transit in community’s identity supporting strategic industrial development.

Transit System Efficiency

Reduced unit costs and improved services.

Estimates of per capita transportation cost savings provided by public transit services.

Transit improvements may provide various types of economic benefits and evaluation techniques.



It is important to avoid double-counting these benefits, or counting economic transfers as net economic gains. For example, the productivity gains of more accessible land use should be counted as land use benefits or economic benefits, but not both. On the other hand, it is appropriate to highlight ways that transit can support particular economic development objective. For example, if businesses in an area report difficulty finding lower-wage employees, improving transit or providing special welfare-to-work services may help address this problem. Similarly, where downtown growth is constrained by traffic and parking congestion, transit improvements can be identified as part of the redevelopment program.


Impact Summary

Table 15 summarizes the categories of benefits and costs to consider in a comprehensive transit evaluation framework.


Table 15          Transit Impacts



Transit Service Costs

Financial costs of providing transit services


Direct payments by transit users.


Government expenses to provide transit services.

Existing User Impacts

Incremental benefits and costs to existing transit users (changes in travel speed, comfort, safety, etc. to existing transit users).

Mobility Benefits

Benefits from increased travel that would not otherwise occur.

Direct User Benefits

Direct benefits to users from increased mobility.

Public Services

Support for public services and cost savings for government agencies.


Increased productivity from improved access to education and jobs.


Improved mobility that makes people who are also economically, socially or physically disadvantaged relatively better off.

Option Value

Benefits of having mobility options available, in case they are ever needed.

Efficiency Benefits

Benefits from reduced motor vehicle traffic.

Vehicle Costs

Changes in vehicle ownership, operating and residential parking costs.


Reduced chauffeuring responsibilities by drivers for non-drivers.

Vehicle Delays

Reduced motor vehicle traffic congestion.

Pedestrian Delays

Reduced traffic delay to pedestrians.

Parking Costs

Reduced parking problems and non-residential parking facility costs.

Safety, Security and Health

Changes in crash costs, personal security and improved health and fitness due to increased walking and cycling.

Roadway Costs

Changes in roadway construction, maintenance and traffic service costs.

Energy and Emissions

Changes in energy consumption, air, noise and water pollution.

Travel Time Impacts

Changes in transit users’ travel time costs.

Land Use Impacts

Benefits from changes in land use patterns.

Transportation Land

Changes in the amount of land needed for roads and parking facilities.

Land Use Objectives

Supports land use objectives such as infill, efficient public services, clustering, accessibility, land use mix, and preservation of ecological and social resources.

Economic Development

Benefits from increased economic productivity and employment.


Jobs and business activity created by transit expenditures.

Shifted Expenditures

Increased regional economic activity due to shifts in consumer expenditures to goods with greater regional employment multipliers.

Agglomeration Economies

Productivity gains due to more clustered, accessible land use patterns.

Transportation Efficiencies

More efficient transport system due to economies of scale in transit service, more accessible land use patterns, and reduced automobile dependency.

Land Value Impacts

Higher property values in areas served by public transit.

This table summarizes potential transit benefits and costs identified in this section. These are impacts to consider when evaluating a particular transit policy or project.



Comparing Transit and Automobile Costs

Comparisons between transit and other modes should account for the type of service and their planning objectives. For efficiency-justified service (provided to minimize economic costs such as congestion, facility costs, accidents and pollution) transit and automobile transport can be compared using measures of cost effectiveness, such as costs per passenger-mile or benefit/cost ratio, to identify the least-cost option. In that case, there is no particular reason to subsidize transit more than automobile travel.


However, for equity-justified service (providing basic mobility to disadvantaged people) there are reasons to subsidize transit more than automobile travel, because transit bears additional costs to accommodate people with disabilities, and many non-drivers have low incomes, so greater public subsidies are justified on equity grounds. Since many of these people cannot drive, analysis must include the cost of a driver, so transit should be compared with taxi costs, or a combination of taxi and chauffeured automobile travel, taking into account the value of time by family members and friends who drive. Below are common errors made when comparing transit and automobile costs and benefits.


·         Confusing efficiency and equity objectives. Because transit services are justified for both efficiency and equity objectives, it is important to consider these objectives separately in economic analysis. Some efficiency-justified services may seem inequitable (for example, premium services to attract commuters out of their cars), and some equity-justified services may seem inefficient (such as special services and features to accommodate people with disabilities, and off-peak service to provide basic mobility).


·         Comparing average rather than marginal costs. When comparing automobile and transit investments, some analysts use generic average costs, ignoring the greater efficiency of transit and higher costs of automobile travel under urban-peak conditions.


·         Ignoring parking costs. Economic analysis often ignores the parking cost savings that result from reduced automobile ownership and use.


·         Underestimating vehicle cost savings. Economic analysis often considers only fuel, oil, tire wear and tolls when calculating the savings from reduced driving, ignoring additional savings from reduced vehicle ownership and mileage-based depreciation savings.


·         Undervaluing safety and health benefits. Economic analysis often ignores safety and health benefits from reduced accidents and increased physical activity caused by shifts from automobile to transit.


·         Ignoring transportation diversity benefits. There are benefits to having a diverse transport system that are often overlooked, including improved mobility for non-drivers, consumer savings and choice, increased efficiency, increased system flexibility and resilience.


·         Ignoring non-drivers interests. Transportation planning sometimes assumes that everybody has access to an automobile, giving little consideration to the needs of non-drivers, or the negative impacts that increased vehicle traffic and automobile-oriented land use have on pedestrians, cyclists and transit users.


·         Ignoring generated traffic impacts. Failure to consider the effects of generated traffic tends to overstate the benefits of highway capacity expansion and understate the benefits of alternative solutions, particularly grade separated transit (Litman, 2001).


·         Ignoring strategic land use objectives. Transit tends to support land use objectives such as reduced sprawl and urban redevelopment.


·         Ignoring construction impacts. Transport projects, particularly highway construction, often cause delays and accident risk, and displace residents and businesses. These can offset a significant portion of the project benefits.


·         Undervaluing congestion reductions. Transit can provide significant long-term congestion reductions when it is faster than driving, but this impact is often overlooked.


·         Ignoring consumer preferences. Some people prefer using alternative modes and will choose them over driving even if they are slower. This benefit is sometimes overlooked, and lower travel time costs for such travelers are sometimes overlooked in modeling.


·         Ignoring strategies for increasing transit benefits. A transit option that does not appear justified under current conditions may become cost effective if implemented as part of a coordinated program that includes ridership incentives and transit oriented development



Examples and Case Studies


Rail Transit Service Travel Impacts (Boarnet and Houston 2013)

The Exposition (Expo) Line is a light rail line in the Los Angeles metropolitan area that extends south and west from downtown Los Angeles. Phase I which opened in 2012, runs 8.7 miles from downtown Los Angeles westward to Culver City. This research project enrolled experimental households, within ½ mile of a new Expo Line station, and control households, living beyond ½ mile from the station. In fall of 2011, those households were asked to track their travel for seven days, recording daily odometer readings for all household vehicles and logging trips by travel mode and day for each household member 12 years or older. In approximately half of the households, an adult also carried a geographic positioning device (GPS) and an accelerometer, to measure travel and physical activity. The same households were invited to complete the seven day travel study again in fall, 2012, after the Expo Line opened. In total, 204 households (103 in the experimental neighborhoods, 101 in control neighborhoods) completed before and after travel tracking. The study found the following results:



Comparing Transit Service Performance: Sacramento and Columbus

A study by Schumann (2005) compares transit system performance in two similar size cities. The Sacramento Regional Transit District ( began building a Light Rail Transit system in 1985, while the Central Ohio Transit Authority ( Columbus failed in its efforts establish a similar system in Columbus, Ohio and so only offers bus transit. During the following 17 years, transit service and ridership increased significantly in Sacramento, but declined in Columbus, while operating costs per passenger-mile increased much more in Columbus than in Sacramento, as indicated in the table below.


Table 16          Columbus and Sacramento Transit Performance (Schumann, 2005)














County Population (000)









Unlinked trips (000)









Trips per capita









Passenger miles (000)









Passenger miles per capita









Transit vehicles









Revenue vehicle miles









Operating expenses ($000)









Constant operating expenses (2002 $000)












Constant operating expenses per passenger-mile 2002$









CO = Columbus; SA = Sacramento; SA/CO = Sacramento/Columbus; 1985 to 2002 consumer price index change = 1.672.



In addition, voters appear more willing to support dedicated funding for transit systems that include rail transit service. In 1988, a year after the first rail line began operations, Sacramento country voters approved a referendum which provided sales tax funding to operate and expand the transit system. The article’s author argues that Sacramento’s first rail “starter” line gained public support for continual transit service improvements.


Out of four Columbus area transit funding referenda between 1986 and 1995, only one passed. As a result of funding shortfalls the transit system has raised fares and reduced service, which helps explain the decline in transit ridership. The author argues that, had Columbus had a rail line in the 1980s there would probably have been more support for public transit funding, leading to a more attractive system and higher ridership now.



International Urban Transportation Planning (JICA 2011)

The report, Research on Practical Approach for Urban Transport Planning by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) summarize the Agency’s research on the factors that affect public transit demand and system efficiency, and therefore the type of transit system most suited to various types of cities. It includes detailed analysis of the relationships between factors including city size and growth rates, population density, income or GDP, vehicle ownership, mode share, transit service type (metro rail, Bus Rapid Transit, and conventional bus), and types of urban transportation problem (traffic congestion, high accident rates, pollution, lack of public transit service, crowded transit and social inequity), based on comprehensive data from 398 major cities around the world, including 65 cities where JICA has conducted helped develop urban transport master plans. This information is used to help provide guidelines to determine, for example, what cities should develop metro rail or BRT systems and other urban transportation improvement strategies.



Calgary CTrain Light Rail (Hubbell and Colquhoun, 2006)

Calgary’s CTrain system was first established in the 1980s, when the city had a population of about half-million residents, and has grown with the city. After 25 years of development, LRT has become the backbone of the Calgary Transit system and ridership has increased dramatically over the past decade as a result of comprehensive, coordinated policies to manage urban form, downtown parking supply, and ensure balanced investment in roadway and transit infrastructure. Integration of the LRT system with other modes of travel has created an environment which supports further development of the transit market. Experience has demonstrated that LRT systems can be successfully integrated into the right-of-way of city streets and The City has adopted strategies which give priority to LRT vehicles in mixed traffic environments. The success of Calgary’s LRT system is best reflected by the fact that LRT expansion and increased capital investment in transit is consistently a top-of-mind request in all Citizen Satisfaction Surveys which The City has undertaken in the last decade. City Council has responded by committing significant funding to LRT development.



BRT Evaluation (EMBARQ 2013)

The report, Social, Environmental And Economic Impacts Of BRT Systems summarizes research regarding BRT performance, costs and impacts, including evidence from four case studies in Bogota, Columbia; Mexico City; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Istanbul, Turkey. The analysis compared construction costs with transit efficiency gains, travel time savings, environment and health benefits. It indicates that BRT projects can provide net positive benefits to society and can be socially profitable investments. Trends at the local, national and international levels suggest continued growth of BRT worldwide.


Table 17          BRT Benefits (EMBARQ 2013)


How does BRT achieve the benefit?

Empirical Evidence

Travel time savings


Segregated busways separate BRT buses from mixed traffic;

Pre-paid level boarding and high-capacity buses speed passenger boarding;

Traffic signal management and high-frequency bus service minimize waiting times

Johannesburg BRT users save on average 13 minutes each way (Venter and Vaz 2011)

The typical Metrobüs passenger in Istanbul saves 52 minutes per day (Alpkokin and Ergun 2012)

GHG and local air pollutant emissions reductions


Reduce VKT by shifting passengers to highcapacity BRT buses

Replace/scrap older, more polluting traditional vehicles

Introduce newer technology BRT buses

Better driver training leads to improved driving cycles which have lower fuel consumption and emissions


In Bogota, the implementation of TransMilenio combined with new regulations on fuel quality is estimated to save nearly 1 million tCO2 per year (Turner et. al. 2012).

Mexico City’s Metrobús Line 1 achieved significant reductions in carbon monoxide, benzene and particulate matter (PM2.5) inside BRT buses, traditional buses and mini-buses (Wöhrnschimmel et. al.. 2008)

Road safety improvements – reductions in fatalities and crashes


Improve pedestrian crossings

Reduce VKT by shifting passengers to highcapacity BRT buses

Reduces interaction with other vehicles by segregating buses from mixed traffic

BRT can change drivers behaviors by reducing on-the-road competition and improving training

Bogota’s TransMilenio has contributed to reductions in crashes and injuries on two of the system’s main corridors (Bocarejo et. al. 2012)

On average, BRTs in the Latin American context have contributed to a reduction in fatalities and injuries of over 40% on the streets where they were implemented.

Reduced exposure to air pollutants


Cleaner vehicle technologies and fuels lower concentration of ambient air pollution citywide or inside the BRT vehicles;

Reduce time passengers are exposed to air pollution at stations or inside the bus by reducing travel times.


After the implementation of TransMilenio, Bogota reported a 43% decline in SO2 emissions, 18% decline in NOx, and a 12% decline in particulate matter (Turner et. al. 2012).

By reducing emissions of local air pollutants, especially of particulate matter, Metrobús Line

1 in Mexico City would eliminate more than 6,000 days of lost work, 12 new cases of chronic bronchitis, and three deaths per year saving an estimated USD $3 million per year (INE 2006).

Increased physical activity


Spacing of BRT stations tend to require longer walking distances than all other motorized modes with the exception of Metro

Higher operation speeds increases passengers’ willingness to walk to stations

Mexico City’s Metrobús passengers walk on average an additional 2.75 minutes per day than previously

Users of the Beijing BRT have added 8.5 minutes of daily walking as a result of the BRT system



References and Resources for More Information


Md Aftabuzzaman, Graham Currie and Majid Sarvi (2010), “Evaluating the Congestion Relief Impacts of Public Transport in Monetary Terms,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 1-24; at Also see, “Exploring The Underlying Dimensions Of Elements Affecting Traffic Congestion Relief Impact Of Transit,” Cities, Vol. 28, Is. 1 (, February 2011, Pages 36-44.


Bhuiyan Alam, Hilary Nixon and Qiong Zhang (2015), Investigating The Determining Factors For Transit Travel Demand By Bus Mode In Us Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Mineta Transportation Institute (; at


AllTransit ( ) is a multi-facetted transit performance index system that provides quantitative data on transit connectivity, access, and frequency for 805 U.S. transit agencies. This information can be used transit service and transit-oriented development evaluation and planning.


Michael L. Anderson (2013), Subways, Strikes, and Slowdowns: The Impacts of Public Transit on Traffic Congestion, Working Paper No. 18757, National Bureau of Economic Research (; at


APTA (annual reports), Public Transportation Fact Book Statistics, American Public Transit Association (


APTA (2013), The Role of Transit in Support of High Growth Business Clusters in the U.S., American Public Transportation Association (; at


G.B. Arrington, et al. (2008), Effects of TOD on Housing, Parking, and Travel, Report 128, Transit Cooperative Research Program (; at


David Banister and Mark Thurstain-Goodwin (2011), “Quantification Of The Non-Transport Benefits Resulting From Rail Investment,” Journal of Transport Geography, Vol. 19, Is. 2, March, pp. 212-223; earlier version at

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


Eric Bruun (2007), Better Public Transit Systems, Planners Press (


Marlon G. Boarnet and Doug Houston (2013), The Exposition Light Rail Line Study: A Before-and-After Study of the Impact of New Light Rail Transit Service, University of California, University of Southern California (; at


Ralph Buehler and John Pucher (2010), “Making Public Transport Financially Sustainable,” Transport Policy, Vol. 18; at


Cambridge Systematics (1998), Economic Impact Analysis of Transit Investments: Guidebook for Practioners, Report 35, TCRP, Transportation Research Board (; at


Daniel G. Chatman (2013), “Does TOD Need the T?,” Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 79, No. 1, pp. 17-31 (DOI: 10.1080/01944363.2013.791008); at


Chun-Hung Peter Chen and George A. Naylor (2011), “Development of a Mode Choice Model for Bus Rapid Transit in Santa Clara County, California,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 14, No. 3, 41-61; at


Mikhail Chester and Arpad Horvath (2008), Environmental Life-cycle Assessment of Passenger Transportation: A Detailed Methodology for Energy, Greenhouse Gas and Criteria Pollutant Inventories of Automobiles, Buses, Light Rail, Heavy Rail and Air v.2, UC Berkeley Center for Future Urban Transport, (, Paper vwp-2008-2; at and


Matthew Coogan, et al. (2018), "Understanding Changes in Demographics, Preferences, and Markets for Public Transportation," Report 201, Transit Cooperative Research Program; at


CTOD (2009), Destinations Matter: Building Transit Success, Center for Transit Oriented Development, Reconnecting America (; at


CTOD (2010), Performance-Based Transit-Oriented Development Typology Guidebook, Center for Transit-Oriented Development (; at


CTS (2009a), Understanding the Impacts of Transitways: Demographic and Behavioral Differences between Hiawatha Light-Rail and Other Transit Riders, Transitway Impacts Research Program (TIRP),  Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota (; at


CTS (2009b), Understanding the Impacts of Transitways: The Hiawatha Line: Impacts on Land Use and Residential Housing Value, Transitway Impacts Research Program (TIRP),  Center for Transportation Studies, University of Minnesota (; at


Graham Currie and Alexa Delbosc (2013), “Exploring Comparative Ridership Drivers of Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail Transit Routes,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 47-65; at


CUTA (2010), The Economic Impact of Transit Investment: A National Survey, Canadian Urban Transportation (; at


Mark Delucchi and Shi-Ling Hsu (1998), “External Damage Cost of Noise Emitted from Motor Vehicles,” Journal of Transportation and Statistics, Vol. 1, No. 3, October 1998, pp. 1-24.


DfT (2006), Transport Analysis Guidance, Integrated Transport Economics and Appraisal, Department for Transport ( This website provides comprehensive guidance on how to identify problems, establish objectives, develop potential solutions, create a transport model for the appraisal of the alternative solutions, how to model highway and public transport, and how to conduct economic appraisal studies that meet DoT requirements.


Chhavi Dhingra (2011), Measuring Public Transport Performance- Lessons For Developing Cities, GIZ and the Sustainable Urban Transportation Project in Asia (; at


Richard Dowling, et al. (2008), Multimodal Level Of Service Analysis For Urban Streets, NCHRP Report 616, Transportation Research Board (; at; User Guide at


ECONorthwest and PBQD (2002), Estimating the Benefits and Costs of Public Transit Projects, TCRP Report 78, TRB (; at


Aaron Elias and Kamala Parks (2013), HCM Urban Streets Methodology: Bicyclist, Pedestrian, and Transit Passenger, TRB Webinar; at


EMBARQ (2012), Evaluate, Enable, Engage: Principles to Support Effective Decision Making in Mass Transit Investment Programs, EMBARQ (; at


EMBARQ (2013), Social, Environmental And Economic Impacts Of BRT Systems: Bus Rapid Transit Case Studies from Around the World, EMBARQ (; 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 and Richard H. Pratt (2007), Transit Oriented Development; Chapter 17, Travel Response To Transportation System Changes, TCRP Report 95, Transportation Research Board (; at


FDOT (2007), LOSPLAN Software, Florida Department of Transportation (


Fehr & Peers (2004), Direct Ridership Forecasting: Out of the Black Box, Fehr & Peers (; at


FTA (2007), Contractor Performance Assessment Report, Federal Transit Administration (; at


FTA (annual reports), National Transit Database, Federal Transit Administration (


Ranjit Godavarthy, Jeremy Mattson and Elvis Ndembe (2014), Cost-Benefit Analysis of Rural and Small Urban Transit, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, North Dakota State University, for the U.S. Department of Transportation (; at


Evan Gwee, Graham Currie and John Stanley (2011), Exploring International Variation in Approaches to Urban Rail Project Evaluation - Impact on Project Outcomes, Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting (; at


Chris A. Hale (2011), “New Approaches To Strategic Urban Transport Assessment,” Australian Planner, Vol. 48/3, 173-182; abstract at


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 (


Andrew F. Haughwout (2000), “The Paradox of Infrastructure Investment,” Brookings Review (, Summer 2000, pp. 40-43.


HDR|HLB (2009), TransDec: Urban Transit Cost-benefit Software Tool, Transport Canada (; at


Lyndon Henry and Dave Dobbs (2013), Comparative Examination of New Start Light Rail Transit, Light Railway, and Bus Rapid Transit Services Opened from 2000, Sustaining the Metropolis LRT and Streetcars for Super Cities, 12th National Light Rail Conference, Transportation Circular E-C177, Transportation Research Board (; at Also see


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


Walter Hook, Stephanie Lotshaw and Annie Weinstock (2013), More Development for Your Transit Dollar: An Analysis of 21 North American Transit Corridors, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy ( at


Michael Iacono, Kevin Krizek and Ahmed El-Geneidy (2008), Access to Destinations: How Close is Close Enough? Estimating Accurate Distance Decay Functions for Multiple Modes and Different Purposes, Report 2008-11, University of Minnesota (; at


ICF International (2008), The Broader Connection Between Public Transportation, Energy Conservation and Greenhouse Gas Reduction, American Public Transportation Association (; at


ICF (2010), Current Practices in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Savings from Transit: A Synthesis of Transit Practice, TCRP 84, TRB (; at


ITDP (2014), Best Practice in National Support for Urban Transportation, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (; at


ITDP (2016), People Near Transit: Improving Accessibility and Rapid Transit Coverage in Large Cities, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (; at


JICA (2011), The Research on Practical Approach for Urban Transport Planning, Japan International Cooperation Agency (; at


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


Todd Litman (1995), “Land Use Impact Costs of Transportation,” World Transport Policy & Practice, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 9-16; an updated version titled Evaluating Transportation Land Use Impacts is at the VTPI website (


Todd Litman (2006), Socially Optimal Transport Prices and Markets: Principles, Strategies and Impacts, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2001a), “Generated Traffic; Implications for Transport Planning,” ITE Journal, Vol. 71, No. 4, Institute of Transportation Engineers (, April, 2001, pp. 38-47; also at Victoria Transport Policy Institute ( 


Todd Litman (2001b), What’s It Worth? Life Cycle and Benefit/Cost Analysis for Evaluating Economic Value, Presented at Internet Symposium on Benefit-Cost Analysis, Transportation Association of Canada (; at


Todd Litman (2002), Light Rail Economic Opportunity Study, Island Tranformations (; at


Todd Litman (2004a), Rail Transit in America: Comprehensive Evaluation of Benefits, VTPI (; at; summarized in “Impacts of Rail Transit on the Performance of a Transportation System,” Transportation Research Record 1930, Transportation Research Board (, pp. 23-29.


Todd Litman (2004b), “Transit Price Elasticities and Cross-Elasticities,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 7, No. 2, ( 7-2 Litman.pdf), pp. 37-58; at


Todd Litman (2005), “Terrorism, Transit and Public Safety: Evaluating the Risks,” Journal of Public Transit, Vol. 8, No. 4 (, pp. 33-46.; at


Todd Litman (2007), “Evaluating Rail Transit Benefits: A Comment,” Transport Policy, Vol. 14, No. 1 (, January, pp. 94-97.


Todd Litman (2008), 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 (2008), Introduction to Multi-Modal Transport Planning, VTPI (; at


Todd Litman (2009), Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis Guidebook, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


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


Todd Litman (2010), Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits, American Public Transportation Association (; at


Todd Litman (2010), Contrasting Visions of Urban Transport: Critique of “Fixing Transit: The Case For Privatization”, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2010), The Selfish Automobile, Planetizen (; 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), Evaluating Public Transit as an Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction Strategy, presented at Aligning Environmental and Transportation Policies To Mitigate Climate Change Institute for Policy Integrity, 26 October 2011, New York University School of Law (; at


Todd Litman (2012), Smart Congestion Relief: Comprehensive Analysis of Traffic Congestion Costs and Congestion Reduction Benefits, paper P12-5310, Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting (; at


Todd Litman (2013), Toward More Comprehensive and Multi-modal Transport Evaluation, VTPI (; at; summarized in JOURNEYS, September 2013, pp. 50-58 (; at


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


Todd Litman (2014), Critique of “Transit Utilization and Traffic Congestion: Is There a Connection?” VTPI (; at


Todd Litman (2014), “Evaluating Public Transportation Local Funding Options,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 43-74 (; more complete version at


Todd Litman (2014), “A New Transit Safety Narrative,” Journal of Public Transportation (, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 114-135; at


Todd Litman (2015), Evaluating Public Transit Benefits and Costs, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


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


Todd Litman (2016), The Hidden Traffic Safety Solution: Public Transportation, American Public Transportation Association (; at


Todd Litman (2017), Evaluating Public Transit Criticism, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2017), Public Transportation’s Impact on Rural and Small Towns: A Vital Mobility Link, American Public Transportation Association (; at


Todd Litman and Steve Fitzroy (2006), Safe Travels: Evaluating Mobility Management Safety Benefits, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman and Tom Rickert (2005), Evaluating Public Transit Accessibility: ‘Inclusive Design’ Performance Indicators For Public Transportation In Developing Countries, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Donald W. Maley and Rachel Weinberger (2009), “Rising Gas Price and Transit Ridership: Case Study of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” Transportation Research Record 2139, Transportation Research Board (, pp. 183-188.


Katerina Moreland, et al. (2011), “Transit System Evaluation Process: From Planning to Realization,” ITE Journal (, Vol. 81, No. 10, pp. 33-39; at


NCTR (2011), Exploration of Transit's Sustainability Competitiveness, National Center for Transit Research at the University of South Florida (; at


Peter Newman and Jeffrey Kenworthy (1999), Sustainability and Cities; Overcoming Automobile Dependency, Island Press (


NZTA (2010), Economic Evaluation Manual, Volumes 1 and 2, New Zealand Transport Agency (; at


Ian W.H. Parry and Kenneth A. Small (2007), Should Urban Transit Subsidies Be Reduced? Discussion Paper 07-38, Resources for the Future (; at


Steven E. Polzin, Xuehao Chu and Vishaka Shiva Raman (2008), Exploration of a Shift in Household Transportation Spending from Vehicles to Public Transportation, Center for Urban Transportation Research (; at


Christopher Porter, Jonathan Lee, Taylor Dennerlein and Paula Dowell (2015), Selected Indirect Benefits Of State Investment In Public Transportation,  Research Results Digest 393, NCHRP Project 20-65, Task 52, National Cooperative Highway Research Program; at


PPIAF (2006), Urban Bus Toolkit: Tools and Options for Reforming Urban Bus Systems, World Bank supported Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (; at


Richard H. Pratt (1999), Traveler Response to Transportation System Changes, Interim Handbook, TCRP Web Document 12 (, DOT-FH-11-9579.


Richard Pratt and John Evans (2004), Bus Routing and Coverage: Traveler Response to Transport System Changes, Chapter 10; Report 95, Transit Cooperative Research Program; TRB ( at


Boris S. Pushkarev and Jeffrey M. Zupan (1997), Public Transportation & Land Use Policy, A Regional Planning Association Book, Indiana University Press (


Reconnecting America ( is a national organization that works to coordinate transportation networks and the communities they serve. Their Resource Center ( contains more than 500 research papers and reports related to TOD, tagged by subject.


John Luciano Renne (2007), Measuring The Performance Of Transit-Oriented Developments In Western Australia, Planning and Transport Research Centre of Western Australia and the Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy, Murdoch University; at


John Renne (2009), “Measuring the Success of Transit Oriented Development,” in Transit Oriented Development: Making It Happen, Carey Curtis, John Renne and Luca Bertolini (Eds.) Ashgate (, pp. 241-255.


Tom Rickert (2010), Universal Access to Bus Rapid Transit: Design, Operation, And Working With The Community, Access Exchange International (; at


Paul Ryus, et al. (2010), A Methodology for Performance Measurement and Peer Comparison in the Public Transportation Industry, Report 141, Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), TRB (; at


Thomas W. Sanchez (1999), “The Connection Between Public Transit and Employment,” Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 65, No. 3, Summer 1999, pp. 284-296; at


Carissa Schively, Meagan Beekman, Cynthia Carlson and Jenn Reed (2007), Enhancing Transportation: The Effects of Public Involvement in Planning and Design Processes, University of Minnesota (, for the American Institute of Architects; at


John Schumann (2005), “Assessing Transit Changes in Columbus, Ohio, and Sacramento, California: Progress and Survival in Two State Capitals, 1995-2002,” Transportation Research Record 1930, Transit: Intermodal Transfer Facilities, Rail, Commuter Rail, Light Rail, and Major Activity Center Circulation Systems, Transportation Research Board (, pp. 62-67.


Jay Shah and Bhargav Adhvaryu (2016), “Public Transport Accessibility Levels for Ahmedabad, India,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 19-35 (; at


Jeffery J. Smith and Thomas A. Gihring (2003), Financing Transit Systems Through Value Capture: An Annotated Bibliography, Geonomy Society (; at


Michael A. Staiano (2001), “Comparison of Light Rail and Bus Transit Noise Impact Estimates Per Federal and Industry Criteria,” Transportation Research Record 1756, TRB (, pp. 45-56.


STPP (2004), Setting the Record Straight: Transit, Fixing Roads and Bridges Offer Greatest Jobs Gains, Surface Transportation Policy Project (


Stephen G. Stradling, Michael Carreno, Tom Rye and Allyson Noble (2007), “Passenger Perceptions And The Ideal Urban Bus Journey Experience,” Transport Policy (, Vol. 14, No. 4, July 2007, pp. 283-292.


Brian D. Taylor and Camille Fink (2009), The Factors Influencing Transit Ridership: A Review and Analysis of the Ridership Literature, UCLA Department of Urban Planning, University of California Transportation Systems Center (; at


TCRP (2012), Assessing and Comparing Environmental Performance of Major Transit Investments, Transit Cooperative Research Program (; at


Adie Tomer, Elizabeth Kneebone, Robert Puentes, and Alan Berube (2011), Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program (; at


Transit Database ( provides interactive charts and tables, based on recent U.S. data.

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


UITP (2010), Report On Statistical Indicators Of Public Transport Performance In Sub-Saharan Africa, International Association of Public Transport (;


Ian Wallis, A. Lawrence and Neil Douglas (2013), Economic Appraisal of Public Transport Service Enhancements, Report 533, New Zealand Transport Agency (; at


Glen Weisbrod and Arlee Reno (2009), Economic Impact Of Public Transportation Investment, American Public Transportation Association (; at


Glen Weisbrod, et al. (2017), Practices for Evaluating the Economic Impacts and Benefits of Transit, TCRP Synthesis 128, Transportation Research Board (; at


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


World Transit Research Database for Transit Planners and Researchers ( is a web-based clearinghouse on transit research that provides references to research papers, reports, and research abstracts related to public transport planning.


WTI (2011), Montana Intercity Bus Service Study, Western Transportation Institute (; 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.




Encyclopedia Homepage

Send Comments


Victoria Transport Policy Institute

1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC,  V8V 3R7,  CANADA

Phone & Fax 250-360-1560

“Efficiency - Equity - Clarity”