Ridership Trends of New Start Rail Projects

This paper reports on the ridership trends of new start Light Rapid Transit (LRT) projects implemented in the last two decades. This paper updates data that was presented in 2003 by Polzin and Page (9th APTA/TRB Conference on Light Rail Transit). Since that time, a number of new systems have opened and several existing systems have expanded their current lines or opened new ones. This report utilizes the latest National Transit Data (NTD) data (2009) to analyze how existing systems have continued to evolve and how new systems are performing. These systems are colloquially referred to „new start‟ systems. The purpose of the research presented here is to look at the process of maturation of these systems in terms of ridership trends. Each system‟s ridership and system extent is looked at in terms of route miles and service miles. By reviewing ridership changes as the system grows in contrast to service supply, the research attempts to discern the impact of service maturation and synergies that might result from increased accessibility. This review of NTD data indicates that ridership trends for new start LRT projects matured relatively quickly with subsequent growth driven by system extent and service levels. The initial rapid maturation is no doubt partially attributable to the high levels of attention light rail lines receive when they are under development and implemented, and the inherent physical presence that LRT provides for transit. It is interesting to note that the LRT systems, even the more mature systems, are a modest share of the urban area‟s total transit service with the most successful systems providing approximately 40 percent of total regional transit trips. LRT investments may be very important to a community by stimulating attention and investment in public transit. LRT implementation has helped several communities expand public transit use and synergize the community to address other development and quality of life goals; however, it has not resulted in a transformation of travel in the service areas. Bus services remain critical components of the public transit system and even LRT system development has not made transit ridership growth easy.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 13p
  • Monograph Title: APTA Rail Conference 2011 Proceedings

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01357525
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 18 2011 3:27PM