This paper addresses the complex planning considerations for attracting ridership to transit systems, particularly light rail transit systems. Taking the viewpoint of a potential rider, the authors present some observations that lay the foundation for understanding ridership response. Users are not interested in technology per se but in the level of service the system provides. Level of service is a complex combination of many system attributes such as travel time, cost, comfort, and convenience. Different user groups (market segments) make different trade-offs among these attributes. They assign different relative weights or importance to each attribute. To attract maximum ridership, the system should be tailored to the particular needs and constraints of the market segments it is serving. No single system is superior for all market segments. The paper discusses the various level-of-service attributes and their relative importance to different market segments based on empirical evidence and attitude surveys. Although one cannot generalize because different market segments assign different relative weights to level-of-service attributes, the following rank ordering of attributes from most influential to least influential is most typically the case: out-of-vehicle travel time, in-vehicle travel time, cost, comfort, and safety. For work trips travel time reliability should be added as either the first or second most important attribute. The characteristic convenience is dismissed from this list as being too broad to be specifically and universally defined. The paper goes on to introduce disaggregate, behavioral, travel-demand models as an emerging analytical technique that the transit planner can use to more precisely address the problem of the ridership response of different market segments to different level-of-service packages. Examples of these models are then used to demonstrate how different prototypical households would respond to various technologies under various representative operating policies. Some conclusions are drawn on the situations in which light rail transit would appear to be the most attractive form of public transportation from the rider's point of view, and some suggestions are made on how to improve attraction of light rail transit ridership.

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    • This article is extracted from Light Rail Transit, Proceedings of a National Conference conducted by TRB and Sponsored by UMTA, Am Public Transit Assoc and U Penn, 23-25 June 1975. Payment in advance is requested. For handling charges add 5% for domestic and 10% for foreign orders. Distribution, posting, or copying of this PDF is strictly prohibited without written permission of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials in this PDF are copyrighted by the National Academy of Sciences. Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board (TRB)

    Washington, DC   
  • Authors:
    • Jessiman, William A
    • Kocur, George A
  • Conference:
  • Publication Date: 1975

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 126-146
  • Monograph Title: Light rail transit
  • Serial:

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00129820
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Apr 21 1981 12:00AM