The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning

Quantifying Effects of Spatial Coverage and Temporal Frequency of Transit Service on Ridership Transit

This study examines the effects of spatial coverage and temporal frequency on transit ridership to determine just which lever is most effective. This project funded by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). The research team for this project includes Dr. Reid Ewing, Dr. Guang Tian, and PhD student Torrey Lyons.

Ridership has long been studied, and the findings are concisely elucidated by Taylor & Fink (2003) when they say “To sum, transit ridership is largely, though not completely, a product of factors outside the control of transit managers.” While studies repeatedly examine the effects on ridership of common variables like gasoline price and fare price, few have looked with much scrutiny at the factors that are, in fact, within the capacity of transit agencies to control. Transit service provision has been found to affect ridership, but “service provision” is often nebulously defined, shedding little light onto how transit managers can best provide service that will create returns in the form of transit ridership. We use a cross-sectional study design with 157 regions around the United States. We employ structural equation modeling (SEM) to explain complex relationships that exist between interrelated variables. We find that both factors are strong predictors of transit ridership, with service frequency having a slightly larger impact.

Read our UDOT Report from November 2017