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Secrets of success: assessing the large increases in transit ridership achieved by Houston and San Diego transit providers

Listed author(s):
  • Kain, John F.
  • Liu, Zvi

This paper summarizes and updates the findings from an earlier study by the same authors of transit systems in Houston (all bus) and San Diego (bus and light rail). Both systems achieved unusually large increases in transit ridership during a period in which most transit systems in other metropolitan areas were experiencing large losses. Based on ridership models estimated using cross section and time series data, the paper quantifies the relative contributions of policy variables and factors beyond the control of transit operators on ridership growth. It is found that large ridership increases in both areas are caused principally by large service increases and fare reductions, as well as metropolitan employment and population growth. In addition, the paper provides careful estimates of total and operating costs per passenger boarding and per passenger mile for Houston's bus operator and San Diego's bus and light rail operators. These estimates suggest that the bus systems are more cost-effective than the light rail system on the basis of total costs. Finally, the paper carries out a series of policy simulations to analyze the effects of transit funding levels and metropolitan development patterns on transit ridership and farebox recovery ratio.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.

Volume (Year): 33 (1999)
Issue (Month): 7-8 ()
Pages: 601-624

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Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:33:y:1999:i:7-8:p:601-624
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