Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, mode - mass transit, mode - subway/metro, planning - surveys, ridership - forecasting, ridership - mode choice


Travel patterns, Transit, Trade off analysis, Strategies, Strategic planning, Scenarios, Public transit, Projections, Priorities, Objectives, Mode choice, Modal choice, Metropolitan Transit Development Board (San Diego, California), Mass transit, Market surveys, Market segmented groups, Local transit, Goals, Funding, Forecasting, Financing, Comparison studies, Choice of transportation, Alternatives analysis


Like most other transit agencies in the United States, the Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB) in San Diego, California, had never developed a strategic plan. Nevertheless, such plans are necessary for public agencies to better understand their present and potential roles in shaping the future of their respective metropolitan areas. MTDB conducted a review of other transit systems' strategic plans, particularly the strategic plans of transit systems overseas, to determine the characteristics of the most successful planning processes. It then embarked on an extensive market survey to learn why residents in its service area made the travel choices that they did. These proved to defy common stereotypes and led to the segmentation of the market into six discrete groups of travelers. By understanding the needs of each market segment and their respective travel patterns, the agency was then able to craft four service strategies aimed at appealing to the largest cross section of the region's residents. The MTDB board of directors was then presented with four alternative scenarios describing transit's potential role in the region over the next 20 years. Each scenario was associated with a different level of transit financing and influence over land use patterns and transit priority. By using the market research information, alternative transit concept plans were developed for each scenario and overall funding needs were identified. The process was completed in October 2000 with MTDB's selection of the most ambitious of the four scenarios, Transit First. Given the positive support from business, community, and environmental groups, this action signals a paradigm shift in the region's land use and transportation planning, reflecting the view that public transportation can and should play an increased role in meeting the region's mobility needs over the next 20 years.