Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - appraisal/evaluation, place - low density, mode - mass transit


Transit, Suburbs, Ridership, Public transit, Patronage (Transit ridership), Mass transit, Local transit, Improvements, Hubs, Demographics, Costs, Charlotte (North Carolina)


In 1998 Charlotte, North Carolina, considered a one-half-cent sales tax to improve transit service. One element of the expanded transit system proposes six new employment-centered hubs in suburban Charlotte, served by local circulator bus service and interhub connections. The likely ridership and costs of the multihub-based system are assessed. Population demographics in the areas immediately surrounding each hub are estimated using TransCAD 3.1. Ridership is estimated using equations relating per-capita ridership rates to automobile ownership and service (vehicle revenue hours) for existing routes and empirical ridership rates per vehicle hour for express and local circulator service. Scenarios are then tested on various levels of increased service. Results show that the new service, by itself, will add little to system ridership but will substantially increase the system deficit: for instance, adding about 44% more service solely as new circulator and interhub connections would raise ridership 14.0%, from 11.68 million to 13.31 million riders, while increasing the system's deficit 56.4% from $14.87 million to $23.26 million because the new service would generally serve low-ridership areas of the city. On the other hand, if existing service was also expanded along with the hub circulator service, ridership would expand substantially: a 100% increase in base service along with the new service would increase ridership 76%, to 20.6 million riders, and increase the system's deficit 173%, to $40.6 million. Taxpayers would pay about $2.90 for each new transit trip attracted.