Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - capacity, planning - surveys, planning - marketing/promotion, ridership - mode choice, policy - fares, policy - parking, mode - bus, mode - rail, mode - subway/metro, mode - taxi


Underground railways, Travel time, Taxicabs, Surveys, Subways, Ridership, Patronage (Transit ridership), Parking capacity, Parking, New York City Transit Authority, New York City Transit, Mode choice, Modal choice, Marketing, Journey time, Intracity bus transportation, Human comfort, Focus groups, Fares, Ease of use (Transit), Comfort, Choice of transportation, Cabs (Taxicabs), Bus transit, Availability (Transit)


Attracting customers to the bus and subway is an often-discussed goal for transit agencies. Current research methodologies such as travel demand, stated preference, and discrete choice models and opinion research are sometimes poorly suited to determining which types of service improvements, facility designs, or fare policy initiatives will be most effective in attracting potential customers. Drawing on elements of established methods, an approach is developed for use by New York City Transit focusing on travelers' actual experience of the subway, bus, automobile, taxi, and car service and their reasons for mode choice. Survey questions were developed from focus group findings that New Yorkers actively choose between competing modes on the basis of six major factors, from how long the trip will take to availability of parking. Travelers choose the mode that presents the least difficulty for a particular type of trip. Survey results show that the areas of subway service improvement with the greatest potential ridership payoff are reducing how long it takes to make a trip, increasing the availability or ease of use of transit, and making traveling on the subway a more comfortable and relaxing experience. Two external factors--parking availability and taxi fares--are also found to significantly affect subway ridership.