Service Orientation, Bus-Rail Service Integration, and Transit Performance: Examination of 45 U.S. Metropolitan Areas

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - integration, place - cbd, mode - bus, mode - rail, mode - subway/metro


Transportation system performance, Transit service, Service integration, Rail transit, Productivity, Production rate, Modal integration, Metropolitan areas, Intracity bus transportation, Intermodal services, Downtowns, Cost effectiveness, Conurbations, City centers, Central business districts, Bus transit, Bus service


Service orientation is one of the most important decisions that a transit manager makes. A manager can concentrate service on the central business district (CBD) or disperse service to connect multiple destinations. Conventional wisdom suggests that transit managers should focus on serving the CBD, because that—such wisdom suggests—is where riders wish to travel. In some places, the service orientation decision is complicated by the need to define the specific role to be played by rail service. Some managers may view rail transit as part of an integrated network structure. Other managers may view it simply as the functional equivalent of a high-capacity bus route. This research examines the relationship between service orientation, bus–rail service integration, and transit performance in U.S. metropolitan areas with between 1 million and 5 million people. Metropolitan areas that have integrated their rail transit into a decentralized network structure are found to enjoy higher riding habit, higher service productivity, and better cost-effectiveness than metropolitan areas with other network structures or modal combinations. These findings suggest the need for transit managers to carefully consider the relationship between service orientation and bus–rail integration to better serve their customers and improve overall transit performance.