Reassessing Passenger Mile Data for Transit Planning and Fund Allocation


Xuehao Chu

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning


Data collection, Fund allocation, National Transit Database, Passenger miles, Planning, Public transit, Utilization


This document provides information on the collection and use of passenger mile (PM) data that may be helpful to the transit industry in reconsidering the use of PM data for transit planning and fund allocation. Historically the industry seldom uses PM data. This reluctance results largely from five perceptions that the industry has had about PM data: 1) determining PM is difficult; 2) determining PM is expensive; 3) PM data are unreliable; 4) using PM data in fund allocation favors transit agencies serving longer trips; and 5) PM data are not useful beyond reporting them to the National Transit Database. This paper provides evidence that determining PM is not as difficult or expensive as perceived and that PM data are more reliable than perceived. The paper also shows that using PM data in fund allocation can be neutral to transit agencies serving trips of different lengths. Finally, the paper presents examples of how PM has been usefully applied in the industry by both non-operating and operating agencies. By taking advantage of new data collection technologies and sampling methods, there are opportunities to productively apply PM data in transit planning and fund allocation.