Transit Ridership, Reliability and Retention

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, operations - reliability


Customer retention, On time performance, On time reliability, Passenger traffic, Public transit, Reliability of service, Ridership, Travel time


This project explores two major components that affect transit ridership: travel time reliability and rider retention. It has been recognized that transit travel time reliability may have a significant impact on attractiveness of transit to many current and prospective riders. Accuracy of predictions of transit ridership based on transit travel time reliability is becoming increasingly important. Knowledge of what transit improvements the potential transit customer responds to will help transit agencies to provide better services. In addition, transit agencies are constantly attempting to keep the riders they have and attract new riders to their service. A good understanding of these riders is necessary to develop and implement strategies for retaining them. Armed with an understanding of why people stop using transit and what makes a loyal transit customer, transit agencies can focus their planning and marketing efforts in ways that retain and increase ridership. Finally, infrequent riders represent a promising potential growth market. Transit agencies across the country have used a variety of strategies to increase the frequency of usage by infrequent riders. These strategies fall into a number of categories, including marketing, fare structure, network structure, and passenger information systems. This research will benefit the transit industry by enhancing its performance and relevance.