Planning for Demographic Diversity: The Case of Immigrants and Public Transit

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - mass transit, mode - car, ridership - commuting


This research examines the significant effects of immigration on transit use. Drawing on data from the U.S. Census, we examine how the enormous influx of immigrants to California has altered the demographics of transit commuting in the state and contributed importantly to a growth in transit ridership. California immigrants commute by public transit at twice the rate of native-born commuters, comprise nearly 50 percent of all transit commuters in the state, and are responsible for much of the growth in transit commuting in the state. But over time, immigrants’ reliance on transit declines. Transit managers would be well advised to plan for these inevitable demographic changes by enhancing transit services in neighborhoods that serve as ports to entry for new immigrants, those most likely to rely on public transportation.