Relationship between proximity to transit and ridership for journey-to-work trips in Chicago

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - transit oriented development, mode - car, mode - rail, place - north america, planning - environmental impact, planning - marketing/promotion, ridership - commuting, ridership - mode choice


Rail transit, Energy consumption and emissions reduction


The use of privately owned vehicles (POVs) contributes significantly to US energy consumption (EC) and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe). Strategies for reducing POV use include shifting trips to other modes, particularly public transit. Choices to use transit are based on characteristics of travelers, their trips, and the quality of competing transportation services. Here we focus on the proximity of rail stations to trip origins/destinations as a factor affecting mode choice for work trips. Using household travel survey data from Chicago, we evaluate the profile of journey-to-work (JTW) trips, assessing mode share and potential for more travelers to use rail. For work trips having the origin/destination as close as 1 mile from rail transit stations, POVs were still the dominant travel mode, capturing as much as 61%, followed by rail use at 14%. This high degree of POV use coupled with the proportion of JTW trips within close proximity to rail stations indicated that at least some of these trips may be candidates for shifting from POV to rail. For example, shifting all work trips with both the origin/destination within 1 mile of commuter rail stations would potentially reduce the energy associated with all work-related POV driving trips by a maximum of 24%. Based on the analysis of trips having the origin and destination closest to train stations, a complete shift in mode from POV to train could exceed CO2 reduction goals targeted in the Chicago Climate Action Plan. This could occur with current settlement patterns and the use of existing infrastructure. However, changes in traveler behavior and possibly rail operation would be necessary, making policy to motivate this change essential.


Permission to publish the abstract given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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