Transit Attractiveness: Systematic Approach to Transit Performance Measurement

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - performance, planning - service quality, ridership - mode choice, organisation - performance, mode - mass transit, mode - subway/metro


Travel utility, Travel time, Travel costs, Transit, Service quality, Regional Transportation Authority (Illinois), Regional transportation, Quality of service, Public transit, Performance measurement, Passenger service quality, Origin and destination, O&D, Mode choice, Modal choice, Mass transit, Logits, Logit models, Local transit, Journey time, Intrastate transportation, Choice of transportation, Chicago Metropolitan Area, Attractiveness


Transit performance measures typically have focused on attributes of service supply, such as capacity, passenger loading, frequency, and reliability. These measures are effective in describing the quality of transit service available at a given location, but they do not describe how well transit serves actual passenger trips from that location to potential destinations. To support the Regional Transportation Authority’s objective of increasing the total number of trips for which transit is an attractive travel alternative, a methodology was developed to evaluate the relative attractiveness of travel by public transit and personal automobile on a sample of origin–destination pairs throughout the Chicago, Illinois, metropolitan region. Transit attractiveness was computed by using a logit mode choice framework that compared the utility of travel by transit, auto, and park-and-ride for various components of travel time and travel cost. To make the comparisons as customer-focused as possible, travel utility between the sampled origins and destinations was derived from actual automobile and transit itineraries generated by publicly available web-based trip planners. This paper describes the methodology and how it was applied in northeastern Illinois to identify ways to serve activity centers better by improving transit accessibility from many other places, and it discusses potential ways of generalizing the approach for use in other regions faced with similar challenges in planning transit systems.