Transit ridership and the built environment


Del Peterson

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, land use - smart growth, place - north america, ridership - drivers, technology - geographic information systems


transit, built environment, travel behavior


The built environment consists of everything humanly made, arranged, or maintained (Bartuska and Young 1994). In relation to travel behavior, there has been a focus on improving our understanding of how the built environment influences one’s travel mode choice. Planners need evidence showing how land use matters as they advocate for the adoption of different planning principles. This is especially true in small urban areas where planners seldom utilize innovative land-use principles, such as smart growth, within their planning process (Peterson 2009). The objective of this research is to determine what variables (i.e., residential density, land-use mix) play an important role in determining the built environment/transit ridership relationship in the Fargo-Moorhead community. Socio-economic and level of service variables were also considered. Overall, built environment results indicated that residential density and walkability were significant in predicting transit ridership and performed as anticipated. Land-use mix was also significant, but results were mixed with respect to their influence on transit ridership. Policy makers looking to support land uses that increase both transit use and walkability should consider these implications. Small, medium, and large communities can all benefit from planning techniques that give travelers options rather than car centric neighborhoods that do not provide the needed flexibility to support different transportation modes.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by the author, copyright remains with Mountain-Plains Consortium.