World Transit Research. Trends in need, supply, and use

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - bus rapid transit, mode - mass transit, mode - rail, planning - surveys


transit research, journals, bus, light rail, BRT, mass transit, academics, policy


Transit research is explored with the aim of understanding areas covered, research trends, research uses, and how research provision matches needs. The method involves an empirical analysis of the content, use, and users of the World Transit Research Clearinghouse website (http://www.worldtransitresearch.info). Results indicate that the Transportation Research Record is the academic journal that publishes the most transit research, but only 14% of its papers are on transit. Transport Policy is the second-largest source, but papers on transit make up 58% of its publications. Most research papers on transit concern bus, rail, or mass transit. In the past decade, the most significant change in publications by transit mode is that the segment on bus rapid transit research has grown, although it still accounts for a small share of overall content. Consumption of research content by mode is highest for bus rapid transit, followed by light rail or tram, then by bicycle or pedestrian. A comparison of research supply and research consumption suggests that research papers concerning (in order) sustainability, urban density, and ridership growth have the highest readership but represent a small share of research content in the field. User surveys had a low response rate but the responses received suggest that professionals including government policy makers, consultants, and academics are the major research users. The most common use of transit research is to be kept informed; however, research also is cited as evidence, notably by academics. A modest but significant share of professionals use transit research for transit policy, service development, or both. Opportunities for future research are identified.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, (TRB), Washington. Copyright remains with them.