Examination of Process of Innovation at Transit Systems

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - surveys, economics - finance, mode - mass transit


Wisconsin, Transit operating agencies, Transit lines, Transit, Technological innovations, Surveys, Risk taking, Public transit lines, Public transit, Mass transit lines, Mass transit, Local transit, Leadership, Innovation, Government funding, Finance, Case studies, Advanced technology


A study of the innovation process in transit agencies had two major components. First, case studies of innovations adopted by transit agencies in Wisconsin were conducted. Second, transit agencies across the country were surveyed online to gain a sense of innovation and change. An analysis of the case studies showed that many had common themes and barriers to the various innovations studied. These barriers and themes were funding, the nature of the organization, persistence, the regional planning commission, user involvement, a problem-centered approach, and a champion. The innovations discussed in the case studies came about because there was a need to improve the transit systems, an internal champion, funding, and persistence to overcome barriers to change. Analysis of the survey results revealed that the primary institutional barrier to innovation or change was money, and the main reason for change was an internal leader or champion. Innovation is most likely to occur when there is a need to improve service, when there is a champion to lead and coordinate to bring about the change, and when there is a source of funds for the planning and implementation of the innovation.