Exploring Comparative Ridership Drivers of Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail Transit Routes

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus rapid transit, mode - tram/light rail, operations - capacity, operations - performance, place - australasia, place - europe, place - north america


light rail transit (LRT), bus rapid transit (BRT) capacity, size, ridership


A major research gap is the relative ridership performance of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT), and streetcar (SC). This paper assesses ridership influences of 101 routes in Australia, Europe, and North America using multiple regression examining the influence of transit mode, vehicle capacity, service level, employment/ residential density, car ownership, speed, stop spacing, right-of-way, vehicle accessibility, and integrated fares on ridership (boardings/vehicle km; BVK). Average ridership is higher for LRT/SC routes than for BRT routes, and although service levels vary greatly, they are lower on BRT systems. Residential/employment density is higher for LRT/SC routes compared to BRT. A regression model predicting BVK was significant (R2 = 0.83) with six predictors: being in Europe, speed, vehicle capacity, employment density, service level, and integrated ticketing. Results suggest that the transit mode does not directly impact ridership but rather acts through vehicle size and service levels. Limitations and opportunities for future research are identified.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by NCTR, copyright remains with them.