Restructuring from a Central Business District-Focused to a Decentralized Transit System

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - cbd, place - north america, mode - bus, policy - equity, ridership - drivers


central busines district, restructuring, bus, accessibility, equity


The relationship between a transit system's design and the pattern of urban development affects the level and pattern of accessibility in a community. A mismatch between the two renders some destinations inaccessible to people who rely primarily on transit to serve their transportation needs. System design is critical to accessibility and to equity, but thus far, the research literature has largely neglected this important issue. The relationship between system design and accessibility was examined through a study of the July 11, 2011, restructuring of StarMetro, the bus system in Tallahassee, Florida. The focus was on the change in riders' accessibility provided by shifting from a transit network that was downtown-oriented and radial before restructuring to one that was decentralized and multidestination after restructuring. System restructuring increased the time for people to walk to bus stops, but once people reached the stops, the more direct travel connections provided by the new system reduced travel times and increased access to destinations. The net result of the service change was a reduction in total travel time and thus increased accessibility for most trip interchanges. The restructuring neither disproportionately harmed nor disproportionately benefited neighborhoods with larger numbers of transit-dependent, low-income, or minority residents. The restructuring did not disproportionately benefit, nor disproportionately harm, neighborhoods with large numbers of college students either. StarMetro was a system largely dominated by college students and transit-dependent residents before restructuring, as well as after. However, there was a modest increase in the use of the system by infrequent riders after restructuring.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them. Published by Transportation Research Board Washington.