Public Transit Catchment Areas The Curious Case of Cycle-Transit Users

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - bike, mode - bus, mode - rail, ridership - behaviour, ridership - commuting, planning - integration, planning - surveys


bicycle, public transit, bicycle-transit integration, cycle-transit users (CTUs)


The coordination of bicycle and transit modes has received close attention from public transit planners and researchers in recent years as transit agencies around the world have installed bicycle racks on transit vehicles, implemented bicycles-on-trains policies, and made other efforts to facilitate bicycle-transit integration. Many planners presume that the catchment area for transit is enlarged by these efforts, but geographic changes in the size of catchment areas have not been documented effectively. The research project reported in this paper assessed the distances traveled on bicycle by cycle-transit users (CTUs) and included (a) those who used bicycles as a means of access to transit stops and stations and (b) those who bicycled to and traveled on transit with their bicycles. A mixed-methods approach was employed, with a literature review; a survey of CTUs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and San Francisco, California; and telephone interviews with a subset of survey respondents. Responses in the two cities made it possible to define CTU characteristics and behavior in detail. The responses highlighted two intriguing findings. First, transit catchment areas could be much larger for CTUs than for traditional transit users who accessed transit buses and rail on foot. Second, the concept of a cycle-transit catchment area was seen to be complex because of the variety of travel opportunities that cycle-transit coordination policies presented to transit riders. CTUs took advantage of larger catchment areas to reduce their travel costs, and they used those catchment areas in curious and less predictable ways.


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