Citizens or Customers? Transit Agency Approaches to Community Engagement

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - mass transit, organisation - management


mass transit agencies, Community Engagement, transit-dependent populations, Community as Citizens, Community as Customers


This research considers what public administrators at mass transit agencies say they do in pursuit of engagement with their communities. The decisions that public administrators in transit agencies make regarding service retrenchment or expansion have deep, profound consequences on poor and vulnerable transit-dependent populations. Such transit administrators exercise a great deal of power over their ridership’s lives since agency decisions have real-world consequences. Therefore, it is a critical research question to examine the methods, techniques, and underlying rationale of transit administrators’ pursuit of community engagement. This research finds that public transportation agency approaches to community engagement can be typified into two broad perspectives of how the agency views individuals in their community: Community as Citizens and Community as Customers.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by National Center for Transit Research, University of South Florida, copyright remains with them.