Designing Shuttle Connections to Commuter Rail with Census Origin and Destination Data

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - park and ride, mode - rail, operations - capacity, place - north america, ridership - behaviour, ridership - commuting, planning - route design, planning - service improvement, planning - service rationalisation


commuter rail, last-mile shuttle


Designing shuttles that help transit riders complete the last mile of their trip (from a transit station or stop to their destination) plays an important role in leveraging rail capacity and growing a regional transit market. Unavailable or imprecise data have made it difficult to conduct effective design for shuttle routes on the basis of a defined potential market. This study developed a methodology for determining the size and location of the untapped market of commuters who drove long distances for work but could have made the same trip with commuter rail and last-mile shuttle service. The analysis was conducted with U.S. Census Longitudinal Employer–Household Dynamics data, a relatively new public data set of statewide workplace and residence pairs at the census block level. As a case study, the analysis was applied to the potential for last-mile shuttle connections between employment and 14 FrontRunner commuter rail stations outside downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. For the shuttle market to be captured, the workplace and residence pairs in this methodology were selected on the basis of three criteria: (a) a residence within the FrontRunner park-and-ride shed, (b) a workplace within 2 mi of a FrontRunner station, and (c) an overall trip distance of 15 mi or greater. The study identified stations with the highest number of trips that met all three criteria and designed shuttle routes on the basis of the associated employment locations. Although this analysis focused on nontraditional commuting patterns, the same methodology would be useful for many other analyses of commuter markets.


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