The Hangover: Assessing Impact of Major Service Interruptions on Urban Rail Transit Ridership

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, ridership - growth, ridership - modelling, place - north america, place - urban, operations - capacity


transit ridership, econometric models, service interruptions


Driven by several factors, transit ridership has increased dramatically in some major U.S. urban areas over the past several years. Developing accurate econometric models of system ridership growth will help transit agencies plan for future capacity. As major weather events and maintenance issues can affect transit systems and have large impacts on the trajectory of ridership growth, this study examined the effect of major and minor service interruptions on the PATH heavy rail transit system in northern New Jersey and New York City. The study, which used PATH ridership data as well as data on weather, economic conditions, and fares for both PATH and competing services, concluded that Hurricane Sandy likely dampened ridership gains. Other major service interruptions, which lasted only hours or days, had little effect on long-term ridership growth. Suggestions for further study of service interruptions, especially in the face of climate change and resiliency issues in coastal regions, are presented.


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