Adjusting the service? Understanding the factors affecting bus ridership over time at the route level in Montréal, Canada

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - bus, operations - frequency, land use - impacts, planning - methods, ridership - demand


Ridership, Route level, Bus service, Random-coefficients model


Like many cities across North America, Montréal has experienced shrinking bus ridership over recent years. Most literature has focused on the broader causes for ridership decline at the metropolitan or city level; few have considered ridership at the route level, particularly while accounting for various operational attributes and accessibility-to-jobs issues. Because service adjustments take place—and are felt by riders—at the route level, it is essential to explore bus-ridership phenomena at this same scale. Our study explores the determinants of bus ridership at the route level between 2012 and 2017 using two longitudinal random-coefficients models in Montréal. Our findings suggest that increasing the number of daily bus trips along a route and improving the average route speed are key factors in securing bus ridership gains. The service area’s regional accessibility to jobs by public transit around the route has a positive impact on bus ridership at the route level, showing the importance of land use and network structure. Additionally, our models show that reducing service frequency along a parallel route will lead to an increase in ridership along the main route. This study can be of use to transit planners and policymakers who require a more granular understanding of the factors that affect ridership at the route level.


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