Getting There: The Effect of First and Last Mile Infrastructure and Services on Rail Ridership

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - bus, mode - rail, land use - impacts, land use - planning, policy - equity, ridership


Infrastructure, Land use, Linear regression analysis, Rail transit, Ridership


Using linear regression models, this paper analyzes the connection between first and last mile infrastructure and services and ridership at rail stations in two San Francisco Bay Area rail systems: Bay Area Rapid Transit and Caltrain. The findings indicated that bus and shuttle services had a large impact on ridership at stations when demographic data about station-area populations and service data such as the number of trains that serve a station at peak hour were controlled for. Additionally, station area jobs and housing were found to be extremely effective predictors of rail ridership. Each additional resident or job in a station area increased daily ridership by a small but significant amount, suggesting that ridership is ultimately heavily driven by station-area land use. Nevertheless, existing first and last mile plans primarily focus on active transportation modes; these plans neither consider land use nor emphasize the importance of bus and shuttle services as key parts of first and last mile planning. The findings showed a much less conclusive relationship between active transportation improvements, typically the focus of first and last mile plans, and ridership. This finding revealed an opportunity for improving ridership and providing equitable access to transportation and jobs by better linking land use and first and last mile planning efforts and by investing in bus and shuttle services at stations.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.