Who Rides Public Transit? Results for Five Cities with the Largest Subway Systems

17 Pages Posted: 7 May 2020

See all articles by John F. McDonald

John F. McDonald

University of Illinois at Chicago

Bun Song Lee

University of Seoul - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 29, 2020

Abstract

This study examines elevated/subway and bus ridership for the five cities in the U.S. with the largest elevated/subway systems. Data on individual trips to work from the 2010 Census are employed. The New York elevated/subway system is by far the largest system and carries 18.4% of the trips to work in the New York metro area compared to an average of 6% of trips in the metro areas of the four next-largest systems (Chicago, San Francisco-Oakland, Boston, and Washington, DC). The New York system has 245 service miles compared to an average of 92 miles for the other four and almost twice as many stations per mile as the other four. Log-odds analysis of the individual trips shows that the New York elevated/subway system carries an estimated over 40% of the work trips by certain groups of commuters. In contrast, the empirical results for the bus systems are roughly similar across the five metropolitan areas. Bus riders make up 7.7% of commuters in metro New York compared to an average of 4.7% for the other four metro areas. Unlike the elevated/subway systems, bus systems cover nearly all of these metro areas with some level of service. Log-odds results show that elevated/subway ridership increases and bus ridership decreases with income, and unmarried commuters (both female and male) are more likely to use either form of public transit.

Keywords: Public Transit, Ridershiip

JEL Classification: R41

Suggested Citation

McDonald, John F. and Lee, Bun Song, Who Rides Public Transit? Results for Five Cities with the Largest Subway Systems (January 29, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3573838 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3573838

John F. McDonald (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

Chicago, IL 60605
United States
312-281-3287 (Phone)
312-281-3123 (Fax)

Bun Song Lee

University of Seoul - Department of Economics ( email )

Seoul, 130-743
Korea

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