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Understanding the Recent Transit Ridership Decline in Major US Cities: Service Cuts or Emerging Modes?
This paper seeks to understand the potential causes of a decline in transit ridership by examining data from seven major U.S. cities – Boston, New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angles.
Potential causes for decreased ridership could be attributed to income growth combined with cheap gas, increased car ownership, service cuts, reliability issues associated with deferred maintenance, increased bicycling, bike sharing, and electric scooters, and the expansion of Transportation Network Companies such as Uber and Lyft.
“We find that the introduction of bike share in a city is associated with increased light and heavy rail ridership, but a 1.8% decrease in bus ridership.”
“Our results also suggest that for each year after Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) enter a market, heavy rail ridership can be expected to decrease by 1.3% and bus ridership can be expected to decrease by 1.7%. This TNC effect builds with each passing year and may be an important driver of recent ridership declines.”
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