Trends in Small-Metro Transit Ridership

Photo by Rohit on Unsplash

Project summary: This study seeks to identify and analyze the reasons behind declining ridership among downstate Illinois transit systems. We are using a mixed-methods approach to reach our target populations of current transit riders, former riders, and non-riders in eight transit service areas in across the state (outside Chicago). The study addresses four primary research questions:

  1. What are the characteristics of non-riders, former riders, and how do these compare with those of current transit users?
  2. What are the key barriers to transit use among non-riders and former riders?
  3. How are emerging and evolving transportation technologies influencing transit ridership?
  4. What types of strategies might encourage more frequent transit use?

This study also has the opportunity to understand the medium-term effects of Covid-19 on transit ridership, as this study began before the onset of the global pandemic. As of November 2021, we have conducted a household survey of roughly 5,000 households, an on-board survey of about 400 transit riders, and interviews with 44 former transit riders. Graduate students Amanda Merck and Emily Hutchinson recently presented this work at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning conference.

Project collaborators include Lindsay Braun and Bumsoo Lee at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

Jesus M. Barajas
Jesus M. Barajas
Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Policy