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

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Document pages: 17 pages

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.

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