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Old Posted Feb 13, 2022, 10:14 PM
mhays mhays is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2001
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US Ridership Stats: FTA Unlinked Trips and Miles by Category

We don't have a perfect source for transit stats. APTA numbers use different methods and standards. Census commute surveys are only commutes. But the FTA produces trip stats for urban areas, and they might be the best of the three. They count unlinked transit trips (each leg of a journey counts as one), and also rider miles by fixed-guideway and non-fixed, though not trips for those.

Fixed-Guideway is trains, BRT, ferries, and fixed catenary systems (like trolley buses). They don't separate trains.

This is flawed too, mostly because it counts rides and miles ridden rather than riders, and it would be nice to separate categories like trains. A system based on a lot of transfers might look better than it should.

But here we go. I used 2019 for obvious reasons.

Unlinked Trips Per Capita, >800,000 Pop:
New York: 229.4
SF/Oak: 124.0
DC: 91.4
Boston: 90.0
Honolulu: 79.0
Seattle: 71.2
Chicago: 64.3
Philly: 63.9
Portland: 59.5
LA: 44.3
Denver: 41.2
Baltimore: 40.0
Pittsburgh: 38.0
Las Vegas: 34.9
MSP: 34.5
San Diego: 32.8
SLC: 31.3
Atlanta: 27.6
San Jose: 25.7
Buffalo: 25.6
San Antonio: 24.2
Austin: 22.9
Milwaukee: 22.8
Miami: 22.4
New Orleans: 21.0
Charlotte: 19.9
Phoenix: 19.9
...(others over 1,300,000):
Cleveland: 18.5
Houston: 18.3
St. Louis: 17.9
DFW: 14.9
Columbus: 14.3
Orlando: 13.9
Sacramento: 13.2
Tampa: 11.3
Cincinnati: 10.9
Kansas City: 10.3
Detroit: 9.4
Virginia Beach: 9.4
Riverside: 8.9
Indianapolis: 6.6

Unlinked Trips Per Capita, <800,000 Pop (top 6):
Ames, IA: 101.3
Champaign, IL: 80.0
State College, PA: 75.5
Ithaca, NY: 62.1
San Marcos, TX: 57.5
Atlantic City, NJ: 57.3

Fixed-Guideway Passenger Miles Per Capita, >800,000 Pop (top 15):
New York: 1,008.7
SF/Oak: 569.6
DC: 353.4
Boston: 340.0
Chicago: 328.6
Philly: 200.1
Seattle: 156.3
Denver: 127.5
SLC: 122.3
Portland: 121.1
Atlanta: 99.7
San Diego: 96.1
Los Angeles: 86.1
Baltimore: 83.0
DFW: 52.7

Fixed-Guideway Passenger Miles Per Capita, <800,000 Pop (top 6):
Danbury, CT: 926.1
Waterbury, CT: 800.4
Concord, CA: 652.0
Trenton, NJ: 411.7
Antioch, CA: 331.6
New Haven, CT: 305.1

Non-Fixed Passenger Miles Per Capita, >800,000 (top 15):
Honolulu: 393.6
Seattle: 320.4
New York: 202.5
SF/Oak: 180.4
DC: 176.5
Los Angeles: 156.5
Portland: 129.4
Las Vegas: 129.4
Baltimore: 128.8
Pittsburgh: 125.8
Philly: 122.0
Denver: 120.5
MSP: 118.8
Austin: 115.5
Hartford: 111.7

Non-Fixed Passenger Miles Per Capita, <800,000 (top 6):
Atlantic City, NJ: 385.2
Poughkeepsie, NY: 380.7
State College, PA: 303.5
Kahului, HI: 276.2
Boulder, CO: 237.5
Hanford, CA: 203.2

I'll point out some takeaways I found.

Fixed-guideway transit got a lot of rider-miles in the distant commuter train areas around big cities. Maybe it's kind of popular, but it might just be that most people are going huge distances.

Honolulu is killing it in non-fixed. I'd guess Atlantic city might include tourists and long-distance commuters who go long distances. But Poughkeepsie? State College and Boulder are easier to guess.

Of course Seattle is my favorite topic. By passenger mileage it's 2/3 non-fixed, despite the fixed category including ferries and trolley buses. That's buses still forming the spine of most of the transit system.

It's interesting how small NY's rider miles are in non-fixed. About 5/6 of all passenger miles are fixed. I wish they counted riders too. Maybe they get a ton of bus riders but they're mostly short trips.

To dive into that point a little:

Mileage Per Trip, Highest:
Pascagoula, MS: 39.9
McKinney, TX: 32.6
Sherman, TX: 30.8
Poughkeepsie, NY: 29.7
Conroe/Woodlands, TX: 29.5
Lancaster, PA: 29.4

Mileage Per Trip, Highest >800,000 Pop UAs (and selected):
Riverside, CA: 8.2
San Jose, CA: 7.7
Orlando: 7.1
Seattle: 6.7
Chicago: 6.6
Atlanta: 6.6
Houston: 6.5
Dallas: 6.3
SLC: 6.2
Miami: 6.2
St. Louis: 6.2
Detroit: 6.2
San Diego: 6.1
SF/Oak: 6.0
Denver: 6.0
DC: 5.8
Tampa: 5.8
Los Angeles: 5.5
New York: 5.3
Philly: 5.0
Phoenix: 4.9
Boston: 4.6

We have combined trip numbers (legs of trips at least) already. But the miles per trip is interesting re: who's riding and how far. Linear and/or spread-out cities tend to have high mileage averages. Maybe that's good, as that's a lot of miles not being driven, or maybe it's a of how dysfunctional these cities are (land use, affordability).
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