Source poll: How long have you been taking transit?

Why ask the above question? Because the American Public Transit Assn. recently burped out the pie chart below about ridership on a national level and I was curious how our local numbers might compare.

Here’s one take on the pie chart from the California Transit Assn., which raises some points about how the data was collected from agencies across the country.

I’ll be honest: I’m not entirely sure how to interpret the chart. My two small thoughts are: 1) The chart suggests that riding transit for a majority of riders is an ingrained habit and/or transit riders don’t have a choice, and; 2) There seems to be a healthy influx of new riders — with 30 percent riding continuously for a year or less.

Metro, in fact, posed this question in its 2010 rider survey: “How many years have you been riding Metro?” The answers:

Less than one (13%)
1-2 years (16%)
3-4 years (17%)
5+ years (54%)

I tend to think that these numbers could change greatly once more Measure R transit projects come online and we have more of a regional transit network in place to attract new riders. To name just three, I think projects such as the Westside Subway Extension, the Regional Connector and the Expo Line phase 1 and 2 have the potential to be game-changers in terms of getting people to try transit.

What do you think?

4 replies

  1. Many people take buses because they have no choice. Back in my college days, a bunch of us were talking. We hate the system. One person has goal after graduating, get his cars, so the future employers would not give him hard time. I know that after graduating. My coworkers graduated 10 years ago. She took bus in college days. She did not like it. Eventually, she got her cars. she never missed her life when she took bus. She came from San Francisco, and she took bus before she came to study at Cal Poly. There are so many stories like that

    Bus agencies in SCAL has lost a lot customers because they consistently provided inferior service. This encourage people to drive.

    MTA has to ask itself why people switch cars amid the raining gasoline price. People are not going to miss their job interview and be late for jobs.

    Somehow MTA does not understand.

  2. I think that it’s interesting to look at how long people have “continuously” been riding transit, but it’s equally important to look at how long it has been since someone has included transit as a viable routine option in their life.

    Nowadays there are months where I never get on a bus or train… but that doesn’t mean I don’t consider transit one of my options, and use it when it’s the best way to get where I’m going. I’ve been in that mode since 2000 at least.

    There is, IMO, a BIG difference between people who don’t take the bus often but are aware of it and consider it an option, and people like some of my colleagues, one of whom “has only been on a city bus twice in her life” (she’s in her late 50s), another who took a cab from Union Station, just 1.5 miles away, when she took the Metrolink instead of driving.

    People like me will use transit more as new options become available… the others will need to get over that “hump” of seeing themselves as transit’s target audience before they will use it, even if it’s the MOST convenient option for them.

  3. You need to know about the other side–about people who used to ride transit but stopped, and how long ago they stopped. Then you could get a cross-section in time of people coming onto transit and getting off it.

  4. At first I started riding out of need after graduating from college but now I ride buses and trains because I hate driving in traffic and the cost of driving my car everyday is ridiculous. I love my tap card.