Management & Operations

Public transit GM Q&A: How are you boosting ridership?

Posted on May 7, 2018 by Alex Roman - Also by this author - About the author

Carrie Butler, GM
Lexington, Ky.
Last fall, we added trips on our busiest mainline route to provide more frequent service to customers, and also, in hopes of growing ridership. We are also doing more to keep our finger on the pulse of development plans in Lexington, to better align our service with the destinations where people travel today, versus 30 years ago.


Jim Cline, President
Denton County Transportation Authority
Lewisville, Texas
DCTA is facing challenges with ridership. Our biggest competition is convenience in a time when many of our passengers can afford car ownership. To face this challenge, we’re implementing fare strategies that reduce cost as a factor for our riders. We’re also addressing first- and last-mile connections with innovative mobility solutions, such as integration with taxi service and TNCs, which will provide easier access to our services.


Clinton B. Forbes, Executive Director
Palm Tran
Palm Beach, Fla.
Our industry, including Palm Tran, has seen an unfortunate dip in ridership over the last few years. We recently established the PT-Stat program to approach important metrics, like ridership, with a laser-type focus. Our cross-disciplinary ridership team meticulously monitors ridership on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and recommends tweaks and enhancements to service to boost ridership. One recent enhancement was improving access to transit by extending an existing underperforming route six miles to the West Palm Beach, Fla. VA Medical Center and the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, which boosted ridership on the route by an unprecedented 90 percent. 


Kelly Dunham, Executive Director
Bay Area Transportation Authority
Traverse City, Mich.
The Bay Area Transportation Authority provides more than 500,000 rides annually and is currently experiencing a five-percent increase in ridership year-over-year. Ridership growth has been driven by modifying routes and services to meet the needs of new economic development projects in our region, offering a monthly commuter pass for frequent riders, and incorporating rider-friendly technologies, such as integrating BATA’s routes into Google Maps and the Transit App, so it’s easier for people to use public transportation.


David Green, CEO
GRTC Transit System
Richmond, Va.
Boosting ridership begins with optimizing system speed, consistency, and ease of use. This year, we debut a modernized transit system with new and redesigned routes, including bus rapid transit service ‘GRTC Pulse.’ New bus stop amenities and enhanced signs improve the customer experience, and technology advancements, like mobile pay, an updated transit app, and new destination guide, make it easier to ride. Successful implementation will result in faster travel and convenient, reliable options for riders.


Michael Terry, President/CEO
IndyGo is ramping up to a 70% increase in service over the next five years. This will mean every route running every day, a frequent and useable grid network design, better frequencies on the majority of routes, and three rapid transit lines. We are building a system, with public support after a voter referendum in 2016, that is useable. A system that more quickly and comfortably gets Indy residents and visitors to healthcare, recreation, education, and job opportunities.


Gamaliel Anguiano, Transit Manager
SLO Transit
San Luis Obispo, Calif.
We start with sound transit fundamentals, coupled with innovations in both operations and vehicles. SLO Transit prioritizes safety, reliability, accessibility, and efficiency in all its route planning. Then, we use a super simple route nomenclature system to easily orient new riders to our routes and schedules. Once on board, riders are treated to a modernly-styled vehicle with free Wi-Fi, two-tone flooring, sun-roofs, a hand-sanitizer station, a video-infotainment system, and other amenities.


Dwight A. Ferrell, CEO/GM
Cincinnati Metro
To increase ridership, our focus is on improving the customer experience to make using our service more attractive and competitive with owning a personal vehicle. We’re purchasing new buses with charging ports and more comfortable seating, and providing technology like real-time bus tracking, mobile trip planning and payment apps, and text alerts for service interruptions. Currently, we’re conducting a Wi-Fi pilot to evaluate providing this amenity, which would enable customers to use their commute to do what they otherwise couldn’t behind the wheel.

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