NJDOT Research

NJ #
Understanding the Needs of Current and Potential Bus Transit Riders

In the context of the pre-COVID local bus ridership decline for NJ TRANSIT, this research began with two primary objectives: (a) identify the needs of the current and potential bus riders, and (b) identify strategies to address the ridership decline with an understanding of those needs. Because this research began before the COVID-19 pandemic, its original intent was to assess the needs of the current riders, the riders who stopped riding the bus, and the New Jersey residents who have never used the bus. Because of the pandemic’s devastating effect on public transit, the riders who stopped riding because of COVID were added as a separate category of potential riders. The major tasks for this research were a literature review, telephone interviews with representatives from several transit agencies nationwide, an online survey of NJ TRANSIT bus riders, and a combined telephone and mail survey of New Jersey residents. The literature review helped to catalog the reasons that could have caused the nationwide decline in transit ridership, the interviews demonstrated the steps agencies have taken to address ridership decline, and the surveys demonstrated the needs and barriers of the current and potential bus riders in New Jersey. The study presents a number of recommendations to address ridership decline, including a greater attention to the needs of the current riders and past riders over the needs of the riders who never used the bus; greater attention to non-discretionary bus trips over discretionary/occasional trips with a deliberate intent to increase ridership; increased focus on service in areas where bus is currently popular; improved bus frequency, reliability, and travel time; retention and improvement of service during weekday off-peak periods and weekends; examination of the potential for more direct buses to destinations to attract new riders with an emphasis on convenience and comfort; exploration of possibilities for coordinated service with ridehailing companies in off-peak periods for recreational/entertainment trips; and dissemination of bus information and marketing material for potential bus users.

Performing Organization
Rutgers UniversIty, Voorhees Transportation Center
Key Word(s)
Passenger Transportation, Public Transportation, Society, Transportation (general)

Posted in Uncategorized.