Strategies > Public Transit > Transit Service
For many people, public transit provides access to employment, education, and other destinations necessary for living a healthy life. Transit is an essential mobility service, particularly for those who cannot afford or do not wish to own a car. Transit is especially important for low-income households and people with disabilities.
Improving transit service includes increasing the frequency of transit, improving reliability, and offering expanded hours of service, particularly service at night. Some of the tools to create a high-quality transit experience include having convenient routes, safe and comfortable access to stops and stations, and reduced fares .
Improving transit service is a recommended strategy to increase walking and physical activity (Community Guide, 2016). Offering high-quality transit service is a scientifically support strategy for increasing transit use (County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2017). While an increase in transit ridership does not reduce driving trips one-for-one, an increase in transit trips resulting from transit improvements can substitute between 10% and 50% of car trips (Handy et al., 2013).
Potential co-benefits of improved transit service include reduced single occupancy vehicle use, congestion, noise pollution, and air pollution (Community Guide, 2016), reduced vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) (County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2017). While research shows that there is a positive relationship between improved transit service and ridership, the effect on VMT has not been quantified (Handy et al., 2013).
Equity and Inclusion
- Public transit is a central feature of civil rights and transportation equity. Improving transit service improves equity for those who are unable to drive. When investing in transit improvements, consider which demographic groups benefit--who is the expanded service for?
- Strategies that involve changes to the physical environment, particularly the introduction of light rail, may increase the attractiveness of an area. An increased demand for housing may result in increased property values or rents and could lead to involuntary displacement if appropriate mitigation strategies are not put into place. Practitioners can evaluate the risk of displacement through the methods described by Chapple et al. (2017) or Bates (2013).
- There are concerns that transit-oriented development, which is built near light rail stations, can displace low-income residents in favor of higher-income residents. Transit-oriented development projects can require affordable housing to ensure that residents who rely on transit can afford to live nearby.
Guides & Reports