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Factors affecting urban transit ridership


For several years, urban transit ridership in Canada has been declining. In the late 1990s, ridership began to stabilize but at a level well below the peaks reached in previous years. Many have postulated reasons for the decline, including the dominance of the automobile, changes in work locations and hours, increasing fares, decreasing subsidies and increasing suburbanization.

Using data from approximately 85 Canadian urban transit service providers, over a period of 8 years, this paper outlines the empirical results of analysis to measure factors that have affected urban transit ridership. Among the key goals of this project was the development of measures of fare elasticity.

Demographic, socio-economic and level of service variables were used in the research to explain changes in ridership. A variety of dummy variables was also used to account for structural differences.

The paper concludes with an examination of major Canadian cities that carry the majority of all commuters in the country.

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