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Center Identification Number: 416-12

Project Title: Public Transit Investment Decisions: Per Capita Trends and Analysis

Principal Investigators: 

Rob Gregg, Transit Management Director

Mark Mistretta, Research Associate 


Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida

FDOT Project Manager:

I. Project Objective

  1. Conduct a trend analysis of transit per capita operating investment expenditures and service utilization.
  2. Seek to reveal correlation variables of investment decisions and transit usage.
  3. Produce a white paper on findings and possible decision-making tools for evaluating investment strategies and performance measurements.

II. Project Abstract

A review of per capita investment in, and the per capita utilization of, transit services over the last 20-30 years and how, or why changes occur. This study will review select transit systems and services to determine the changes in per capita usage and per capita expenditures as well as varying influences that have caused changes. Regression analyses of these and other variables such as revenue vehicle miles and density of service area will attempt to reveal relationships in transit investments as well as relevant investments in other municipal public services.

III. Task Description

Task 1 Data Collection

CUTR will lead the collection of data from available sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic Business Research (BEBR), the National Transit Data Base (NTD) system, the Florida Department of Transportation databases, Local Transit System records, and local jurisdictions, as appropriate.

Upon determination of a geographical area and at least two (2) public transit system to be analyzed the Initial data to be collected will include:


  • Population
  • Employment
  • Housing Units
  • Ridership
  • Revenue Miles
  • Revenue Hours
  • Price of Gasoline
  • Total / Major Service Area Jurisdictional Budgets
  • Public Transit Operational Budget
  • Road Miles

Task 2 Research Interviews and Kick-Off Work Session

A. CUTR will conduct a district work session with FDOT staff and designated Transit Properties to discuss the subject research and to define applicability and availability of data to be utilized in the research analysis.

B. The work session will also be utilized to establish contacts and get input for key persons to interview, as part of field research of transit property staff and local jurisdictional representative perceptions and source data.

C. CUTR will prepare a survey format and content to be utilized for the above referenced survey. 

Task 3 Research Analysis

A. CUTR will conduct an analysis of data previously collected to provide insight on per capita trends of investment in public transportation and utilization of services in the selected service areas.

B. The analysis will attempt to define any cursory correlation with agency funding sources, comparative investments in other jurisdictional services, land use development and other obvious influences on travel mode choices.

C. CUTR will seek to identify local policies and procedures (and changes over a documented period of time) related to the decision process for investments in public transportation.

Task 4 Research Paper

A. CUTR will produce a research paper documenting the various tasks associated with this research effort. A draft paper will be presented in to the district participants in a work session.

B. An assessment analysis will be provided for potential use of this research relative the State’s Strategic Transit Plan (2020) and opportunities to define impact measurements of Plan objectives.

C. Additionally, the findings will be reviewed for applicability and use by other public transportation service areas, as well as for the identification of other research needs.

IV. Student Involvement

Graduate Students will be utilized to research demographics and economic variables.

V. Relationship to Other Research Projects


VI. Technology Transfer Activities

The results of this analysis will be provided to the FDOT and participating transit properties in a final work session. Copies of the final report will be provided to the Research Office, the State Public Transportation Administrator, the Manager of the Transit Office, the Florida Transit Association and made accessible from the CUTR web page.

VII. Potential Benefits of the Project

The benefits of this research will be a better understanding of transit investments relationship to service utilization and relative investments in other public services.

VIII. TRB Keywords

Public Transit; transit investments; service utilization; per capita relationships.


National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · · Comments: