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Center Identification Number:  576-14


Project Title:  Teenage Attitudes and Perceptions Regarding Transit Use


Principal Investigator:                 


Lisa E. Tucker, Research Associate





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


External Project Contact:                       


Jon Ausman, FDOT  


I.  Project Objectives


To assess the current level of transit use among teenagers and their potential as a viable transit market. To identify successful components, as well as challenges faced by transit programs targeting teenagers. To explore teen attitudes and perceptions regarding transit. To examine the extent of peer and parental/legal guardian influence on teen transit use, and to explore parental/legal guardian attitudes related to their teens using transit. Finally, to develop overall recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness and attractiveness of mass transit among teenagers and increasing their share in the transit market.


 II.  Project Abstract


Teenagers are generally considered to be image and brand-conscious, and greatly influenced by their peers and parents/legal guardians. Transit ridership among teenagers has traditionally been relatively low, particularly in those areas with small and medium-sized transit systems. Many transit agencies have employed a variety of programs to attract teen riders, such as summer passes or fare-free transit to school. Proponents of such programs often hypothesize that teenaged riders will continue their transit habits into adulthood, thus establishing a base of transit patrons in the future. The purpose of this project is to explore teen attitudes and perceptions regarding transit, and to examine the level of influence peers and parents/legal guardians exert in teen transit use. The research will be conducted using both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analyses. This will include the conduct of in-depth focus groups discussions with parent/legal guardian and teen pairs as well as quantitative surveys of transit agencies. Based upon the findings of this research, recommendations will be offered for enhancing the effectiveness and attractiveness of public transportation among teenagers and increasing the teen share in the transit market.


III.  Task Descriptions


This project will include four distinct tasks designed to achieve the objectives listed above. Each task is described below.



Task 1:  Review of the Literature Pertaining to Transit Use Among Teenagers


The investigators shall review and summarize previous studies related to teenagers and public transportation. The results of this task will inform the development of the questioning route to be used during the focus groups and the content of the quantitative questionnaire. The results of the literature review shall be summarized, along with the results of Task 2 (described below), in Technical Memorandum 1.


Task 2:  Conduct Focus Groups with Teen and Parent/Legal Guardian Pairs


Focus groups shall be conducted with matched pairs of teens and parents/legal guardians to explore the range of attitudes and perceptions related to teen transit use. The focus groups shall be conducted in a number of cities around the country, one of which will be Miami. Teens will discuss their experiences using transit, its image perception, peer and parental/legal guardian influence, their attitude toward using transit, and what might make transit more attractive to this age group in general. Focus groups shall be conducted separately with parents/legal guardians of participating teens to explore the level of parental/legal guardian influence in teen transit use, as well as the attitudes and concerns parents/legal guardians may have related to their teenaged children using public transportation. The matching pair paradigm shall allow for comparison of teen attitudes about transit to those of their parents/legal guardians. Refreshments shall be provided during the focus group sessions.


Deliverable: Technical Memorandum 1 Literature Review and Focus Group Results


Task 3:  Conduct Survey of Transit Agencies


Using the results of Technical Memorandum 1, CUTR shall develop and conduct quantitative surveys of transit agencies nationwide. Transportation providers shall be asked about their approach and success in recruiting and maintaining teen ridership, obstacles they may face in doing so, marketing strategies, promotional efforts targeted toward teens, any information they might have on current levels of teen ridership, and data that may be derived from system on-board surveys. Results of the surveys shall be analyzed in relation to the findings presented in Technical Memorandum 1.


Deliverable:  Technical Memorandum 2 Synthesis of Transit Agency Survey Results


Task 4:  Develop Best Practices Report


The final task of the research shall summarize the results of all previous tasks in order to develop a report on the Best Practices in Attracting Teen Ridership. The report shall highlight programs that have been successful, as well as document challenges facing programs attempting to attract and maintain teen ridership. In addition, the report shall offer recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness and attractiveness of public transportation among teenagers and increasing the teen share in the transit market. 


IV.  Project Schedule


Project Start Date:  November 1, 2003

Draft Final Report Due Date:  December 1, 2004

Contract Ending Date:  January 31, 2005


















Task 1

















Task 2

















Task 3

















Task 4
















Quarterly Report
















Technical Memorandum 1
















Technical Memorandum 2
















Final Report

















V.  Project Budget


Teenage Attitudes and Perceptions Regarding Transit Use

Budget Categories

State Share

Center Director Salary


Faculty Salaries ($24.17 X 1400 hours)


Administrative Staff Salaries


Other Staff Salaries


Student Salaries ($16.46 X 150 hours)


Staff Benefits


Total Salaries and Benefits




Permanent Equipment


Expendable Property/Supplies


Domestic Travel


Foreign Travel


Other Direct Costs 


Total Direct Costs


Indirect Costs



























Notes:   The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above.


Budget request includes salary for clerical and administrative staff, postage, local telephone service, office supplies, general purpose software, subscriptions, and/or memberships.


VI.  Student Involvement


Graduate students may provide assistance with the literature review, research and data collection, qualitative and quantitative analyses, and/or report writing.


 VII.  Technology Transfer Activities


The results of this analysis will be provided to the FDOT through a series of technical memoranda and a final report, as outlined above. Copies of the final report will be provided to the Research Office, the State Public Transportation Administrator, the Manager of the Transit Office, and those transit systems that participated in the analyses. Information will also be made available through the CUTR and NCTR websites and presentations at state and national conferences.


VIII.  Potential Benefits of the Project


Considering that most teenagers cannot drive and are dependent upon their parents/legal guardians and friends for transportation, teens comprise an under-exploited market share of users within the transit industry. A better understanding of why teens do and do not choose to use transit will provide valuable information to transit agencies seeking to increase teen transit use. Furthermore, familiarity among those who use public transportation as teenagers may provide a future transit market as this group ages. This research project will provide information regarding the history and current use of transit among teens; a better understanding of teen attitudes and perceptions of public transportation; a better understanding of parental/legal guardian attitudes and perceptions toward teen transit use; an assessment of what transit agencies are doing to market themselves to teens; and it will offer recommendations for increasing transit effectiveness and attractiveness to this under-exploited transit market.


IX.  TRB Keywords


Teenagers, parents/legal guardians, peer influence, transit, transit markets, attitudes, perceptions





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: