California is counting on public transit to help meet its ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion. Yet despite large public investments in bus and rail service, the state’s transit ridership is on the decline. ITS scholars are at the forefront of research into mass transit, from its funding and planning to passenger trends to the rider’s safety and experience, informing policymaking aimed at getting more people on board.

Lead Scholars

Brian D. Taylor
Brian D. TaylorDirector of ITS / Professor of Urban Planning
Evelyn Blumenberg
Evelyn BlumenbergDirector of Lewis Center / Professor of Urban Planning
Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris
Anastasia Loukaitou-SiderisProfessor of Urban Planning
Michael Manville
Michael ManvilleAssociate Professor of Urban Planning
Martin Wachs
Martin WachsDistinguished Professor Emeritus

The Latest

Transit Blues in the Golden State: Analyzing Recent California Ridership Trends
UCLA ITS – 2020

What’s Behind Recent Transit Ridership Trends in the Bay Area?
UCLA ITS — 2020

How to Stay Safer on Mass Transit
The New York Times — 2020

Improving Transit Equity in L.A. During the Pandemic
Streetsblog LA— 2020

Post-pandemic public transit may not end up looking all that different—but its goals may have to change
Fast Company — 2020

Mass transit systems desperate for financial relief as riders stay home
The Hill — 2020

The Mystery of the Missing Bus Riders
The New York Times — 2020

Sometimes Red Means Go—When It Comes to Bus Rides
Wired — 2019

Every bus in this country deserves its own lane
Curbed — 2019

The future of America’s worst freeway
Mashable — 2019

Op-Ed: L.A.’s slow buses aren’t just shedding riders, they’re becoming climate liabilities
LA Times — 2019

How Cities Are Trying to Reinvent the Bus
The Wall Street Journal — 2019

Starting in Los Angeles, Body Scanners Come to Subways and Buses
The New York Times — 2018

Falling Transit Ridership Poses an ‘Emergency’ for Cities, Experts Fear
Washington Post — 2018

Southern Californians Are on a Car-Buying Spree, and That’s Cutting Deeply Into Transit Ridership, Study Says
Los Angeles Times — 2018

More Poorer Residents Are Driving Cars, Presenting New Issues for Transit Agencies
Governing — 2018

Why is L.A. Expanding Transit — and Losing Riders?
CityLab — 2018

Why the #MeToo Movement is a Public Transportation Issue
Washington Post — 2017

Can the Valley’s Orange Line — the Nation’s Most Successful BRT — Get Any Respect?
Curbed — 2017

The Capital of Car Culture, Los Angeles Warms to Mass Transit
New York Times — 2016

Don’t Change the Orange Line to Rail — Improve It First
Los Angeles Times — 2016

TV Finally Gets On Board With Mass Transit
National Public Radio — 2016

How to Make LA Buses and Subway a Safer Place
KPCC — 2015

Public Transit’s Dirty Little Secret: Most Transit Users Are Poor
Brian D. Taylor, Eric A. Morris — 2014


Selected Research Publications

A Taste for Transit? Analyzing Public Transit Use Trends Among Youth
Anne E. Brown, Evelyn Blumenberg, Brian D. Taylor, Kelcie Ralph, Carole Turley Voulgaris — 2016
The past decade has seen a decline in driving among youth. Does this portend an increase in public transit ridership? While young adults are more likely to ride transit than older adults, analyzing patterns of youth transit use show that life cycle, demographic, and locational factors suggest that travel behavior established early in life may not necessarily persist as people age.

Does Transit Mean Business? Reconciling Economic, Organizational, and Political Perspectives on Variable Transit Fares
Allison C. Yoh, Brian D. Taylor, John Gahbauer — 2015
Transit fares can vary by mode, distance, and time to reflect the marginal costs of providing transit service, increasing the efficiency and equity of transit service. Recent advances in smartcard fare collection technologies have reduced the operational obstacles to charging variable fares, yet relatively few transit agencies are doing so. Why are transit managers and their governing boards so reluctant to adopt variable fare policies?

Why Do Voters Support Public Transportation? Public Choices and Private Behavior
Michael Manville, Benjamin Cummins — 2014
Support for transportation sales tax elections is often used as a proxy for public support for transit. But many voters who support such taxes do not support increased transit spending, and many people who support transit spending do not support increased sales taxes to finance it. Transit spending is more correlated with belief in its collective rather than private benefits, as most transit spending supporters do not use transit and are unlikely to begin doing so. Can this collective action problem be solved?

Public Transportation Objectives and Rider Demographics: Are Transit’s Priorities Poor Public Policy?
Brian D. Taylor, Eric A. Morris — 2014
Strong public and political support for mass transit in the U.S. is based on lofty goals, including congestion reduction, economic development, aesthetics, sustainability, and much more. Yet the pursuit of multiple and broad objectives, however worthy, can diffuse efforts and fail to achieve desired results. How can policymakers focus on the needs of transit riders themselves, particularly the poor and transit-dependent?

Other Research

Recent Projects

Infographic of key takeaways from CA Transit Ridership study