Citi Bike docking station

NYC bikeshare is associated with bus ridership drop

Bicycle-sharing is associated with a decrease in bus ridership, according to a new research paper.

Kayleigh B. Campbell of Columbia University and Candace Brakewood of the City College of New York examined the impact of Citi Bike on bus ridership in New York City. For every 1,000 bikesharing docks installed along bus routes in Manhattan and Brooklyn, daily unlinked bus trips dropped 2.42% or approximately 18,100 trips.

In addition to reducing bus ridership among Citi Bike members, the researchers speculate that the availability of bikesharing has affected the mobility choices of non-members as well. “For example, if bikeshare users substitute away from buses, a reduction in bus passengers and crowding could encourage a new group of travelers to begin riding the bus, which could minimize the overall impact on bus ridership,” they write. “In another scenario, opening a bikesharing system could encourage people to ride private bicycles more, particularly if they now perceive the city to be more bike-friendly. If these trips would otherwise have been made by bus, then there could be a reduction in bus ridership at a rate greater than one-to-one.”

The decrease in bus ridership should not deter cities from implementing bikesharing programs, the researchers conclude.  They write:

Instead, the knowledge of how these systems are interrelated is vital for planning a mutually reinforcing sustainable transport network. We hope that a better understanding of the relationship between these two different modes encourages agencies who traditionally operate separately to create more integrated systems that support the reality of multimodal, shared transportation systems.

The research did not explore the impact of ride-hailing services on bus ridership and bike-sharing, and the authors called for further study in this area.

“As new shared mobility services expand in urban areas, it’s important to understand how they interact with existing forms of passenger transportation such as transit,” Brakewood told The Transit Wire.  Further illustrating the complexity of the interaction, Brakewood’s previous research indicated that the availability of real-time information increased bus ridership. That study, also conducted in New York City, documented an average increase of 2% after controlling for external factors like Citi Bike launch and Hurricane Sandy.

The paper was published in the journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice. Download the research paper here.

Photo credit: Susan Mara Bregman

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One Response to NYC bikeshare is associated with bus ridership drop

  1. Kayleigh B Campbell May 9, 2017 at 1:00 pm #

    Nice write-up! Thanks for the coverage.

    While we can’t explicitly control for ride-hailing services, we do use a number of techniques to control for the potential impact they would have. Definitely check out the paper here and contact me if interested in talking more:

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