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Bay Area Regional Transit Passenger Snapshot Survey Underway

Noah Berger

To reestablish a baseline understanding of the region’s post-pandemic Bay Area transit ridership, MTC is now surveying public transit users. The information collected is part of MTC’s overall Survey Program and helps MTC make transportation planning decisions.

MTC has conducted similar surveys in the past but is taking a fresh look at passenger habits in the wake of the pandemic. Since 2019, Bay Area transit ridership has changed significantly. Not only have boarding volumes decreased substantially, but riders’ demographics, frequency of trip-making, trip purposes and other traveler/trip characteristics have also changed compared to pre-pandemic conditions.

From 2012-2019, MTC implemented an intensive recurring transit passenger data collection program. This approach yielded a thorough and robust regional dataset but required five to six years to complete a full cycle of data collection. This survey that is currently underway will be much shorter with data available by next summer.

This “Snapshot Survey” uses simpler data collection methods, with a limited set of questions compared to previous more time-consuming efforts. Bus, ferry and train passengers fill out the paper-and-pencil survey, which takes ten minutes or less to complete.

The survey is being conducted on 23 of the 25 regional transit agencies that get pass-through federal funding from MTC. Golden Gate Transit and the ACE train conducted their own surveys. The surveying periods vary by operator. The full effort will be completed in the field by late May 2024.

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