Transit boarding is the common term used to account for passengers of public transit systems. The only reliable way to define and count passengers is to define each person boarding as a passenger. In many cases these individuals will have to transfer to an additional vehicle to reach their destination and may well use transit for the return trip completing a round trip.
There are typically two different ways that transit ridership is collected and reported. Virtually all agencies have a farebox that automatically counts each fare payment and/or the operator tabs in each passenger. This data is collected on each vehicle when it is in operation. Its accuracy is dependent on the reliability of the equipment, the diligence of the operator and the operating policy regarding counting various types of passengers. This source of data provides agencies with quick available data typically aggregated by month for management reports. In addition, transit properties that receive federal funding may sample ridership to produce annual counts that are used in formula funding allocations. This prescribed sampling plan is intended to provide a statistically accurate annual measure of ridership based on a designed sample that should proportionately capture various routes and times of day. This count is produced annually and often lags the collection of data by several months to allow for submittal, review, and publication. For the purpose of the Indicators Web page, the farebox ridership counts are used.
This indicator shows the monthly transit ridership for the United States in millions (M). The source for this data is American Public Transportation Association's Monthly Ridership Report. It shows monthly ridership data and is updated with a lag time of four months.