Ridership Intensity Analysis

Ever wonder who actually rides transit? No longer! The answer has arrived:

Cincinnati 2008 transit ridership density

Main lines overlaid on an analysis of the intensity of transit (de)boardings. Data is from an average weekday in 2008.

Well, at least to the spatial portion of the question. And for four years ago.

This map is an analysis of the number of people passing through each stop, whether boarding or de-boarding. Don’t try and count the numbers and compute that into the total number of people. It doesn’t quite work like that. Each stop adds it’s number of riders to the pixels above it and increasingly less to the pixels further and further from it. This gives us an impression of intensity if not an exact value. The data is here.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

It’s all centered in Downtown. Notice that the scale on this map has three different levels. The first couple colours are taking baby steps. The second level, light grey through black, steps up in increments of 300. The third level starts moving in increments in the thousands, and changes it’s colours to something more saturated to indicate that break. Downtown is HOT. Indeed, Downtown is an order of magnitude more intense than the next biggest cluster at the Intersection of Calhoun and Clifton in CUF. That is, it’s ten times as intense, centered of course, right on Government Square.

downtown cincinnati heat map of transit ridership

Almost without exception, all of the other major clusters are business districts. I couldn’t find the exact location of business districts(I swear I have that file lying around somewhere…) but from my memory, each one of the more intense clusters is a neighborhood commercial district.

uptown cincinnati transit ridership

Here you can see CUF(s), Clifton(Ludlow), Nortshide, Norwood, Walnut Hills and the Avondales pretty clearly.

This holds even for a long stretched out district like that on Glenway

glenway cincinnati transit ridership density

Neighbourhood business districts(NBDs) are generally denser though too, so density can’t be discounted here as a partial if not completely central factor. One clear exception to the NBD trend is University Hospital, which has it’s own pretty strong following:

uc hospital cincinnati transit ridership density

Implications: Maybe the proposed uptown transit ‘hub’ shouldn’t be on Jefferson, but instead in the Clifton Heights business district. It has significantly more riders than the cluster in Corryville. Not overwhelmingly so, but still.

cuf versus corrville transit ridership

CUF is on the left, Corryville the right

This also raises questions about the proposed realignments of several lines. CUF is slated to get significantly less service with the removal of the 51 and 19 from it’s bounds and Corryville will get significantly more. Will Corryville then see higher ridership numbers as a result of better service? Likely. CUF, probably less. The same consideration should be in effect for the streetcar. It won’t be going up W Clifton toward the most existing riders, but up Vine toward somewhat less riders.

Also, at a glance the West Side doesn’t seem to have the ridership to justify the frequency of service they receive relative to the rest of the city. That inclines me to believe that some of that service is in place for the purpose of coverage. That is to say, poorer people on the west side get better access to transit than their numbers would indicate they deserve because the cost for them of going without transit is significantly higher. I bet census data on car ownership would back this up.

What interesting things do y’all see in here? Pick it apart and leave some things in the comments!

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