Public transit ridership forecasts have long played a role in understanding the potential success of a policy or investment, but their limitations have led researchers and practitioners to identify other performance analysis approaches. Accessibility, or the ease of reaching opportunities, has become very popular and widely used for this purpose. But commonly used accessibility measures also embody weaknesses that are seldom acknowledged; these limit their utility for truly understanding the benefits of transit investments. In this paper, we identify the pros and cons of these competing approaches and offer a third strategy. Specifically, we describe how revealed travel behavior data, potentially combined with near-term forecasts, can provide information about how current public transit users will be affected by a new project. While acknowledging the limitations of this approach, we demonstrate how accessibility can be misleading when applied without an understanding of ridership patterns.
Journal of Public Transportation 24 (2022) 100019