Want to increase transit ridership without adding service? Make it easy to get to the stations

By Eric Sundquist

As in the United States, many rail transit lines in Sydney, Australia, have imperfect connections to the local street and pedestrian networks. In Sydney, 44 of 178 rail transit stations have entrances on only one side, necessitating long walks for unlucky travelers seeking to get to the hard-to-reach platform.

A new report by Bahman Lahoorpoor and David Levinson of the University of Sydney calculates the potential benefit from adding missing links between stations and local networks at those 44 stations. They calculate the increase in accessibility to the platforms from surrounding neighborhoods (in terms of additional people and jobs accessible to the station within five-, 10- and 15-minute time bands), then they estimate the effect in ridership from that change.

Additional accessibility at Erskineville Station afforded by an additional link between the station and the local network (Lahroopoor and Levinson).

The report finds that the new links add 5 percent new morning boardings on average, with one station reaching 35 percent more boardings. It points out that this change could be even greater over time as more transit-oriented development might occur, catalyzed by the additional accessibility.

SSTI conducted a similar analysis, albeit without resulting ridership estimates, in our Connecting Sacramento report, which looked at station-to-neighborhood barriers in the California capital. We also reported on a real-world case where accessibility to transit was increased via the opening of a new link to the Quincy, MA, MBTA station.

Eric Sundquist is Director of SSTI.