Study finds income affects bus ridership in bad weather | 11/7/2018 | Staff
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Temperature extremes and heavy rain reduce weekday bus ridership in Lane County, except in low-income neighborhoods where residents have few alternatives for transportation, according to a University of Oregon study.

When broken down, subtleties in the findings may help midsized communities consider how they might need to adjust their bus services in the face of climate forecasts that call for an increase in extreme weather events, said Nicole Ngo, a professor in the UO's School of Planning, Public Policy and Management.

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"I think this study is a starting point, especially with the income effects that we found," Ngo said. "In Eugene, university students get easy access to bus service, but other people without access to private vehicles rely on bus service. It is especially important on days of heavy precipitation, especially in Eugene when bike paths are flooded and riding is dangerous."

The study looked at Lane Transit District data from some 32 million observations, based on automatic passenger counters, at more than 1,300 bus stops in 2012-17. It was a stable period in which major adjustments did not affect the LTD's 62 routes. The dataset, Ngo said, allowed her to make associations based on the locations of bus stops in different income areas.

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Because of the region's temperate climate, Ngo focused on days in which temperatures fell below 50 degrees or rose above 85 degrees. Rainfall was considered heavy if more than one-half inch fell in a day. Because major snow events are rare, they were not analyzed in the study.

On cold weekdays, bus ridership decreased by 5.7 percent, while on cold weekends the overall dip was less than 1 percent. On hot weekdays, overall ridership fell 2.2 percent; on weekends, hot-weather reduced ridership fell by 1.1 percent. Income factors made for differences.

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"I wanted to explore the effect of extreme weather on ridership,...
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