Characteristics of Atlanta Transit Ridership

You may have seen mentions in the press of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s recently published “Regional On-Board Transit Survey”, which claims to be the largest such study ever conducted in the nation with over 50,000 participants.  (Actually, I think I was one of the participants a while back.)  Riders of MARTA and six metro area bus systems were surveyed.

As such, it’s a big dang report and a variety of Atlanta news outlets have been highlighting different elements of it.

Of particular note is the AJC’s rather odd chicken-or-the-egg perspective at the lack of suburban riders who utilize mass transit on Thursday.  (See the map from the report above, which indicates where transit rider commutes began.)

I say, draw your own conclusions.  Here are a few interesting summary tidbits ripped straight from the final report

  • VEHICLE AVAILABILITY: Over 40% of transit riders surveyed indicated that they have no access to a vehicle. Almost a third (32%) have access to one vehicle, and about 27% have access to multiple vehicles. None of the transit riders surveyed indicated access to more than 3 vehicles.
  • VEHICLE ACCESS: Consistent with the vehicle availability question; over 40% of those surveyed have no access to a vehicle. Of the remaining 60%, over half said that they could have used an available vehicle for their trip – making them transit riders by choice.
  • HOUSEHOLD EMPLOYMENT: Most (52.9%) of the transit riders surveyed are from households with 2 or more employed persons. Households with no employed persons represented only 8.6% of those surveyed. The most frequent responses were those for two worker households (39.3%), and one worker households (38.6%).
  • EMPLOYMENT: Almost three-fourths (74.5%) of all the riders surveyed indicated that “Yes” they were employed. The remaining fourth (25.5%) of riders indicated that they were not employed.

  • STUDENT STATUS: Slightly less than a third (30.6%) of all the riders surveyed indicated that they were students.
  • AGE: Over 50% of those transit riders surveyed are between 18 and 34 years old; with those between 18 and 24 years old representing the largest single group at 26.3%.
  • INCOME: The most frequently reported income category was $20,000 to $29,000 per year. The range of $30,000 – $39,999 was the second largest income range while below $5,000 was the third largest segment. Over a third of the transit riders (35.7%) have a total annual household income less than 20,000 while 12.6% had a total annual household income over $75,000.
  • RACE: More than 70% of transit riders surveyed identified themselves as African American/Black. Almost 21% of riders surveyed identified themselves as White. Those identifying themselves as Asians, American Indians, and Other represented more than 8% of riders.
  • ACCESSING TRANSIT: Almost three-fourths (72%) of those surveyed indicated that they got to transit for the start of their trip by walking; 11% drove a car and parked and 14% were dropped-off by someone else who drove a vehicle.
  • COUNTY OF TRIP ORIGIN: Sixty-one percent (61%) of the transit trips in the region originated in Fulton County while 25% of the trips originated in DeKalb County. Five percent (5%) of the transit trips county of origin was Clayton County. Almost four percent (4%) of the transit trips originated in Cobb County and three percent (3%) originated in Gwinnett County.

3 thoughts on “Characteristics of Atlanta Transit Ridership”


  1. Very interesting info! Thanks DM!

    My goodness! Ariel Hart must just be exhausted from thinking about MARTA! How on earth could she really be wondering if there’s a need for extending the train routes? The interstates gridlock is featured on the local news every dadgum day!

    It’s been good to have at least had the transit question raised during the debates. Media folks: Press them on it BIG TIME leading up to the General Election! Make it clear to all Gold Dome folks that MARTA/Transit is a top priority y’all aren’t going to shut up about until they fix it!

    Grrr.

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