Transit Walk Sheds and Ridership
Metro cares about transit walk sheds because more households accessible to transit by walking translates directly into more ridership.
We’ve been focusing a lot on transit walk sheds lately. We’ve shown that the size of a transit walk shed depends heavily on the roadway network and pedestrian infrastructure, and that these sizes vary dramatically by Metrorail station. We’ve also demonstrated that expanding the walkable area can make hundreds of households walkable to transit.
But why do we care so much about walk sheds? Because larger walk sheds mean more households in the walk shed, and that means ridership. For example, we’d be hard pressed to find many households in Landover’s small walk shed, so it’s no surprise that walk ridership at that station is low. On the other hand, thousands of households are within a reasonable walk to Takoma’s larger walk shed, and walk ridership there is much higher.
In other words, the more people can walk to transit, the more people do walk to transit – and data across Metrorail stations prove it:
The chart above shows that the number of households in a Metrorail station entrance’s walk shed is highly correlated with AM Peak walk ridership at that station. In fact, the number of households walkable to a Metrorail station alone explains nearly 70% of the variation in walk ridership across Metrorail stations.
This is a simple univariate correlation, but research currently underway at Metro will control for other factors using statistical techniques, and allow us to predict ridership as a result of households.
In part because walk access is so critical to ridership growth, our new Connecting Communities KPI (PDF) will evaluate how well the region adheres to its plans to promote the highest and best use of the land around Metrorail stations by growing and improving walk access to transit.