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Frequency Matters First, you really must understand transit frequency.It’s the elapsed time between consecutive buses (or trains, or ferries) on a line, which determines the maximum waiting time.This is usually because either (a) someone feels entitled to service (“We pay taxes too!”) or (b) someone needs the service really badly (“If you cut this bus, we’ll be trapped.”).We know which lines in the New Network are intended for high ridership, and those are the ones where we’ll expect that outcome.

But transit authorities are rarely directed to maximize ridership as their primary goal, so they’re not failing if they don’t.Here’s a simple scatterplot with a dot for each bus route in a whole bunch of US agencies where my firm has had occasion to collect data.Note that higher frequency ( on the X axis) correlates with high productivity (ridership per unit of service cost). Double the frequency of a line and you’ve doubled its operating cost, so you would expect high frequency to pull productivity .People who are used to getting around by a private vehicle (car or bike) often underestimate the importance of frequency, because there isn’t an equivalent to it in their experience.A private vehicle is ready to go when you are, but transit is not going until it comes.

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