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Hampton Roads Regional Transit Benchmarking Study

Hampton Roads Regional Transit Benchmarking Study

The Hampton Roads Regional Transit Benchmarking Study focuses on regional public transit planning. The objectives of the study were to compare the performance of Hampton Roads’ transit agencies to similar agencies nationwide to provide a baseline against which future performance can be compared. HRTPO staff coordinated with Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), Williamsburg Area Transit Authority (WATA), and Suffolk Transit during development of the study.


Peer Agency Comparisons:


The Hampton Roads Regional Transit Benchmarking Study compares each of the three public transit agencies in Hampton Roads to “peer” agencies across the Nation for the following measures:


  • Ridership
  • Riders per Revenue Hour
  • Riders per Revenue Mile
  • Operating Expenses per Rider
  • Fare Revenue per Rider
  • Farebox Recovery Ratio


The transit agencies were scored on each of these six measures to produce a composite score and final rank for all agencies within the three groups (HRT, WATA, and Suffolk Transit). Tables 1-3 list the peer agencies for each group in order by final rank.

Table 1: HRT Peer Agency Rankings (2005-20014)  click here

Table 2: Suffolk Transit Peer Agency Rankings (2005-20014) click here

Table 3: WATA Peer Agency Rankings (2005-2014) click here

Case studies were conducted for three of the five top performing peer agencies (highlighted in purple) to identify possible reasons for their top-tier performance for the measures studied.



Observations from the study include:


  • Financial support from community organizations such as hospitals, educational institutions, and large employers tends to contribute to higher ridership numbers.


  • Special taxes and fees provide additional sources of revenue for some transit agencies. Most of the case study agencies had a special fee or tax as a part of their overall operating funds matrices.


  • Park-n-ride lots tend to contribute to additional utilization of bus services.


  • Each of the top ranked agencies in the WATA group had a service area that contained a university or college.  In many cases, the institution of higher education contributed directly to the local transit agency in exchange for rides for students, faculty, and employees of the school who presented a valid identification document.


 Future Study


A public transit working group was formed that consists of representatives from HRTPO staff, local transit agencies, and interested localities to help guide the selection of topics for further research that may include:


  • A more detailed analysis of local economic and geographic profiles of the top ranked and local agencies.


  • Focused research on customer amenities and how they may affect ridership (ex. number of shelters vs. number of bus stops).


  • An in-depth analysis of the dedicated funding sources of the top ranked peer agencies.


  • Examination of the effect that the presence of high-capacity transit has on bus ridership and levels of service.


  • Research on the effects of average fleet age and percent of annual breakdowns of equipment on ridership.


A link to the full report can be found at:




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