5. Conclusions and Implications
The analysis of the descriptive data and the origin-destination pattern shows that the travel patterns of SMARTís riders is different in each area.
In Fairlane: Most of the riders are willing to use the bus and they do so more for work and school purposes than social reasons. The population that uses this service is from all age groups, although from the O-D analysis we can see that the majority of the older population live in the area of Dearborn Hights and donít intend to use the linehaul bus. The riders use the service for some cross boundary trips but mainly within the area of Fairlane. Ridership is lower in areas where the population is more wealthy and where this a large elderly population.
In Groesback, the majority of the riders are willing to use the linehaul buses, frequently traveling between the city and the suburbs for work purposes. This service provide transit primarily to the working population; therefore the proportion of the elderly population (65 and older) is relatively small. In this area both black and white people use the service. Their income which is reflected by the property value and rent is average and below.
In Northland, riders travel for purposes of work and school as well as for social reasons. Most of the passengers in this area did not express willingness to use a linehaul bus. This might reflect the tendency of the elderly population to refrain from using linehaul busses, preferring instead to rely on paratransit for small trips. From the O-D analysis we learn that the population in the Northland area is more white and wealthy than the two other areas. The riders of this service tend not to travel outside their community or to down town Detroit.
The first part of the study provides information about the socio-demographic characteristics of the riders, while the second part combines O-D information with census track data. A combination of field research and census track information allows us to pose key questions and consider the policy implications:
Why there is no traffic flow between northland and the city? Is there a demand for this type of travel which SMART is not accommodating? Why does the elderly population tend not to use linehaul services? It seems that SMART should provide transit that will better accommodate an older population.
There is a high level of ridership between the city of Detroit and Macomb county. As these riders are primarily people travelling back and forth to work everyday, SMART would be wise to invest in ways to improve this service by reducing wait times at transfer points.