The Difference Between Bus Riders and Train Riders

The characteristics of the average L.A. transit user depends on what form of transit they use.

Image
Reuters

Not all transit riders are the same. New figures out from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority highlight the sometimes glaring differences between the people using buses and trains.

Racially, demographically and economically, the people riding transit in L.A. have markedly different characteristics depending on what form of transit they use. Bus riders tend to have lower incomes and fewer transportation options. Train riders are richer and whiter.

The stats are based on surveys Metro conducts every year. This year's results are based on more than 20,000 responses from bus and train riders. With 183 bus lines and five train lines spreading over a service area that's more than 1,400 square miles, some people are probably riding a combination of bus and rail. But according to the survey, about half of bus riders and more than 40 percent of train riders don't transfer regularly. A lot of people are on single-segment trips of either bus or rail. Bus lines carry about 75 percent of the system's riders, so there's a larger pool of data on them. 

There are a lot of really interesting findings in here, but these stand out and highlight the different lifestyles and experiences of L.A.'s train riders versus bus riders:

81 percent – Passengers who feel safe waiting for a bus
84 percent – Passengers who feel safe waiting for a train
87 percent – Passengers who feel safe when riding either a bus or a train

25 percent – Bus riders who had a car available to make their current transit trip (10-year average)
45 percent – Train riders who had a car available to make their current transit trip (10-year average)

52:48 – Female-to-male gender ratio among bus riders
46:54 – Female-to-male gender ratio among train riders

$14,423 – Median household income of bus riders in 2012
$26,250 – Median household income of train riders in 2012

14 percent – How much smaller the share of Latino riders is on trains versus buses
8 percent – How much smaller the share of White riders is on buses versus trains

Top images: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

About the Author

  • Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.