The number of times a bus or train is scheduled to stop (trips) at a transit stop in the City of St. Louis as part of its weekday or weekend route
Residents of majority-black and majority-white census tracts have similar frequency of transit service.
A score of 100 represents racial equity, meaning there are no racial disparities in outcomes. The lower the Equity Score, the greater the disparity.
For Transit Frequency, a score of 100 — a score reflecting racial equity — would mean majority-black and majority-white census tracts receive equal frequency of service. It is important to note that for this indicator, equity is not our only goal; we also want to improve outcomes for all.
What does this indicator measure?
Transit Frequency measures the number of times a bus or train is scheduled to stop (trips) at a transit stop in the City of St. Louis as part of its weekday or weekend route. The more trips there are, the shorter the wait time between trips and the more alternative routes a person has to get to their destination. In 2018, there were nearly 37 million trips annually in St. Louis, which equates to 347,000 trips per census tract.
Transit Frequency Analysis
Annual service frequency (in trips) by census tract in St. Louis City.
|All||Majority White||Majority Black||Disparity Ratio||Equity Score|
|Annual transit service frequency (in trips)||36,794,924||13,970,064||17,898,741||-||-|
|Annual transit service frequency per census tract||347,122||349,252||344,207||1.015 to 1||96|
Data Source: Bi-State Development Agency, 2018.
What does this analysis mean?
Majority-white and majority-black census tracts have similar frequency of service. On an annual basis, majority-white census tracts receive transit service 266,641 times per year while majority-black census tracts receive transit service 260,419 times per year. In no-majority areas (where there is no majority race), residents receive transit service 447,829 times per year. St. Louis’ most diverse neighborhoods are in the downtown corridor and other commercial hubs where higher transit service is to be expected. If transit frequency were equitable, there would be 5,045 more transit service trips in each of the majority-black census tracts per year.
Data Note: There are 106 census tracts within the City of St. Louis, but Bi-State data included only 103 census tracts.
Why does Transit Frequency matter?
The Ferguson Commission states, “Public transit is a key to expanding opportunity for all St. Louisans. A safe, reliable, affordable, and efficient public transportation system can increase access to health care, education, and employment.” Transit Frequency is a key component of transit reliability. Frequency of service matters a great deal to those who rely on public transit to get to work and for households without cars. On weekdays, transit stops citywide receive 35 trips per day. That means there is an average wait time of 34 minutes between trips for fixed-route services during operating hours.
While Bi-State Development Agency currently provides equitable levels of service between majority-black and majority-white areas, there is greater demand and use for public transit in majority-black census tracts. According to the 2016 American Community Survey, there are 14,000 residents of St. Louis City that work but whose household does not have access to a vehicle. Workers who live in majority-black census tracts are three times more likely than workers in majority-white census tracts to not have a vehicle in their household. Given that, it should be no surprise that workers in majority-black census tracts are four times more likely than workers in majority-white census tracts to take public transit. All in all, workers who live in majority-black census tracts make up 60% of the estimated 14,400 city residents who commute via public transit.
Which Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission report are linked with this indicator?
Transportation is a signature priority of the Ferguson Commission to address economic inequality. The Ferguson Commission calls to action related to public transit include:
Questions for further investigation
- How can we increase Transit Frequency?
- What can St. Louis do to reduce racial disparities in Transit Frequency?
- What initiatives are currently underway to reduce racial disparities in Transit Frequency?
How can I learn more about this issue?
Each year East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWG) develops a Transportation Improvement Plan for the St. Louis region. While Bi-State Development Agency produces annual reports which summarize accomplishments and projects for the region, they rarely discuss transit service frequency.
Citizens for Modern Transit leads advocacy efforts for an integrated, affordable, and convenient public transportation system with light rail expansion as the critical component that will drive economic growth to improve quality of life in the St. Louis region.
Mobility For All By All is an interdisciplinary project based at Washington University in St. Louis which seeks to develop a series of equity metrics and engage residents to develop and execute site-specific collaborative community projects.