Assumptions Behind Ridership Forecasts for High Speed Ground Transportation Systems and Their Validity: The California-Nevada Case Study

by Ramakrishna R. Tadi,
Murthy V. A. Bondada,
Paul Balbach,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: High Speed Ground Transportation Systems I: Planning and Engineering


Accurate prediction of ridership is one of the key elements for approval of any transit project and eventually for survival after the system begins operation. This is particularly true in the case of major high speed ground transportation projects which are very capital intensive. Experience of most of the existing transit systems in the U.S. indicates that ridership forecasts are way above the actual ridership resulting in reluctance for funding of any new projects by Federal Government as well as by private developers. When presented with a new choice of transit system, a range of variation should be seriously considered for each of the major input parameters used in developing the market demand forecast, in view of known uncertainties in projecting population, employment, cost, future economy or human behavior. Also, the social structure and travel patterns in the U.S. should not be blindly considered to be the same as those of other countries such as Japan and Germany when comparing the ridership forecasts of their existing transit systems, which are very successful, with the proposed High Speed Ground Transportation (HSGT) systems in the U.S. Finally, the California-Nevada High Speed Rail project is discussed as a case study with all the assumptions in its ridership forecasting model.

Subject Headings: Case studies | Ridership | Forecasting | Transportation studies | Rail transportation | Project management | Mathematical models | Rapid transit systems | Japan | Asia | Germany | Europe | Nevada | United States

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