2012 National Transit Database

A few days ago, the Federal Transit Administration posted the 2012 National Transit Database. Data are downloadable in three formats. First, you can download profiles for every transit agency (21.3 MB). These give basic data such as trips, passenger miles, fares, and costs broken down by type of transit. If you don’t want to download the whole book, you can also download profiles for individual agencies by entering the agency name, city, or ID number in a search box (scroll down and look for “Individual Profiles” on the righthand column).

Second, you can download data tables, which present the data for all transit agencies in fairly user-friendly spreadsheets. All of the tables at once can be downloaded in a self-extracting exe file (4.1 MB), but my Macintosh doesn’t want to extract the spreadsheets. One problem with the data tables is that there are separate tables for trips, fares, operating costs, capital costs, and other data, so comparing the numbers is difficult.

Third, you can download database spreadsheets. These are more difficult to read than the data tables, but are easier to manipulate on a computer because every row on each spreadsheet follows a consistent format. Like the data tables, these spreadsheets can also be downloaded as one self-extracting exe file (5.1 MB).

While it is easier to do calculations on the database than the data tables, individual spreadsheets for trips, fares, operating costs, and capital costs don’t have a consistent number of rows. So I’ve combined the data that I use most often into a single summary spreadsheet (1.8 MB). This spreadsheet is similar to the ones I’ve made in previous years. If you aren’t familiar with those, then you need to know that the spreadsheet is divided into three main parts.

Part one, the first 1774 rows, consists of agency-by-agency data broken down by modes such as “MB” (motor bus) and “LR” (light rail). Part two summarizes the data by mode in rows 1778 through 1796 (and provides a key for what all those two-letter mode codes mean). Rows 1799 through 1817 provides the same summery but only includes data from agencies that submitted energy data. The calculations of energy and CO2 per passenger mile on these rows will be more accurate than in the first set of totals. Finally, part three summarizes the data by urbanized area in rows 1819 through 2299.

The columns are pretty similar to those used in the past, but I’ve included four or five new ones. Column A is the FTA’s agency ID number; B is the agency name; C is the mode; and D is whether the service is directly operated by the agency (DO) or purchased from other operators (PT). Column E is the agency’s headquarters city, F is urbanized area number, and G is the state. Columns H, I, and J is the population, density, and land area of the urbanized area each agency serves; these don’t match Census Bureau numbers but seem to be close to 2011 Census Bureau estimates.

Columns K through N are trips, passenger miles, vehicle revenue miles, and vehicle revenue hours. Column O is the number of days a year the agency operated (which I thought might be useful but probably isn’t). Column P through S are fares and costs. Columns T, U, and V are the number of vehicles, seats, and standing room, while W is the directional route miles of rail lines (divide by 2 to get route miles). All of these columns are straight from the database with no calculations.

The database includes energy use in kilowatt hours, gallons of various kinds of fuel, and other measures. I used standard factors to convert all of these to BTUs, which are shown in column X, and to carbon dioxide emissions in pounds in column Y. In the case of electric powered transit, I estimated CO2 emissions based on the mix of electricity produced in each state as published by the Department of Energy. Of course, electricity often crosses state lines, so this is only a first approximation.

All remaining columns are calculated from the previous ones, and include things like BTUs and CO2 per passenger mile and passenger miles per vehicle revenue mile, which is the average number of people on board each bus or rail car over the course of the year. This year, column AA shows carbon dioxide emissions in pounds per passenger mile (to be consistent with previous years) and column AB is in grams per passenger mile (which is the more usual format).

If you find this summary file useful and haven’t done so already, you may also want to download similar summary files for 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005. The formats are similar though some columns are included in later summaries that I didn’t include in earlier ones.


6 thoughts on “2012 National Transit Database

  1. OFP2003

    Do they have a “misery index” for all the negative features of the public transportation that keeps people away from riding it? There should be a column tracking the daily “Stink Index” a culmination of how many passengers per hours per station are repulsed by the odor. There should be a crime and violence index, how many fights per passenger-mile, how many smart-phone’s snatched per passenger mile. What about delays? Much like the “worst traffic” studies released every year they could track “Passenger Hours in a non-moving train.” Don’t forget the diseases that are spread in those crowded, closed in, under ventilated, rodent-occupied spaces. Can they measure the communication of disease between passengers? On a positive note, they could track hours of dozing per passenger mile. Surely, the slow, rocking trains will have the advantage over every other form of transit when you come to that criteria.

  2. Sandy Teal

    One of the best things about this website is seeing how excited the Antiplanner gets when a new data set is released. He is like a kid unwrapping a Christmas present. The Antiplanner is a true policy wonk. 🙂

  3. Fred_Z

    On what planet does anyone accept this dataset as accurate? The Obama administration is a bundle of lies, stuck together with lie glue, basted with lie gravy and with a crisp outer coating of lies.

    You may ask me how I can so distrust the Federal Transit Administration. I ask you, what evidence do you have that the Federal Transit Administration is telling the truth? He whom asserts must prove, and they don’t.

    “No matter how lavishly overpaid, civil servants everywhere are convinced that they are horribly underpaid — but all public employees have larceny in their hearts or they wouldn’t be feeding at the public trough. ”
    -Robert Heinlein

  4. msetty

    On what planet does anyone accept this dataset as accurate? The Obama administration is a bundle of lies, stuck together with lie glue, basted with lie gravy and with a crisp outer coating of lies.

    It seems to me that The Antiplanner is attracting an increasing number of know-it-all right wing assholes and idiots, such as this moron. I strongly disagree with The Antiplanner on a lot of things, but Fred-Z is slinging particularly smelly and vile bullshit here.

    Fred_Z, if you want any credibility at all and don’t want to be thought of as an Obama-hating ignoramus, please do some simple research like looking at the NTD website, before you shoot off your ill-informed, totally wrong “opinions.”

    The NTD “data set” (gee, you show that know at least one technical statistics term!) is NOT created by the Obama Administration, it is submitted annually by each individual transit operation to the Federal Transit Administration and goes into the formulas that the FTA uses to distribute money, among other things including The Antiplanner’s public service summarizing the NTD data is a more digestible form.

    To ensure the accuracy of the information they receive and make sure the agencies getting their money comply with the law, the FTA also does triennial reviews of each and every transit operator in which they have to prove they have reliable methods in place to accurately record statistical and financial data. AND every transit agency is required to have an annual fiscal audit, a requirement of EVERY state of EVERY local government agency in the U.S. I can assure you the NTD transit statistics are probably higher quality, DUE TO THE MANY WAYS THEY CHECK THE DATA BEFORE IT IS FINALLY SUBMITTED, than similar highway and a myriad of other transportation statistics collected by local or state governments and reported to the Federal Highway Administration and other federal bureaucracies every year.
    BTW, in a rational world, it wouldn’t be necessary to reply to insane right wing Obama-hating ignoramuses shooting their mouths off without any iota of facts to back up their moronic assertions. Fred, if you think I’m a “pro-government apologist” or some other such bullshit, WELL I DO NOT CARE, and you’ve simply proven to be another Obama-hating village idiot who came over to this blog from WND or some other online cesspool. Please go back under your rock or back into your fouled fever swamp.

  5. The Antiplanner Post author

    I’ll back up msetty here. There are a few questionable data in the database, and the FTA actually includes a spreadsheet listing these questionable numbers. Most of the numbers are easily verifiable. The only serious problems sometimes exist with ridership and passenger miles, which are usually based on surveys rather than actual counts; other numbers are based on things like odometer readings and actual revenues, which makes them hard to fake.

    I know of a couple of cases where data has been politicized, but they aren’t here.

  6. Dan

    Well, I’m not sure where the “blame Obummer for ever’thing” bot came from, but Randal has posted these data every year for….erm…years and no one here has a problem with it, and we appreciate the fact that he does so.

    Surely TownHall or World Nut Daily has a thread that will appreciate hearing how these data are ObummerlielieLIE!, but no one here does.


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