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  • Deeper Dives
  • Infrastructure
  • 2020

Transit RidershipTampa Bay


  • Transit commuters are far less prevalent in Tampa Bay vis-a-vis the nation as a whole, with only 1.1% of workers using transit to get to work 
  • Tampa Bay transit riders are more likely to be black or African American than the typical commuter. 
  • There are several penalties- negative outcomes- associated with Tampa Bay transit commutes: Longer duration commutes, a greater likelihood of having a commute of 1+ hour or more, lower median earnings, and a higher risk of poverty. 

Tampa Bay’s Regional Competitiveness Report metrics for transit– Transit Ridership per Capita (demand) and Transit Vehicle Revenue per Capita (supply) have resided at the bottom of the rankings in all three editions of the report. Yet while Tampa Bay workers and residents have significantly less access to transit service than their counterparts in the comparison areas, transit remains an integral part of many residents commute to work. The tables and charts in this deeper dive attempt to paint a picture of the Tampa Bay transit commuter, providing county desegregation where possible (and for which Tampa Bay is the aggregate of the counties listed) in comparisons to the state and nation for context. 

Source: Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2018 1-Year Estimates, S0802 

Commute Share

Tampa Bay commuters are generally less likely to utilize monetarized alternatives- carpooling or transit -to single occupancy vehicles than their counterparts statewide, and far less likely to utilize transit than commuters nationally. Tampa Bay’s transit mode split for commuters is roughly one-fifth of the national average. 

Note: The analysis focuses on monetized commutes and does not include walking or cycling as modal options. Note also that the axis starts at 75%, to better show non-single occupancy vehicle options. 

Commuters by Race/Ethnicity

While data limitations prevent a full analysis along all census designated racial categories, the available information reports for Tampa Bay: Black or African American, non-Hispanics constitute 12% of all commuters, but they account for 36% of transit commuters, a threefold increase. 

Commute Time by Commute Mode

Similar to national and state trends, Tampa Bay’s nontransit commuters report travel times much shorter in duration than those that commute via transit. Polk County is an exception in this regard, although, for context, Polk County has the lowest transit split mode (0.33%) of any of the Tampa Bay counties and reportable data. 

Share of Commuters with 1+ Hour Commute by Commute Mode

In Tampa Bay, commuters using transit are roughly 3.5 times more likely to have a commute of one hour or greater in duration. The difference is most pronounced in the relatively (for Tampa Bay) transit rich counties of Pinellas in Hillsborough where transit commuters are roughly 5 and 4 times more likely, respectively, to spend an hour or more on their commute. Access all modes, Tampa Bay commuters are less likely to have a commute in excess of an hour than their state or national counterparts. 

Median Earnings by Commute Mode

Tampa Bay transit commuters, by and large, earn significantly less than their carpooling and solo driving counterparts. In some cases Hillsborough and Pinellas transit commuters earn roughly half of workers who drive to work alone. While this general phenomenon (Sarasota with a low transit mode split appears to be an outlier) is repeated at the state level, transit commuters across the nation have no appreciable difference in earnings versus single occupant vehicle commuters. 

Poverty Status of Commuters by Commute Mode

Given the correlation between transit commute and low median earnings, it follows that there is a connection between transit commutes and poverty status. In Tampa Bay, transit commuters are three times as likely as solo commuters to be at 150% or below the federal poverty level, a commonly used to statistic to measure residents of low-income households. Florida commuters generally match their Tampa Bay counterparts in this regard, but a national scale, transit commuters are only 50% more likely to be at or below 150$ of the poverty level.