Obtaining Records from Public Transit Systems

Because public transit is taxpayer funded, these companies are subject to state public records laws.  Relevant to companies vying for contracts or riders who want to understand why fares are increasing, these records can provide insight into how public transit is operated.

Some transit systems have started putting operations-related documents online. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro), for example, has a dedicated public records section on its web site where you can download budgets, contracts, audit reports, ridership statistics and more.  If your local transit company does not have online records, you can submit a written request or ask to view the records in person at the transit agency’s offices.

Rider-specific records are private information, accessible to the individual who created the data or through subpoena only.  Station entry and exit times and locations are typically logged for those using frequent rider cards. In the Bay Area, card users can request their personal ridership log from the past 30 days. Older records are kept on hand for statistical purposes or in the event of a court subpoena. (The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system operates the Clipper program, previously called Translink and EZ Rider.)

A BART ridership log is attached. Click on the PDF below to find out what information is included for BART riders and keep in mind that other systems with transit access cards will collect similar data.