Transit Vehicle Reliability

Transit Vehicle Reliability

Transit service1 interruptions due to mechanical failures remained relatively level from 1995 through 2000,2 averaging between 18 and 19 mechanical problems per 100,000 revenue vehicle-miles [1, 2] (figure 8-7).

Among transit vehicles, buses and light rail had the highest rates of mechanical failure in 2000. Buses broke down an average of 28 times per 100,000 revenue vehicle-miles, while light-rail vehicles broke down 15 times per 100,000 revenue vehicle-miles. Light-rail vehicle breakdowns have changed the most since 1995. In that year, there were 32 mechanical failures per 100,000 revenue vehicle-miles. The rate of failure then dropped 56 percent to 14 per 100,000 revenue vehicle-miles by 1998.


1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, National Summaries and Trends (Washington, DC: Annual issues), also available at, as of April 2003.

2. U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, National Transportation Statistics 2002 (Washington, DC: 2002), table 1-32 and Transit Profile, also available at, as of April 2003.

1 Here transit service includes light rail, commuter rail, heavy rail, and demand-responsive vehicles (see glossary for definitions).

2 Data prior to 1995 and later than 2000 were collected using different definitions of what constitutes an interruption of service and are not comparable.