News | Inaugural LBT Fellow Reaghan Murphy presents at TRB

Stop the Video



by Jacob Wong, USC Master of Public Policy, 2023

This is the first in a three-part series highlighting the accomplishments of the METRANS Long Beach Transit Fellows Program.  The Long Beach Transit Fellows Program was the brainchild of METRANS Associate Director Dr. Victoria Deguzman and Long Beach Transit Service Development Manager Shirley Hsiao. And what began as an idea in 2020 is now a thriving program, with both Fellows and results.  Read on to learn more.


In January of this year, recent USC Price Master of Urban Planning (MUP) graduate Reaghan Murphy showcased her research at a poster session for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Murphy’s display, which focused on transit ridership and micro-mobility services, was presented alongside other projects related to shared vehicle services as part of the event. “It was like a large science fair,” she said. 


Reaghan Murphy, USC Master of Urban Planning


Murphy showcased research that she conducted as the inaugural fellow of the Long Beach Transit Fellows Program, a collaboration between the Long Beach Transit (LBT) agency and METRANS Transportation Consortium to fund student “Fellows” who conduct research with Long Beach Transit as part of an approximate half-year program. Reaghan completed her work as a Fellow in August, 2021 while also finishing her Master of Urban Planning degree. 


As the first LBT Fellow, Murphy’s research focused on identifying and analyzing ridership trends on LBT buses following the COVID-19 pandemic, a timely and valuable project identified by LBT. Using multiple stop-level datasets, she grouped routes into two categories: “Core Service Areas” where ridership levels remained high after the pandemic despite cuts to transit service, and “Opportunity Areas” where ridership was consistently low, even prior to the pandemic.


Murphy’s produced a consolidated dataset intended to inform LBT’s future decisions on route changes and micro-transit use as an alternative to standard bus service. However, she knew that her work also had the potential for broader application, and TRB, which conducts research and advises at a national level, provided Murphy with a platform to reach a wider audience. “We were hopeful that it would help other practitioners start to reimagine how they were benchmarking and evaluating ridership,” she said. 


Although Murphy’s time as a LBT fellow has passed, the data collected in her research is still being put to use. Negin Shariat, PhD student at UC Irvine’s Institute of Transportation Studies, is the LBT Fellow for the second stage of the project, which takes Murphy’s data and recommendations and applies an engineering perspective.  Negin Shariat’s work is the focus of the next part of this series.


About the Author:

Jacob Wong is a first-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree at the Price School of Public Policy. He is curious about issues in urban policy and transportation planning. He is a recent LA transplant, and in his free time he enjoys exploring the area and the local food scene.