Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Activity: Texas Public Transit and You

Grade Level:
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Objective: The students will discover statistics about public transit and discuss reasons behind those statistics.

Time: One class period

Materials: One Transportation, Population, and You worksheet per student, one Texas map per group, and literature about each town

 Transportation, Population, and You

Vocabulary: ridership, public transit, rank

Background Information:

Ridership is defined as the number of people that ride public transit in a day. Large cities spend lots of dollars and hours to determine ways to increase ridership. Houston and Dallas have put in mass transit trains to better serve their populations. Corpus Christi has increased the areas and neighborhoods the bus goes to and streamlined the use of special service busses. These services are very important to the populations that currently use public transit and will be useful to more residents as the cities grow and traffic becomes heavier.

The following information was put together by visiting the websites of each city’s public transit system and/or from speaking to the transportation director in some of the smaller towns. If your area has a public transit system, call the transportation director of your city and add the information to the chart.

City NameRank in size NationallyPopulation of City¹Number of Riders Each Day% of the population riding public transit
San Antonio71,532,233109,856⁵7.17%
Corpus Christi59326,55420,000⁶6.12%
El Paso22682,66935,000⁶5.13%

Setting the Stage:

Ask the students how many have ridden on public transportation (not a school bus). Have them describe where, why and how they felt.

Activity 1:

Make a photocopy of the chart worksheet for each student. Have them fill in the percent column by dividing the total population into the number of riders each day. Have them rank the cities based on their ridership numbers. Which ones have the most riders, which has the least, which ones have the largest percentage of their population using public transit, etc.

Activity 2:

Make a graphic organizer with three columns. In the first column have the students list things they know about each city. Have them work in groups to fill in this column. It can be a bulleted list or a train-of-thought random listing. The next column is things the students want to know about the cities. This would be a good time to have the students share some of the categories of information they have come up with (Austin has several colleges, or Austin is the home of The University of Texas). You could also give examples such as, size, lay-out, colleges, type of jobs there, activities in that town, etc. Then give each group a Texas map and some literature about the cities that they can draw more information from. Place this information in the third column, things they learned about the cities. This is a modified KWL approach. A Sample KWL Chart is included for you.

 Sample KWL Chart

Switch groups and have each child share with the new group. Armed with data and facts about each city, have the students discuss why some cities have better ridership than others and how to increase the ridership in a city. Complete the worksheet.


Who rides the bus? What factors make it easier for people to ride public transit in some cities? How can a city increase ridership?


Write a plan for starting (or increasing) ridership in your town. List major pick-up and drop-off locations and reasons why your town should have public transit. Write a letter to your mayor explaining the project and include a copy of your proposed ridership plan.



Math: 5.3 (A, C), 5.14 (A, B, D), 5.16 (A, B), 6.2 (C, D), 6.11 (A, B, D), 7.1 (B), 7.2 (A, B), 7.13 (A, B, D), 8.14 (A, B, D)
Science: 5.2 (A, B, C, D), 5.3 (A, B, C), 6.2 (A, B, C, D), 6.3 (A, B, C), 7.2 (A, B, C, D), 7.3 (A, B, C), 8.2 (A, B, C, D), 8.3 (A, B, C)
Social Studies: 5.8 (D), 5.14 (E), 5.25 (A, B, C, D, F), 5.26 (A, C, D), 6.5 (A), 6.21 (A, B, C, D, F), 6.22 (A, C, D), 7.21 (A, B, C, D, H), 7.22 (A, B, D), 8.30 (A, B, C, D, H), 8.31 (A, B, D)
ELA: 5.1 (A, B, C), 5.4 (A), 5.5 (B, F), 5.13 (A, B, C, D, E, G, H), 6.1 (A, B, C), 6.4 (A), 6.5 (B ,F), 6.13 (A, B, C, D, E, G, H), 7.1 (A, B, C), 7.4 (A), 7.5 (B, F), 7.13 (A, B, C, D, E, G, H), 8.1 (A, B, C), 8.4 (A), 8.5 (B, F), 8.13 (A, B, C, D, E, G, H)

  1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places of 50,000 or More, Ranked by July 1, 2018 Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2018
    Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division
    Release Date: May 2019
  2. METRO, Weekday Average Ridership Report, March 2018.
  3. DART, Total System Average Weekday FY2017, March 2018.
  4. CAPMETRO, Total System Average Weekday, June 2018.
  5. VIA, Average Weekday Ridership August 2017, September 2017.
  6. American Public Transportation Association, Q1 2019 Transit Ridership Report, May 2019.
Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
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