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10 Table 3-1. Performance criteria for Pierce Transit. Age of Route Passengers per Vehicle-Hour Cost per Boarding Passenger* New routes (less than 1 year old) Satisfactory: >3.0 pass/hr Satisfactory: <$11.30/pass Unsatisfactory: $11.30/pass Routes 12 years old Satisfactory: >4.0 pass/hr Satisfactory: <$8.50/pass Unsatisfactory: $8.50/pass Routes more than 2 years old Satisfactory: >5.0 pass/hr Satisfactory: <$6.80/pass Unsatisfactory: $6.80/pass *All costs are in 2003 dollars. They should be indexed for inflation. CMAQ determined if the service continued beyond the use their local experience and their professional judgment of demonstration period. Services with dedicated funding what kinds of development are likely to attract transit users. were often held to different performance standards. This professional judgment is often augmented by new ser- · Interaction with communities. Another apparent trend vice requests and policy influence, expressed as interest in was the interaction between local communities and transit service by transit board members or elected officials. agencies. In several instances, programs were considered to In the majority of cases reviewed, newer, more flexible be successful when transit dollars were added to commu- forms of transit have been substituted for lower-productivity nity dollars for the provision of services designed by the fixed-route service. Transit agencies are realizing that tradi- community. In other instances, lack of continued commu- tional fixed-route services are no longer viable in certain nity enthusiasm was cited as a factor in discontinuing or areas, or for certain bus routes, because of extremely low rid- reducing service. ership. However, agencies still want to provide mobility options to expanded service areas. Route-deviated service, point-deviation service, or some form of demand-responsive "call-and-ride" service has a number of advantages under Assessment of Practices these circumstances: Interviews with representatives from the transit agencies from around the country revealed that many agencies use · The transit agency does not leave former fixed-route pas- quantitative performance standards as they decide how to sengers stranded without any service. This is important to serve suburban areas that have uneven and relatively low the passengers, but also to the transit boards who see them- demand. However, other factors heavily influence service selves as providers of mobility options. design and provision decisions. · The sense of equity is maintained by providing broader A weak economy in many areas of the country has resulted coverage service throughout the area that supports the in lower-than-usual farebox and sales tax revenues, thereby transit agency with taxes. Equity can be used as a rationale limiting funds available to transit systems. When faced with by transit agencies looking for community support at limited resources, many agencies have chosen not to invest upcoming referenda for continued or expanded transit operating funds in areas of relatively low transit demand. services. Instead, they have strategically invested their limited · New, flexible service can be less expensive than traditional, resources in areas of higher density, where the highest rider- fixed-route service since it is sometimes contracted out and ship and revenues can be realized. Alternatively, some agen- provided with smaller vehicles. If complementary ADA cies provide service in lower-density suburban areas only paratransit service is not required when flexible, accessible when there is a funding source or partner that will pay for transit is equally available to all passengers, potential sav- many of the service's expenses. For instance, in the Pace ser- ings can also be increased with flexible services. vice district, no new suburban shuttle services are put in · Smaller vehicles are often more compatible with the sensi- operation unless a major employer or a transportation tivities of suburban neighborhoods, which are often sensi- management association (TMA) will subsidize the cost of tive to the noise and pollution generated by full-sized operation. Hence, some of the services are being put into transit buses. Smaller vehicles are better able to negotiate place not as a result of anticipated service performance, but crowded shopping centers, narrow residential streets, and as a result of dedicated funding. the turns necessary to accommodate deviation requests. A number of the agencies interviewed stated that they sim- ply do not use service guidelines or standards to inform their Because these advantages are applicable regardless of decisions on where and how to serve lower-density suburban whether agencies have separate standards or guidelines for areas. For these agencies, service changes tend to be very flexible service, agencies often have no pressing need to incremental. To allocate their resources, the transit planners develop such separate standards or guidelines. However, a
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11 number of agencies measure the performance of new flexible influencing the decision to provide the service have included services. Generally, this measurement is done because (a) the the following: agency has very limited financial resources and might have to cut even these less expensive services (as has happened in Fort · Specific requests from major employment centers or com- Worth, Texas, where eight different flexible routes were tried munities, many of whom offer to help pay for the expense and terminated) or (b) the agency regards these services as of providing the service. any other service and, therefore, continuously reviews them · Strategic placement of service within communities to build to ensure that they are being used in the most appropriate support for transit referendums. locations (as in Tacoma, Washington). · Geographic or topographic characteristics that make the The specific performance standards used to judge these provision of regular fixed-route service impractical. newer services vary dramatically, although there is some · A residential community's proximity to premium transit agreement on the general expectations of flexible services. service, such as rail or bus rapid transit (BRT) stations. The most commonly used quantitative performance meas- · Faster, more direct service. This is often accomplished by ure is passengers per hour. Virtually all transit agencies straightening trunk-line routes on major arterials and creat- expect flexible services to perform better than standard para- ing feeder routes to serve areas once served by the fixed route. transit service, but worse than traditional fixed-route service. · Minimized traffic congestion and air pollution by provid- Most agencies are satisfied with service that carries between ing a transit link between premium transit services and four and eight passengers per hour. Some perform slightly major employment centers. worse than this, but are maintained as "lifeline" services, while · The provision of mobility services to residents of areas with a few others perform better than eight passengers per hour. relatively high unemployment to support their entry into The TriMet system in the Portland, Oregon, area requires its the workforce. local suburban circulators to maintain a productivity level of · The provision of internal community trips with vehicles 15 passengers per hour. that can easily access shopping centers and other areas with Some agencies include the subsidy per passenger as relatively crowded and/or tight lane conditions. another quantitative performance measure. Once again, the · The use of smaller vehicles that are more acceptable to cer- specific standard varies because of different cost structures tain neighborhoods. around the country and different budget constraints, but · A policy that all residents within a service area will have the range of values is between $4.50 and $11.30. Less often, access to some form of public transit, even if it is limited transit agencies use the farebox recovery ratio as a primary service, as a "lifeline" for those with no other affordable determinant of whether the new transit service is viable. A mobility options. threshold standard can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, · Regional policies that call for a relationship between differ- but many services establish a range of 20- to 25-percent fare- ent densities of land uses and levels of transit availability. box recovery as the threshold for continued service. Agencies · The availability of funds from sources such as CMAQ, often provide different "probationary periods," during which JARC, or state grant programs for experimental services. they expect these new services to become established. The · The provision of different services at times or on days that standard time frame ranges from 1 to 3 years, with 18 months normally see less transit demand. as an average. In addition to the quantitative measures that drive serv- The specific quantitative and qualitative measures being ice decisions, there are often qualitative measures. As noted used by the interviewed agencies are summarized in Tables 3-2 earlier, many flexible services are started as substitutes for and 3-3, respectively. These tables represent only 20 of the 28 less productive fixed-route service. In areas where flexible preliminary case studies because the information collected transit is introduced as a new service, the qualitative factors from 8 of the agencies was not applicable.
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Table 3-2. Quantitative factors decision matrix. Min # Pax/Hr After Probation Probationary Period (Months) Underperforming Fixed Route Partner (for Service to Start) Different Level of Service on Farebox Recovery Ratio (%) Maximum Subsidy/Pax ($) Minimum Ridership % on Route of System Average Funding Availability of Replacement Service for Min # Pax/Hr During Service in Areas with Nights or Weekends Minimum of 1,800 Households/Acre Type of Service No Standards Persons/Mile2 Probation Agency State City Eastern Contra Costa County Antioch CA 9 12 12 20 3 Transit Authority Regional Transportation Denver CO Call-and-Ride 3 12 3 District South Metro Area Wilsonville OR 3 Rapid Transit Metropolitan Transit San Diego CA Access Routes 12 24 6.50 Development Board New routes 3 12 11.30 3 3 Routes 13 24 4 12 8.50 3 3 Pierce Transit Tacoma WA months Routes 25 5 6.80 3 3 months + Champaign-Urbana Champaign- Mass Transit IL Dial-A-Ride 3 3 Urbana District
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Kansas City Area Demand Transportation Kansas City MO 3 Responsive Authority Suburban Mobility Authority for Detroit MI Flex Routes 3 Regional Transportation Des Moines Dial-A-Ride 3 Metropolitan Des Moines IO 5 3 (evenings only) Transit Authority Toledo Area Regional Transit Toledo OH Dial-A-Ride 3 Authority Suburban 5 4.50 3-5 Metropolitan Council Minneapolis MN Dial-A-Ride 2 4.50 <3 Potomac and Route Rappahannock Manassas VA Deviation 4 Transportation (evenings) Commission Capital District Albany NY Flex Routes 3 3 Transportaion Authority Pace Transit Chicago IL 12 5.00 50 20 3 TriMet Portland OR Circulator 15 24 36 Dallas Area Rapid Dallas TX Curb-to-Curb 3 6 4.30 3 Transit Rhode Island Public Transportation Rhode Island RI 3 Authority Broward County Ft. Lauderdale FL Circulator 5 Ft. Worth > paratransit Transportation Ft. Worth TX 3 services Authority New Jersey Transit Newark NJ 24 20
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Table 3-3. Qualitative factors decision matrix. Avoids ADA Requirement/ Employment Opportunity/ Proximity to Rail Station Environmentally Motivated Unproductive Fixed Routes Geography & Topography Ensuring Communitywide Feeder Service to Regular Developing Community Visible Use of Taxpayer $ Population Motivated Community Feedback Desire to Streamline Funding Availability of Buses in Neighborhood Mobility Opportunities Partner (for Service to Protest Against Large Support for Transit Substitute Service for Regional Network or Premium Transit Determined Need Desire for Internal Unemployment/ Reviews Land-Use Community Trips Plans/Proposals Lifeline Service Type of Service Development Expenses Considered Network Agency Start) City State Eastern Contra Costa County Antioch CA Transit Authority Regional Transportation Denver CO Call-and-Ride District South Metro Area Wilsonville OR Rapid Transit Metropolitan Transit Access San Diego CA Development Routes Board New routes Routes 13 Pierce Transit Tacoma WA 24 months Route 25 months + Champaign- Champaign- Urbana Mass IL Dial-A-Ride Urbana Transit District Kansas City Area Demand Transportation Kansas City MO Responsive Authority Suburban Mobility Authority for Detroit MI Flex Routes Regional Transportation Des Moines Dial-A-Ride Metropolitan Des Moines IO (evenings Transit Authority only) Toledo Area Regional Transit Toledo OH Dial-A-Ride Authority Suburban Metropolitan Council Minneapolis MN Dial-A-Ride Potomac and Route Rappahannock Manassas VA Deviation Transportation (evenings) Commission Capital District Albany NY Flex Routes Transportation Authority Pace Transit Chicago IL TriMet Portland OR Circulator Dallas Area Rapid Dallas TX Curb-to-Curb Transit Rhode Island Public Rhode Island RI Transportation Authority Broward County Ft. Lauderdale FL Circulator Ft. Worth Transportation Ft. Worth TX Authority New Jersey Newark NJ Transit