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23 planning and the importance of including the transit agency to fund a demonstration project, GRTC will design and in activities such as development review and location of new implement a new route or a route extension. At the end of the sidewalks. demonstration period, ridership and performance is evalu- ated and the locality makes a decision whether to continue Lessons learned include the use of proven tools to develop funding the service. realistic ridership forecasts and the value of integrating rid- ership and demographic data through GIS. An example of the Two recent examples of new service involve a new mall latter is the inclusion in individual GIS layers of employment and a package of express bus and route-deviation local ser- and population density by TAZ, boarding and alighting data vice to a locality that was previously not being served. No by stop (presented as a pie chart whose size indicates level of ridership forecasts were made for the mall service, but both activity and proportions represent boarding versus alighting the county and GRTC agreed at the outset that there was a activity at each stop), symbols representing total employ- good chance that ridership would justify the service. Evalu- ment and total population by TAZ, and symbolic representa- ation of the new service to the mall was based on the county's tion of passenger loads. A potential next step is the use of perspective that the route worked to bring people to and from GIS network analysis tools to refine ridership forecasting the mall. methodologies. The package of services was a more interesting example. In terms of value, forecasting changes to ridership as a A consultant for the locality had developed the service pro- result of changes in service brings discipline to the service posals and included ridership projections that GRTC development process and highlights its focus on the cus- accepted. Service proved to be successful, but was discon- tomer. Service changes are directed toward improving per- tinued when the locality did not have money to fund the formance and sustainability as defined by service objectives routes beyond the demonstration period. Funding for the and standards. RTD's objective is to serve the most riders for express service has been restored, and GRTC was scheduled the budget dollar. Therefore, service changes that show to reinstitute express service in late February 2006. improvements to subsidy per boarding or boardings per hour are beneficial. The forecast data needed are boardings, hours, GRTC recently received a request from an elected offi- and unit cost (less fare revenue). This information is (or cial to begin a new route serving a small area of the city. should be) readily available internally and easily communi- Staff developed the parameters for the proposed service cated to others. (including basic route design, frequency, and span of ser- vice) to be able to estimate the cost. Implementation is This case study shows how new technologies such as dependent on identification of a funding source to begin a APCs, integrated software, and GIS can improve the quan- demonstration project. tity and quality of ridership and other data, provide new methods for analyzing and forecasting ridership, and greatly When GRTC brainstorms ways to improve service to its enhance the ability to communicate results to stakeholders. riders, ridership forecasts are not a significant part of the At the same time, research projects such as TCRP Report 95 equation. Identifying the service concept and assessing how provide invaluable documentation of experience elsewhere. riders would respond (based on professional judgment) are RTD remains in the process of blending these factors to the key elements. As GRTC notes, the best analysis in the improve several aspects of its planning efforts, including rid- world would make no difference without a local funding ership forecasting. source. GRTC periodically undertakes a comprehensive opera- GREATER RICHMOND TRANSIT COMPANY tional analysis (COA) of its transit network. The upcoming (RICHMOND, VIRGINIA) COA will dovetail with a regional mass transit needs study led by the MPO. GRTC is considering the development of a This case study is representative of many mid-sized and ridership forecasting tool as an element of the upcoming small transit agencies that do not prepare ridership fore- COA. The agency recognizes that, as it develops GIS exper- casts. GRTC serves Richmond, Virginia, and the surround- tise, it will be better able to analyze demographic factors at ing metropolitan area with 29 fixed routes and a peak bus the route level. Thus, a ridership forecasting tool could be requirement of 149 (based on 2003 NTD data). The major- very useful in the future. For the present, GRTC has managed ity of the routes are long-established and unchanging, and its transit system well without such a tool, noting its high the nature of the system does not open up the need for rid- ranking among all transit agencies of its size in terms of cost- ership forecasting. efficiency. In most cases, requests for new service come from local- This case study shows that there may not be a real need for ities within the service area. Implementation depends on a ridership forecasting methodology at all transit agencies. identification of a funding source. If the localities are willing The decision-making process at many small and mid-sized