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BUS TRANSIT SERVICE IN LAND DEVELOPMENT PLANNING SUMMARY The purpose of this synthesis project is to document the relationship between bus transit ser- vice and planning for land development. The project identifies successful strategies that assist in the incorporation of bus transit service into land development, as well as the challenges that transit agencies face when attempting to do so. The synthesis project included a litera- ture review, a survey of selected transit agencies, and development of case studies. The literature review revealed that there is relatively little research on the relationship between bus transit and land development. There is substantially more research devoted to the relationship between land development and the various rail modes. More research is needed that specifically addresses bus transit and its relationship to land development. A survey was conducted of selected transit agencies to determine transit agency experi- ence with land development. Fifty-one transit agencies meeting particular criteria were selected to participate. Thirty-two agencies from 19 states and the District of Columbia responded. Transit agencies were asked what factors contribute to the successful integration of bus transit with developments and the challenges associated with that process. Some of the successful strategies mentioned by the responding agencies included strong comprehensive planning, good communication and coordination with local government, partnerships with building owners and developers, and transit-supportive zoning. The major challenge associ- ated with integrating bus transit into land development is the lack of transit agency resources to plan for land development or to provide new or expanded bus service to serve the devel- opment. In addition, the survey identified transit agencies that had produced transit agency development guidelines to assist developers in integrating transit into their developments (see Appendix C). The following five case studies were undertaken to detail successful developments that incorporated bus transit in their design: the Central Florida Regional Transportation Author- ity (LYNX) in Orlando, Florida; Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) in State Col- lege, Pennsylvania; Omnitrans in San Bernardino, California; Metro Transit in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and GO Boulder in Boulder, Colorado. The synthesis resulted in the following primary findings: · Bus transit elements are not often considered when planning land developments. The sur- vey revealed that many transit agencies are frustrated by the lack of impact that they have on land development plans. The transit agencies that were successful in integrating bus transit into land developments were generally involved early in the development's design. · All stakeholders in the land development process agree that transit must be considered early in the planning process for bus transit to be appropriately integrated into the development. Transit agencies identified the following strategies that enabled early participation: solid support by local government officials, a strong land development planning process, and good coordination and communication with local planning and/or government staff.
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2 · There is a lack of resources available to transit agencies to plan for land development and to provide new or expanded service to new developments, and the problem is wide- spread among transit agencies. It is difficult to negotiate with a developer for transit amenities within new developments when there is no guarantee that transit will be pro- vided. Some transit agencies have been successful in negotiating operating cost subsi- dies with developers and building owners, although such subsidies are not available in all cases. The issue of transit financing will continue to be a challenge for the foresee- able future. · Transit agency development guidelines have been used to help integrate bus transit in land developments. Such guidelines provide information on the material needs of tran- sit in the physical environment. Nine respondents provided copies of their guidelines for this report, with content ranging from only a few pages describing bus stop require- ments to multiple volumes covering all aspects of land development. The content of the guidelines reflects the issues and concerns that predominate in the respective commu- nities. Because a relatively small number of transit agencies have developed guidelines, it is likely that the industry would benefit from the preparation of a handbook that out- lines the preparation and content of transit agency development guidelines. · Guidelines are used by transit agencies to inform developers of transit needs. At some transit agencies [notably LYNX, King County Metro (Seattle, Washington), and Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet)], distribu- tion of guidelines to developers is required as part of the planning or permitting process. Four agencies reported that the guidelines were distributed as a result of for- mal meetings or informal conversations. Distribution of the guidelines to all stake- holders can be improved by providing the guidelines on transit agency websites. Only four of the nine transit agencies with guidelines currently make them available on the web. Sharing the information in this way could raise awareness of transit's needs within developments among all stakeholders. It could also enable a form of technology transfer among transit agencies that could learn from the experiences in other areas. · A mix of strategies appears to be the best course of action when integrating bus transit with land development. There are many challenges that bus transit must overcome to successfully integrate with land developments. Cooperation among all stakeholders is needed to develop solutions and strategies that will address the challenges that inhibit the integration of bus transit and land development. Developing a mix of strategies can build relationships among stakeholders and generate interest. Different strategies are needed to fund the operating costs associated with new or expanded bus service. Still other strategies are required to ensure that adjoining land uses are transit-supportive.