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25 information including a commuter service provided by public and students riding together. However, Mason Transit New Mexico DOT, rural transportation information, and the school districts were able to overcome this hurdle-- fixed-route Santa Fe Trails, and Santa Fe Ride paratran- in part, because these school buses were assuming the role of sit service." general public transit vehicles. Intercity Transit (Olympia, Washington) responded that, in addition to coordinating service with the two other transit operators in its county, it also provides travel train- IMPROVEMENTS TO FIXED-ROUTE SERVICE ing to the clients of those transit operators. The Transit Authority of River City (Louisville, Ken- Since the enactment of the ADA, one of the greatest changes tucky), as part of a new local mobility council, is offering in public transportation accessibility is the proportion of acces- other agencies free vehicle maintenance and a new vehi- sible vehicles in transit agencies' fixed-route fleets. According cle lending program. to the 2006 APTA Public Transportation Fact Book (2006), 96.9% of its members' buses are accessible for mobility devices, but not necessarily fully compliant for other acces- Mason County (Washington State)--School Buses sibility requirements. These numbers will continue to increase as transit agencies replace the older vehicles with new, acces- Mason County (Washington State) Transit operates a combi- sible vehicles. nation of eight fixed routes, route deviation, zone service, and general public dial-a-ride service. Five of the routes make con- The big remaining challenge facing transit agencies in nections with transit service to adjacent counties. It has a fleet increasing the accessibility of fixed-route service is improv- of 35 vans and small buses. ing the environment in which they operate. Rail operators often control some of the components of the paths used to Since 1999, Mason County has been supplementing its fleet reach their platforms and trains, such as station facilities, with four school buses from Shelton and North Mason, two parking lots, and paths between the facility and the drop off or school districts in the county. The four buses operate week- pickup locations. In these cases, they can control the design of days from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Each vehicle averages 435 accessible paths and sometimes the maintenance as well. Bus rides per month in portions of the county that otherwise would operators, in contrast, often have limited control of their envi- not have service. The riders consist primarily of students going ronment. Some bus operators have transfer centers, commuter home after attending after-school activities and residents com- parking lots, intermodal transit centers, or other dedicated ing home from work, shopping, or other events. transit facilities for which they may oversee the design and The economics of the arrangement work well for Mason maintenance. Most locations where riders board or alight Transit and the school district. In 2006, the cost to Mason from buses, however, are bus stops on sidewalks along public Transit was $1.85 per vehicle-mile, plus $22.50 per vehicle- streets. When there are shelters, the transit agency often hour. The average daily mileage per bus was 30 miles and designs the shelter and bus stop pad. However, beyond that there was a minimum of two hours per bus per day. This yields (literally), the transit agency usually relies on another entity to a cost per passenger trip of approximately $4.80. A portion of provide an accessible path. the service is funded through Washington State's Agency Council on Coordinated Transportation, which encourages In jurisdictions where the transit agency is a municipal this type of partnership. The general manager says that he has agency, the municipality may set forth uniform design and not heard any opinions about the ride quality of the school construction standards that lead to coordinated accessibility buses from his passengers. Mason Transit plans to continue planning for sidewalks, curb cuts, crosswalks, and other this arrangement. It is also working with the school district to elements of public pedestrian ways. This may simplify the apply for grant funds to acquire "dual use vehicles," which will administrative process and the allocation of financial bur- have seatbelts and may offer better seating. den for the accessibility improvements. The task is much more challenging, however, when the transit agency is sep- The general manager believes that a key to this arrange- arate from the municipality and/or operates in more than ment is that Mason Transit contracts for the school bus one municipality. drivers along with the school buses, which was an important factor for the school district's comfort in using the school Some transit agencies have been proactive in developing buses for other purposes. This arrangement also provided design guidelines for transit facilities and paths of travel. additional work for the school bus drivers. Although the gen- These guidelines are useful for their own staff and contrac- eral manger is getting Mason Transit drivers trained and cer- tors. In addition, they can share these guidelines with the tified to operate the school buses, there is no plan to replace municipalities to promote the proper design for accessibility. the school bus drivers with Mason Transit drivers. There was In the best case, the transit agency can have its design stan- some initial opposition from the state superintendent of pub- dards incorporated directly in the standards of its city or lic instruction because of concerns about having the general county. The following section provides an example of this.