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CHAPTER 3 Insights from Transit Agencies Eleven case studies provide insight into the strengths and weaknesses of station access planning. The case studies looked at the organizational process and elements of station access planning from two perspectives: (1) agency-wide policy perspectives and (2) the applications of those policies to specific stations. Exhibit 3-1 lists the case study transit agencies and the steps of the station access planning process, as defined in Chapter 2, that were addressed in each case study. The case studies include transit systems that are improving station access in long developed areas, relatively new rail transit systems transitioning from park-and-ride dependence to joint development opportunities, agencies with well-developed station access planning programs, and transit agencies with few access guidelines, but a willingness to work collaboratively with stakeholders. This chapter provides the policy and planning lessons learned from the case studies as well as key highlights specific to each case study. Appendix E provides the full case studies. Elements of Successful Station Access Planning The case studies identified nine primary areas that are considered by transit agencies as part of their station access programs: Local station area context Collaboration with local and regional stakeholders Local and private concerns Station access planning guidelines Data requirements Predictive and analytical tools Short- and long-term cycle station access planning Performance tracking and evaluation TOD policy Local Station Area Context An important challenge is that both outcome and process success--particularly outcome success--depend substantially on a given station's setting, defined as those external factors that affect the results but are subject to only limited control by the planning process. Contextual factors include: rapid transit and station characteristics; existing land use; available land; market demand; demographics; spacing, continuity, and connectivity of the pedestrian circulation system--including the presence of sidewalks; structure of the regional transportation network; patterns of congestion; and community politics, goals, and plans. 19

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20 Guidelines for Providing Access to Public Transportation Stations Exhibit 3-1. Case study topic area summary. Process Step Case Study Agency 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 BART LA Metro MARTA MBTA Metro-North NJ Transit OC Transpo RTD Denver Sound Transit TriMet WMATA Process Steps: 1. Identify the Need 2. Establish a Collaborative Environment 3. Develop Objectives and Principles 4. Establish Evaluation Criteria 5. Build a Rich Set of Appropriate Options 6. Predict Outcomes and Apply Criteria 7. Trade-offs, Negotiation, and Choice 8. Develop, Implement and Monitor Recommended Plan The context has the power to cause or impede success of the station access planning process and its outcomes. Practitioners must understand contextual characteristics in station access planning to set expectations at a realistic level, adapt the planning process and its results to fit the context, and address opportunities to influence the context itself where feasible. For example, restrictive zoning ordinances might be relaxed or modifications to the regional highway network may be introduced. Collaboration with Local and Regional Stakeholders The transit agency is the key participant in the cooperative station access planning effort. But as crucial as station access services are to the transit agency, it should plan the access with many other groups (see Exhibit 2-1 in Chapter 2) including roadway agencies and the private sector. Station access planning is a collaborative process that should include feeder bus service providers, local jurisdictions, and stakeholder groups. Collaboration and cooperation is essential. Rapid transit agencies must work with such partners, must engage in ongoing collaboration (because station access needs and the external factors that affect them are not static), and must be proactive in reaching out to partners, even those that may be disinterested in rapid transit access planning. These four steps are essential to balancing participant interests: 1. Develop strong and open relationships with (a) local governments and transit service pro- viders; (b) roadway agencies; (c) developers who may own and operate land near stations, or

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Insights from Transit Agencies 21 who may engage in development projects that will or could benefit the transit agency; and (d) residents and property owners in the station area. 2. Maintain these relationships. The best way to accomplish this depends on each situation's needs and opportunities. The kinds of tactics that have brought success to the case study transit agencies include establishing interagency committees for sub-regions or specific stations; developing a stable group of access planning staff within the transit agency who become known to local leaders and are familiar with local values and issues; assigning transit agency personnel (rather than consultants) to spend time in the communities on access planning outreach; and assigning specific agency professionals the task of negotiating agreements with local govern- ments and developers. 3. Have appropriately skilled station access planning professionals. The people involved should have expertise in transit and traffic operations, parking, pedestrian design, and station design. The leaders of collaborative efforts must be skilled at communicating and collaborating with counterparts in other agencies, with members of the community, and with developers. They need substantial local knowledge, a thorough grounding in the transit agency mission, and familiarity with station access planning guidelines and policies. Station access planners working on TOD projects should know where their flexibility lies and should have some real power to negotiate a solution. An organizational structure where the station access planning decisions are made at the board level may make it more difficult to seize important opportunities. 4. Define and publicize the mission and goals of the transit agency in the context of local goals and values. Building the case with other local agencies that the regional mission can be attained while achieving--or at least respecting--local goals and values is critical to success. Local and private resistance to, or disinterest in, station access planning activities usually comes because these entities do not see rapid transit services--and therefore station access--as being relevant to their own needs. Making the case for transit while protecting and promoting local values is essential to get local buy-in to access planning goals and plans. That buy-in is necessary to provide the access services and arrangements required to deliver seamless services to riders, which, in turn, is essential if the transit agency is to achieve its mission. Addressing Local and Private Concerns While compromise is an essential feature of collaborative decision making, the research team observed cases where this simply doesn't work. Some communities, developers, or land owners may not be willing to compromise to ensure reasonable and convenient station access for rapid transit passengers. For example, in Denver a commercial property owner opposed providing access to an adjacent light rail station. In that case, regional pressure led to compromise. In such cases, the transit agency may find success in negotiations, trade-offs, or compensation for the resisting entity. Flexibility in the application of adopted access guidelines may be required to allow this type of negotiation to reach a compromise. In some cases, it is in the best interest of the transit agency to redirect its efforts to other settings, potentially moving a station to an area with greater transit support. Station Access Planning Guidelines Several case study transit agencies have developed and used formal station access planning guidelines that provide a framework within which the access planning team operates. These guidelines, founded on the mission of the transit agency, typically define the priority access modes, which may be different in different locations. They state goal-driven criteria for station access planning and decision making. The criteria should explain why certain factors or features are important. Some guidelines have formal design standards (e.g., walking distances, replacement parking policy where TOD consumes a parking lot). The guidelines may start from established

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22 Guidelines for Providing Access to Public Transportation Stations agency policies, but over time they are influenced by and updated on the basis of local experience (i.e., what has worked and what has not). The risk associated with station access planning guidelines is that they may be applied rigidly, ignoring the needs, values, and context around particular stations. Representatives from transit agencies with specific guidelines underscored the importance of flexibility. Guidelines should not be standards. They should define goals and criteria, but they should allow trade-offs among the collaborators so that reasonable station access services and facilities can be implemented. Data Requirements Comprehensive and timely data are an important input to the station access planning process. The necessary information will vary, whether an access at an existing station is to be improved or a new station is to be developed. Station access planning decisions benefit from information on existing access patterns (e.g., mode of access, origin locations, available travel options, perceptions of the access experi- ence, preference improved services). Such data traditionally come from collection and analysis of periodic intercept surveys. Recently, fare card data has been mined to understand home location (for registered fare cards) in relation to first station boarded to predict mode of access. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analyses of origin locations can give a useful picture of current patterns and potentials for improved services; Exhibit 3-2 shows an example of how BART maps the home locations of participants in its reserved parking program at stations. Archiving data is important to support trend analyses in the future. Surveys should examine access to and from home workplaces and other activities. For instance, roadside intercept/postcard surveys at freeway on-ramps can provide useful information on non-transit users. Station intercept surveys do not, however, provide information about potential riders who might not be using the rapid transit service. More expansive and costly data collection efforts are necessary to capture this market. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey and the associated Census Transportation Planning Products can provide an efficient means of understanding this broader market. However, detailed travel behavior can only come from more specialized surveys (e.g., the general household travel surveys that most MPOs collect, about once each decade). Most transit agencies obtain demographic and land use information for people and activities within a one-half to one-mile radius of the transit station. Car ownership and worker information is useful in assessing potential station ridership. Data assembly and collection activities should also address the supply side. This is especially important where the transit agency does not provide all of these services. Important data elements include the quantity and quality of bus services (both public and private), and the pricing and utilization of auto and bicycle parking. Many transit agencies (e.g., BART, WMATA) have an increasing number of shuttle services at outlying stations that serve remote employment centers and other major attractors. In many cases, these services are provided by private entities, making it difficult for transit agencies to track the services provided. Transit agencies that perform regular inventories of shuttle services and maintain contacts for each service are better positioned to implement access improvements (e.g., adjusting circulation for shuttle transfers at the station). Spillover impacts--parking, congestion, safety, and air quality--are another target for data collection because they have direct effects on community and private collaborators in the access planning process. Concerns about spillover impacts may bring local governments into the station access planning process.

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Insights from Transit Agencies 23 Exhibit 3-2. Example of reserved parking program participant mapping for BART's San Leandro Station. Source: Richard Willson Information should be assembled on roadway characteristics in the station environs. Desired information includes roadway geometry, traffic controls, traffic volumes by direction, and service levels. Predictive and Analytical Tools Predictive models are important to answer critical "if/then" questions in support of station access planning (e.g., to predict ridership for an access mode or parking response to pricing changes). Traditional models used for regional transportation planning may not be sufficiently sensitive or detailed enough to evaluate station access mode options. Several transit agencies use proprietary models usually developed by consultants. This is a critical gap in available tools, particularly given the important role that station access services play in the success of major capital investment in rapid transit systems. Some transit agencies have developed tools specifically for analyzing trade-offs involved in planning TOD, such as the consequences of relaxing parking requirements or changing the

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24 Guidelines for Providing Access to Public Transportation Stations locations of parking. One example is BART, which has developed a spreadsheet tool to test the impacts of alternative station development scenarios, with an emphasis on assessing the trade-offs associated with providing commuter parking versus encouraging TOD. Financial impacts analyzed include changes in parking revenue and the ability of new development to pay for itself through rent. Thirteen model inputs are used, including current access mode shares, parking costs, elasticities, and land values. (This spreadsheet has not been published, but was obtained directly from BART.) How- ever, its relevant findings were incorporated into the spreadsheet tool developed by this research. A review of existing predictive and analytical tools is provided in Chapter 5, while Appendix C presents the high level planning tool developed as part of this research. Performance Tracking and Evaluation Collecting data on performance of station designs and access services is useful for providing a basis for evaluating projects, generating local learning, and developing success stories. Local learning has high value because such information generally has higher credibility--and often greater validity--than measures of outcomes achieved in other locations. RTD (Denver) maintains a database on park-and-ride lot activity in relationship to parking fees. This database allows the agency to understand if the parking fees are having the intended effect of shifting patronage from over-utilized to under-utilized lots, or diverting to other modes of access. In addition, RTD publishes an annual TOD Status Report describing its TOD projects and their success. This means collecting data to determine the outcomes from specific station access planning and TOD actions. Similarly, NJ Transit contracts with the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University to track and evaluate TOD near NJ Transit facilities. Evidence of success, as well as failures and actions to remedy them, can be the basis for future planning, discussion, and negotiation. This has proven useful not only for evaluating TOD projects, but also for promoting new TOD projects by showing examples and success models. Short- and Long-term Station Access Planning Station access planning is necessary for both existing and new rapid transit service. Established services need periodic reviews and continuous station access planning activities because markets and services change. Parking fills up, rapid transit ridership creeps up (or down), and needs for new access services or increased capacity arise. In addition to the changes on the transit system, the area surrounding stations can experience dramatic changes, often in the forms of increased density and traffic congestion in the station vicinity. A regular program of data collection can track these trends and lead to changes in the design of stations and access services. New rapid transit lines require a comprehensive assessment of opportunities, benefits, costs, and impacts. Considering the long-term context of a station while in the initial design phases gives the transit agency the ability to plan for shifts in station access modes over time. TriMet successfully used this strategy in the design of a transit center and surface park-and-ride lot that were in an undeveloped area when the station was opened. More than 10 years after the station opened, development intensified around the station. The station was redesigned to include a community college and workforce center; a portion of the park-and-ride space transitioned to shared use parking. Ridership generated from the development at the station more than offset the limited loss of parking. The planning process does not vary much among the different rapid transit modes: commuter rail, heavy rail, light rail, and bus rapid transit. Whatever the mode, rapid transit stations have similar needs, driven more by specific settings than by transit technology.