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26 Guidelines for Providing Access to Public Transportation Stations tools, or even proprietary ridership models (in the case of BART), but the lack of tools to answer many access-related questions remains. 4. Trained personnel. Effectively identifying and implementing access improvements requires transit agency staff with a thorough understanding of its agency goals, station access principles, process tools, and local context. Staff must be dedicated to dealing with station access issues and local stakeholders on a regular basis to achieve this level of understanding, and must have negotiation and compromise expertise. Staff knowledge of traffic engineering and land use planning is also desirable. 5. Resources to support implementation and operations. Adequate funding for access improvements is critical. Wherever possible, transit agencies should identify money for both capital improvements (e.g., parking expansion) as well as operating expenses (e.g., additional feeder transit service). Implementation funding should include resources to monitor program effectiveness in order to inform future decisions. The gaps identified above could be addressed in several ways. Some require action on the part of individual transit agencies, while others more likely require pooled actions on an industry level (e.g., APTA, TCRP research). Suggested guidelines follow: · Dedicate transit agency staff and funding to collect the data required to support station access decisions. Transit agencies should also explore opportunities to partner with other agencies on existing data collection efforts, such as contributing money to a regional household travel survey to address questions of transit station access. For instance, data mining of electronic fare payment cards is a cost-effective way to obtain rider information for agencies with automatic fare card systems. · Develop more comprehensive evaluation tools to predict outcomes of various access-related actions. Few transit agencies have objective tools to estimate parking demand, the effect of TOD on ridership, and cost-effectiveness of feeder buses. · Encourage professional development training. Transit agency staff at a variety of levels would be trained on both process and tools for station access planning. This would include emerging trends and best practices in station access planning, and community and stakeholder involve- ment techniques on transit operations. For instance, a National Transit Institute course focused on tools to improve access to transit stations may be valuable. · Identify dedicated funding for access improvements. For example, capital improvement bond measures can include station access planning and improvements, as was done with Sound Transit's ST2 initiative. Capital development plans and designs for new rapid transit services and service extensions should include funding for station access infrastructure. Including station access planning into transit and regional planning documents (e.g., Transit Development Plans and Long Range Transportation Plans) provides the transit agency with "shovel-ready" projects should funding become available. · Encourage local community and transit agency buy-in early in the planning process for new stations to achieve consensus on the ultimate build-out of the station site. Insights from the Case Studies This section provides specific lessons learned from each of the eleven case studies. Appendix E provides detailed case study summaries. BART -- San Francisco The Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) operates an extensive high-speed rapid transit system that connects downtown San Francisco with East Bay and Peninsula communities. The agency has developed station access guidelines. BART's experiences with station access planning include the following:
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Insights from Transit Agencies 27 · Developing station access guidelines provides value in supporting collaborative planning efforts. At the same time, guidelines must remain flexible to be successfully applied. · Timely data on access mode characteristics is critically important for effective service and facility planning. Periodic intercept surveys of access modes and preferences supports trend-tracking and provides objective information for planning and decision making. · It is important to address trade-offs between TOD and park-and-ride facilities from all perspectives (e.g., the developer, the transit agency, the local community). Balancing these interests may require subsidies. · Locally developed tools, such as BART's Direct Ridership Model and ParkingTOD trade-off spreadsheet tool, are useful for predicting and analyzing access mode utilization in response to service and facility changes (1). · Rapid transit agencies need effective means of understanding and coordinating with other local transit agencies and shuttle service providers to assure riders receive seamless services. For shuttle services, it is important for agencies to have an inventory of where shuttles are located, and a contact person at each one. LA Metro -- Los Angeles LA Metro operates a heavy rail transit line, three light rail lines, and a busway. In addition, express bus lines use the Harbor and Santa Monica Freeway transitways. This case study found that: · Access issues and improvement strategies are generally consistent across rapid transit modes, and Metro does not distinguish between rapid transit modes in their policies. This suggests that a transit agency's station access planning will typically be consistent across rapid transit modes, with differentiation primarily a result of local context in individual station areas. · Bicyclists vary considerably in their characteristics and trip purposes. A variety of strategies and parking types are needed to encourage bicycle access to transit stations while minimizing the number of full-size (i.e., non-folding) bikes that are brought onto transit vehicles. Development of a Bicycle Strategic Plan has been important to Metro's success in achieving this goal. · Joint development at transit stations need not reduce park-and-ride capacity. Metro has maintained--and sometimes increased--commuter parking by incorporating parking struc- tures in joint development projects. However, a subsidy is often required from the transit agency to achieve this goal. · Agencies with significant joint development opportunities benefit from standardized joint development policies, such as Metro's Joint Development Policies and Procedures, which establish desired outcomes and evaluation criteria for proposed developments. · Successful joint development requires frequent interagency coordination, as joint develop- ment almost always requires approval from at least two agencies (the transit agency and the local jurisdiction) and often more, such as redevelopment agencies and state departments of transportation. · Adequate parking for transit riders is essential for ridership in many situations. When TOD takes place, more--rather than less--parking is provided. Parking reductions are made only where they will not inhibit ridership. · Good pedestrian access is essential. From an urban design perspective, the pedestrian access system should extend the "reach" of the station environment. MARTA -- Atlanta MARTA has a two-route (plus branches) heavy rail transit system that focuses on the city center. Findings of this case study include: · Developing a station typology can allow agencies to better adapt policies to the needs of individual stations, by allowing evaluation criteria and/or goals to vary by stations type. For instance, MARTA varies its parking replacement requirements for TOD by station type.
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28 Guidelines for Providing Access to Public Transportation Stations · It is often difficult in joint development projects to build an amount of parking that effectively balances preservation of park-and-ride ridership, provision of parking for new development, and the desire to create a walkable urban environment. · Neighborhood shuttle bus services are often more effective at improving feeder access to transit than re-routing longer-distance local bus routes to connect to stations. However, these shuttles are also more expensive to operate. · There are often opportunities for TOD even in systems with a historical emphasis on drive access. MBTA -- Boston MBTA operates an extensive system of commuter rail, heavy rail, light rail, and bus rapid transit (BRT) services that have been progressively improved over the last century. Its case study shows that: · Even transit agencies with older infrastructure and a focus on asset management--rather than expansion--can find significant opportunities to improve access to stations. MBTA's recent actions include improved bicycle and auto parking, improved bus connections, and searching for development opportunities. Between 2005 and 2010, the MBTA sold or leased rights for more than 50 TODs. · The success of many station access improvement strategies depends on both transit agency and local jurisdiction commitment, but local jurisdictions vary widely in their commitment to improving transit. Transit agency resources may most effectively be focused on those communities most interested in transit. · Data on existing access patterns and access mode shares are important even when a transit agency has no specific access mode targets (e.g., to inform modeling to predict parking demand at proposed stations). · Even in cases where parking fee increases result in lower parking demand, ridership may remain relatively constant, as many riders will switch to other access modes or find parking elsewhere rather than abandon the rapid transit mode. The attractiveness of the rapid transit mode is especially resilient in metropolitan areas with a large regional employment core and constrained (i.e., expensive and/or difficult to find) parking availability in the regional core. · The long-established policy has been to bring streetcars--and later buses--into elaborate inter- modal transfer stations. In recent decades, emphasis was also placed on providing park-and-ride at outlying heavy rapid transit and commuter rail stations, while still fostering pedestrian and transit access in built-up areas. · The planned Green Line extension to East Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford will rely on pedestrian use and transit access (2). Metro-North -- New York and Connecticut Metro-North operates three commuter rail lines between Grand Central Terminal and sub- urban communities in New York State and Connecticut: · Commuter rail ridership on Metro-North's New Haven, Harlem, and Hudson Lines has grown rapidly in recent decades creating parking shortages along all three lines. · Much parking along the lines is owned and operated by cities and towns. Some of the com- munities have long waiting lists for reserved parking spaces. · Metro-North, working with communities and Connecticut Transit, has expanded parking space at several stations in Connecticut. Major parking garages were built in New Haven, Bridgeport, South Norwalk, and Stamford, and a new parking facility is under construction in Fairfield. · Metro-North is as well-established a transit agency as any in the country, with many of its services nearly 150 years old. Yet even here, the transit agency increasingly sees the need to transition from its traditional focus on drive access and provide more comprehensive multi- modal access options at locations where space is constrained, especially in New York State.
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Insights from Transit Agencies 29 · Many communities provide extensive bus service to stations. · Enhanced feeder bus service can effectively improve station access and increase ridership at many stations where parking is over-subscribed. Transit agencies that do not directly operate such services can still promote them through effective partnerships with local operators. A free shuttle bus connects the New Haven station with the city center--the focus of the local bus system--and with remote parking garages. · In some cases, such as Metro-North's Hudson Rail Link, targeted improvements to feeder transit service can both increase ridership and cover operating expenses. Such a result, however, depends on a high-draw urban core (in this case midtown Manhattan), and may not be generally applicable to many other areas. · Metro-North's experience adjusting operations of the HaverstrawOssining Ferry to achieve better results allowed it to operate the NewburghBeacon Ferry more effectively. This suggests that agency-wide station access guidance that summarizes and synthesizes past experience can enhance station access planning efforts, even at transit agencies that prize flexibility in planning. NJ Transit -- New Jersey NJ Transit operates an extensive system of commuter rail lines that enter Manhattan or reach Hoboken. The agency also operates light rail lines along the Hudson River waterfront, in New- ark, and between Camden and Trenton. The commuter rail lines began more than a century ago and the Newark light rail is an upgraded, long-established streetcar line, while the other two light rail lines are more recent. This case study demonstrates that: · Guidelines and guidebooks for improving station access and encouraging transit-friendly development are important. However, such guidance will be most effective when supplemented by direct outreach and assistance to individual communities. · A comprehensive set of complementary station access improvements should be developed as part of any major improvement or expansion of rapid transit service. This work should include identifying locations for parking expansion and proactively working with local communities to prepare for and accommodate increased development pressure in station areas. · Timely data on station access mode characteristics is critically important for effective service and facility planning. Periodic intercept surveys of station access modes and preferences supports trend-tracking and provides objective information for planning and decision making. · Partnering with an independent organization to evaluate programs, as New Jersey has done with the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University for its Transit Village Initiative, provides an objective means to assess program effectiveness, document successes, and make refinements. · While transit agency and state programs are important, success in promoting TOD at a given station ultimately requires a local jurisdiction that is interested and committed. · Well-designed transit agency and statewide programs can be effective at promoting TOD, especially when they provide direct funding for improvements (particularly subsidies for constructing structured parking). · Transit agencies that serve a large number of jurisdictions should dedicate resources to working directly with individual communities that wish to foster TOD in specific station areas. OC Transpo -- Ottawa OC Transpo has operated a heavily used busway system since the 1970s. Within the past decade, complementary rail transit service has been initiated. Results of this case study include the following: · Station access issues faced on BRT systems are, for the most part, the same as those faced by rail transit agencies, indicating that rapid transit mode is secondary to the local context in determining station access and ridership characteristics.
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30 Guidelines for Providing Access to Public Transportation Stations · Agency consolidation reduces interagency coordination needs, and can result in significant efficiencies in planning and implementing station access improvements. In the case of OC Transpo, the transit agency was incorporated into the City of Ottawa's government in 2001 as part of a regional consolidation of governments into a single central city government. · OC Transpo's use of extensive public outreach to gauge reactions to potential service restruc- turing options showed the value of public outreach in alternatives evaluation. Outreach as part of Ottawa's Transportation Master Plan showed that people were not opposed to additional transfers where connections were seamless and wait times very low. This result contributed to ongoing restructuring and simplification of service to focus less on local buses entering the busway and instead on having passengers transfer from local bus to BRT. · Established design principles, such as OC Transpo's Light Rail Design Guidelines, allow station access planning and design to proceed more efficiently. · A comprehensive parking facilities needs study, such as OC Transpo's Park-and-Ride Study should: (1) establish policy regarding locations where park-and-ride facilities are appropriate; (2) estimate future demand for additional parking; and (3) identify and screen potential park- and-ride facility locations. · Ottawa's strong land use controls have required major developments to be located along its busway system. Several developments have direct pedestrian connections to busway stations. RTD -- Denver The Regional Transportation District (RTD) operates light rail lines that connect downtown Denver with outlying areas in southwest and southeast suburbs. Much of the southeast line is located alongside I-25. This case study demonstrates that: · Developing station access guidelines helps support collaborative planning efforts. At the same time, the guidelines must remain flexible to be successfully applied. · Parking pricing can achieve many goals in addition to simply serving as a potential revenue source, including reducing the number of long-term (all-day and overnight) parkers, and shifting demand to facilities with unused capacity. · Successful joint development programs require flexibility to adjust to unique market conditions and other constraints at individual stations. · Maintaining an online TOD database, and preparing periodic summary reports, is a valuable method of documenting TOD in the region and making the case for additional TOD. · Establishing a permanent Transit Access Committee is a means to ensuring consistent access improvements and joint development projects throughout the system. · Direct pedestrian access between transit stations and adjacent development is critically important to both transit's and the development's success, yet some property owners still resist providing such access. Sound Transit -- Seattle Sound Transit is a regional transit agency that operates a commuter rail line, a light rail line, a modern streetcar line, and regional bus service. County- and city-based transit agencies provide bus connections to many of Sound Transit's services. Sound Transit's station access planning experiences include the following: · Each community will have a different set of priorities and stakeholders that should be included in the public process. The City of Seattle's Public Outreach Liaison (POL)--where neighbor- hood leaders are hired as part-time city employees--is one method to address this diversity of needs. · It is unrealistic and undesirable for transit agencies to consider stations in isolation from surrounding communities.
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Insights from Transit Agencies 31 · Close coordination with the surrounding community and local jurisdiction is needed to implement new rapid transit service, particularly when the service does not rely heavily on park-and-ride. · Capital improvement programs targeted at improved station access should focus on more than simply increasing parking supply by addressing the diverse goals that individual communities have for their station areas. · Establishing policy to support bicycle access while minimizing the impacts of bicycles brought on-board transit vehicles is important in regions where bicycling is a significant and increasing mode of travel. · Transit agencies benefit from having evaluation criteria connected to agency-wide goals to assess potential station access improvements. TriMet -- Portland TriMet's light rail system extends in all directions from downtown Portland, Oregon. The system continues to be expanded and a commuter rail line opened in 2009. The TriMet case study shows that: · Effective public outreach on an individual capital project helps to build regional support for subsequent capital projects. TriMet believes that effective public outreach should start early and be based on grass-roots outreach. Successful public outreach means that formal public hearings are "non-events" because problems have already been resolved. · Public outreach may be more effective if not contracted to consultants. TriMet has its own community affairs staff to ensure that (1) staff truly represents the transit agency to the public and (2) to maintain continuity of staff throughout the project. · Having a strong relationship with local jurisdiction, institutions, and developers is critical to the long-term success of station access planning. For example, TriMet's commitment extended to funding a project engineer at the City of Milwaukee to represent the city's interests as part of planning for the PortlandMilwaukee light rail, since the city could not afford to add this staff member itself. This action clearly signaled to Milwaukee that addressing the city's concerns was integral to the success of the project. · Transit stations and transit activity should be directly integrated into communities through station design and site plans. This commitment is seen in the design of many of TriMet's stations. · With a regional commitment to providing non-auto access, especially transit-supportive land use, it is possible to develop a successful regional rail system that relies on park-and-ride access for only a small portion of ridership. · Reducing existing parking capacity to support TOD may require justifying the reduction to FTA if federal funding was used to construct the parking. WMATA -- Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.'s Metro system covers the entire metropolitan area and is the most heavily used U.S. heavy rail system after New York City. This case study shows that: · Developing station access guidelines provides value in supporting collaborative planning efforts. At the same time, guidelines must remain flexible to be successfully applied. · Timely data on access mode characteristics is critically important for effective service and facility planning. Periodic intercept surveys of access modes and preferences supports trend-tracking and provides objective information for planning and decision making. · Expanding parking facilities is expensive and requires land that may not exist in many cases. This observation suggests that agencies that expect ridership increases may need to focus on improvements to non-auto access to realize ridership growth.
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32 Guidelines for Providing Access to Public Transportation Stations · Station-specific access studies, funded by either the transit agency or local jurisdictions, are valuable means of identifying and prioritizing access improvement options. · Transit agencies with significant joint development opportunities benefit from standardized joint development policies that establish desired outcomes and evaluation criteria for proposed developments. · Transit agency offices that are involved in access planning should be organized to ensure that access planning efforts will be coordinated internally and will provide a more effective process externally. Those involved in access planning at WMATA include planners, real estate, operations planning, rail and bus operations, plant maintenance, parking management, marketing, and government relations. · Transit agencies should consider the cost-effectiveness of access modes. WMATA is developing the analytical tools needed to determine the cost-effectiveness among access modes to set access- mode goals and make investments. · Transit agencies can proactively set mode share goals instead of passively calculate mode share projections. WMATA's access mode share priorities are related to comparable goals established by member jurisdictions. · WMATA has a broad range of station access modes. Pedestrian access dominates in many densely developed areas. However, the system also has large parking garages that directly connect to the regional freeway system.