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INNOVATIVE SUBURB-TO~SUBURB TRANSIT PRACTICES SUMMARY Suburb-to-suburb commuting has dominated work trip growth over the past two dec ades, constituting approximately one-third of all metropolitan commuting in the United States today. Central business districts (CBDs), in many cases, are no longer the principal place to do business in metropolitan areas. Employment growth has moved away from the central city in response to land availability, highway access, proximity to housing, and so cial and economic factors. Population and housing shifts to the suburbs have occurred dur ing the same time period in response to man' of the same factors. Transit agencies that have traditionally served the suburb-to-downtown market now find it necessary to provide service to more diverse markets. Traditional radial route patterns of metropolitan transit systems are changing. New transit route patterns are more complex, resembling a giant web or a grid system in some instances. Two new principal transit commute markets have emerged as a result of these population, housing, and workplace changes: reverse commutes, where inner-city residents travel to suburban jobs. and suburb to-suburb commutes. Transit's role in reverse commuting has been extensively documented, such as in a 1994 report by the American Public Transit Association (APIA), Access to Opportunity Linking Inner City Workers to Suburban Jobs. Transit's involvement in suburb-to-suburb commuting is the subject of this synthesis. This synthesis provides a look at the state of the practice by examining survey results of 23 transit agencies that provide some form of suburb-to-suburb service. The types of transit agencies responding ranged from those with just a few transit routes with suburban origins and destinations to entire systems that are largely suburban in nature. Initially, there was some confusion among several agencies as to what constitutes a suburb, and because there is no exact definition of "suburb." agencies surveyed were required to make their own de tennination. For else purposes of this synthesis, most services with suburban origins and destinations, and serving largely suburban travel needs, were considered to be suburb-to suburb services. These services may also be characterized as serving low density areas, and being non-radial and non-center city oriented. This synthesis takes an in-depth look at four case studies where exemplary practices and innovative approaches are being used to meet the increased travel demands of suburb-to suburb commuting. The case study agencies include: PACE, Suburban Bus Division of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), with headquarters in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a Chicago suburb; New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit), a statewide transit agency. with headquarters in Newark, New Jersey; Grand Rapids Area Transit Authority (GRATA) in Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Ottawa-Carleton Regional Transit Commission (OC Transpo) in Ottawa-Carleton, Ontario.

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2 The case studies represent a wide diversity of suburb-to-suburb services in both the United States and Canada. PACE was selected, in part, because 48 percent of its trips are suburb-to-suburb in nature and the system was specifically designated to address suburban travel needs in the Chicago region. The NJ Transit case study focuses on a collection of new services known as WHEELS, which are designed to serve suburban employment sites. GRATA recently undertook a major strategic planning process to meet the future mobility needs of its commuters and, for the first time, has initiated new routes in the suburbs. OC Transpo, unlike most U.S. transit agencies, considers suburb-to-suburb trips to be an inte- gral part of its regional transit service. Also, unlike U.S. transit agencies, OC Transpo has a regional planning policy in place to direct development to areas that are well served by transit. This synthesis describes some common elements of success among all the transit agen- cies surveyed. Success was defined by the agencies and is therefore a subjective judgment. Several elements considered by transit agencies that are planning to meet suburban travel needs through the introduction of new suburb-to-suburb transit services include targeted marketing to the business community, partnerships with the private sector, involvement in site design/land use issues, transit's role as a manager of mobility, and the requirement to implement actions to bring air quality up to standard. Primary conclusions of this synthesis include a need for more specific ridership and fi- nancial information about suburban services. Also, there is a need for more information on what constitutes a state-of-the art marketing plan for transit agencies and how plans can be used to enhance suburb-to-suburb services; a need to examine how advanced public transit systems (APTS) and various traffic operations techniques? such as signal preemption can be used to enhance suburban transit operations, and how technology can help transit be more responsive to commuter needs; and a need to examine the long-term financial support for the operation of newer suburban services, especially when federal or state funds are used to support start-up and short-te~m operations, and to determine how these services will be continued in the future and who will pay for them.