National Academies Press: OpenBook

A Guidebook on Transit-Supportive Roadway Strategies (2016)

Chapter: Chapter 1 - Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. A Guidebook on Transit-Supportive Roadway Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21929.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. A Guidebook on Transit-Supportive Roadway Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21929.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. A Guidebook on Transit-Supportive Roadway Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21929.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. A Guidebook on Transit-Supportive Roadway Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21929.
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6Improving bus travel times and travel time reliability are key considerations for transit agencies because these issues directly affect the cost of providing service, and good performance in these areas is important for attracting new riders and retaining existing riders. They are also important considerations for planning agencies since attractive transit service helps support local and regional goals to provide multimodal mobility choices for all segments of the popula- tion, to create more-sustainable communities, and to support land use development efforts in central business districts and other activity centers. Finally, they are important considerations for roadway agencies, which are increasingly faced with the need to use limited roadway space as efficiently as possible since improved transit service can greatly increase the number of people served by a roadway without requiring the need for expensive widening. This guidebook provides numerous examples of transit-supportive roadway strategies that can be used to improve transit speed and reliability on urban and suburban streets. Although the guide- book focuses on the bus mode (including bus rapid transit [BRT] and commuter bus service), many of the strategies presented here are also potentially applicable to demand-responsive transit, streetcars, and portions of light rail transit systems operating on-street. Bus facilities on freeways, bus-only streets, and off-street bus facilities are outside the scope of this guidebook. Successful transit-supportive roadway projects require the active participation of both transit and roadway agencies, along with the involvement and support of external stakeholders who may benefit from, or potentially be affected by, these projects. Consequently, this guidebook also presents best practices for developing interagency cooperation and provides examples of successful partnerships. Finally, a key to developing working agency partnerships is understanding a partner agency’s needs and constraints. Because most transit agency staff are not transportation engineers and most transportation engineers and planners have not worked in transit agencies, this guidebook also explains basic concepts and terms used by each group in order to help them understand each other. 1.1 What Is a Transit-Supportive Roadway Strategy? A transit-supportive roadway strategy is any operational practice or infrastructure element that helps buses move more quickly along a street or route with more consistent travel times. This guidebook defines the following main categories of strategies: • Bus operations strategies. Changes made by the transit agency in the way it provides service, such as relocating bus stops, consolidating bus stops, and changing the way fares are paid. • Traffic control strategies. Changes to the way traffic is regulated that are for the benefit of transit; examples include changing traffic signal operations to prioritize bus movements and C H A P T E R 1 Introduction

Introduction 7 changes to traffic regulations to improve traffic flow generally or bus movements specifically (e.g., prohibiting left turns where no left-turn lane is provided, or exempting buses from right-turn-only requirements). • Infrastructure and bus lane strategies. Changes to physical elements of the roadway, such as extending sidewalk space into the parking lane (curb extensions) or constructing bus lanes. Because of the wide variety of bus lane types, this guidebook discusses them separately from other infrastructure strategies. Some strategies can also be thought of as support strategies—that is, strategies that do not necessarily provide a bus travel time benefit on their own but help another strategy achieve its maximum effectiveness. Examples include red-colored pavement in bus lanes (to improve the lanes’ conspicuity and deter inadvertent bus lane violations), traffic enforcement (to ensure that bus-only facilities are not used by other vehicles), and special traffic signal displays for buses (to reduce potential motorist confusion if standard red/yellow/green signal displays were to be used to control bus-only movements). Finally, many strategies lend themselves to being implemented as part of a package of strate- gies where multiple strategies are implemented at the same time (e.g., a combination of stop consolidation, curb extensions, and transit signal priority along a bus route). This approach helps combine the individual travel time benefits from specific strategies into a larger benefit that may be more noticeable to passengers and more useful to the transit agency in terms of scheduling flexibility. 1.2 How to Use This Guidebook This guidebook is written for transit and roadway agency staff who are looking for ways to improve bus operations on city streets or who are being asked to consider proposals to implement a specific strategy. For transit agency staff, this guidebook provides detailed information about the range of strategies that are available to address specific operating issues that a bus route (or bus service along a street) may be facing. This information includes descriptions of each strategy, potential strategy applications and constraints, typical benefits, relative costs, and specific implementation guidance. The guidebook also describes what kind of information a roadway agency will likely want to see when considering a proposal, as well as common standards, policies, and guidelines that roadway agencies follow when planning and implementing roadway projects. For roadway agency staff, the guidebook provides examples of cities where specific strategies have been successfully applied, references to national documents such as the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD, FHWA 2009) and various AASHTO publications that provide guidance on these strategies, and information on the likely impact of strategies on roadway users (including bicyclists and pedestrians) and other stakeholders. The guidebook also suggests methods for fairly evaluating proposed transit-supportive roadway strategies and describes why applying these strategies is important for transit agencies. For all readers, the guidebook provides examples of interagency partnerships that have resulted in successful implementations of transit-supportive roadway strategies. This guidebook is not intended to be read cover to cover. Instead, the majority of the guide- book provides information that will only be needed at specific points in the process of planning, designing, and implementing transit-supportive roadway strategies. The most important sec- tions to read to get a good grounding on the topic are those in Chapters 1 through 3 and either Appendix A (for transit agency staff) or Appendix B (for transportation engineers and planners).

8 A Guidebook on Transit-Supportive Roadway Strategies The guidebook contains eight chapters. In addition to this introductory chapter: • Chapter 2 describes why transit-supportive roadway strategies are needed and introduces the range of strategies covered by the guidebook. • Chapter 3 provides guidance on developing successful interagency partnerships and successful projects. • Chapter 4 provides a process for selecting an appropriate strategy. • Chapters 5 through 8 present a toolbox of potential strategies that are organized by bus opera- tions strategies, traffic control strategies, (non–bus lane) infrastructure strategies, and bus lane strategies. In addition, references and the following five appendices are provided: • Appendix A is written for transit agency staff and provides a primer on traffic engineering concepts and reference documents that apply to transit-supportive roadway strategies. • Appendix B is written for roadway agency staff and provides a primer on transit operations concepts and reference documents that apply to transit-supportive roadway strategies. • Appendix C provides guidance on managing bus and bicycle interactions in bus lanes and at bus stops. • Appendix D contains a template for submitting an experimentation request to the FHWA to use red-colored pavement for bus lanes and other bus-only links. • Appendix E is a glossary of terms used in this guidebook. 1.3 How This Guidebook Was Developed This guidebook was developed under TCRP Project A-39, “Improving Transportation Network Efficiency Through Implementation of Transit-Supportive Roadway Strategies.” The project included an international literature review on transit-supportive roadway strategy implementations and guidance, interviews with transit and roadway agencies about successful projects implementing these strategies, and original research to fill gaps in knowledge on the impacts of specific strategies. This research is documented in a companion report, TCRP Web- Only Document 66. 1.4 Terminology This guidebook avoids the use of technical terminology as much as possible. When use of a transit- or transportation engineering–specific term is unavoidable, it is defined the first time it is used in the text. Readers should note that transit industry terminology suffers from a lack of standardization; therefore, although the guidebook selects particular terms to use consistently throughout (e.g., curb extension), alternative terminology that may be more familiar to some readers is also provided (e.g., bus bulb, bus nub). Definitions of the different transit-supportive roadway strategies presented in the guidebook are provided in Section 2.2 and the Chapter 5 through 8 toolbox sections describing individual strategies. Appendix E provides a glossary of terms used. 1.5 Additional Resources This guidebook’s focus is on the planning, strategy selection, and implementation aspects of transit-supportive roadway strategies. It is designed to be used in combination with other refer- ence documents that (1) describe specific design details for particular strategies and (2) provide

Introduction 9 methods for analyzing the potential benefits of a strategy in the unique context of a particular site. Documents that are frequently referenced within this guidebook include: • Guide for Geometric Design of Transit Facilities on Highways and Streets (referred to as the Transit Guide, AASHTO 2014). This document provides specific design guidance (e.g., lane widths) for many of the infrastructure and bus lane strategies described in this guidebook. Chapter 4 of TCRP Project A-39’s final report (TCRP Web-Only Document 66) provides possible changes to the AASHTO Transit Guide resulting from the research conducted. • Highway Capacity Manual 2010 (Transportation Research Board 2010). This reference is commonly used by transportation engineers to evaluate roadway operations and defines per- formance measures commonly used to evaluate those operations. • Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (FHWA 2009). The MUTCD is the national standard for traffic control devices such as road signs, traffic signals, and pavement markings. It is used in conjunction with state supplements that may prohibit specific options allowed by the national document. • TCRP Report 165: Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual, 3rd Edition (TCQSM; Kittelson & Associates et al. 2013). Chapter 6 of the TCQSM provides methods for estimating the effects of various strategies on bus delay and travel speed. • NCHRP Report 812: Signal Timing Manual, 2nd Edition (Urbanik et al. 2015). This manual presents traffic signal and signal timing concepts, provides guidance on developing signal timing plans, and describes tools for timing signals and estimating the impacts of signal timing plans. In addition, it will be necessary to check whether local and state design manuals and traffic laws currently permit a particular strategy. If they do not, then work will be needed to obtain design exceptions or to change the relevant laws or standards prior to proceeding with that strategy. The strategy write-ups in the toolbox chapters (Chapters 5 through 8) indicate when a particular strategy is often subject to these constraints. The Additional Resources sections pro- vided with each strategy write-up in the toolbox chapters list other strategy-specific resources that may also be useful. Finally, two TCRP syntheses provide additional case study examples of successful implementa- tions of transit-supportive roadway strategies: TCRP Synthesis 83: Bus and Rail Transit Preferential Treatments in Mixed Traffic (Danaher 2010) and TCRP Synthesis 110: Commonsense Approaches for Improving Transit Bus Speeds (Boyle 2013).

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TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 183: A Guidebook on Transit-Supportive Roadway Strategies is a resource for transit and roadway agency staff seeking to improve bus speed and reliability on surface streets, while addressing the needs of other roadway users, including motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

The guidebook identifies consistent and uniform strategies to help improve transportation network efficiency to reduce delay and improve reliability for transit operations on roadways; and includes decision-making guidance for operational planning and functional design of transit/traffic operations on roads that provides information on warrants, costs, and impacts of strategies.

The guidebook also identifies the components of model institutional structures and intergovernmental agreements for successful implementation; and highlights potential changes to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and related documents to facilitate implementation of selected strategies.

In addition to the report, TCRP Web-Only Document 66: Improving Transportation Network Efficiency Through Implementation of Transit-Supportive Roadway Strategies documents the methodology used to develop the report.

A PowerPoint presentation accompanies the report.

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