Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Flexible public transportation services include a range of services that are not fully demand responsive or fixed route. While these types of services have been around for over 40 years, it was believed that flexible public transportation services were operated by a relatively small per- centage of public transit agencies. In a survey for this study of nearly 1,100 public transporta- tion operators, it was revealed that 39 percent of the 500 respondents (ranging from small rural to large urban operators) provided some type of flexible public transportation service. Many agencies that have implemented flexible public transportation services have real- ized real benefits while others have attempted this approach and abandoned the effort after several months or years. Often, in rural and small urban areas, flexible public transportation services can serve senior citizens and persons with disabilities at a lower cost than demand- responsive service. Also, in suburban communities, a flexible public transportation service with small buses may encourage first-time public transit users to leave their cars at home and use the service to connect with regional transit services to reach nearby destinations. For the purposes of this study, the concept of flexible public transportation services includes the following: â¢ Route Deviationâvehicles operating on a regular schedule along a well-defined path, with or without marked bus stops, that deviate to serve demand-responsive requests within a zone around the path. The width or extent of the zone may be precisely established or flexible. â¢ Point Deviationâvehicles serving demand-responsive requests within a zone and also serv- ing a limited number of stops within the zone without any regular path between the stops. â¢ Demand-Responsive Connectorâvehicles operating in demand-responsive mode within a zone, with one or more scheduled transfer points that connect with a fixed-route network. A high percentage of ridership consists of trips to or from the transfer points. â¢ Request Stopsâvehicles operating in conventional fixed-route, fixed-schedule mode and also serving a limited number of undefined stops along the route in response to passenger requests. â¢ Flexible-Route Segmentsâvehicles operating in conventional fixed-route, fixed-schedule mode, but switching to demand-responsive operation for a limited portion of the route. â¢ Zone Routeâvehicles operating in demand-responsive mode along a corridor with estab- lished departure and arrival times at one or more end points in the zone. This guide will identify best practices and barriers to effective implementation of flexible public transportation services and will also move the research into practice by suggesting specific actions that public transit providers can take to more effectively consider and successfully implement flexible public transportation service alternatives. The research revealed that flexible public transportation is structured differently and serves very different needs depending on the area served. For this reason, this guide offers a 1 S U M M A R Y A Guide for Planning and Operating Flexible Public Transportation Services
decision-making framework for agencies considering flexible public transportation services in three different operating environments: â¢ Rural Areas (Under 50,000 in population) â¢ Small Urban Areas (50,000 to 200,000 in population) â¢ Large Urban Areas (more than 200,000 in population) Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Flexible Public Transportation Service provides an overview of the current state of flexible public transportation services in the United States. This is accomplished by sharing the results of a comprehensive survey of 95 agencies that offer one or more types of flexible public transportation service. The list of respondents and the survey instrument are presented in Appendices A and B. (Appendices A through C avail- able by searching for âTCRP Report 140â on www.trb.org.) Chapter 2: Framework/Decision Matrix for Considering Flexible Public Transportation Service uses previous research studies, the results of the survey for this study, and lessons learned during on-site visits to numerous flexible public transportation service operations to assist agencies in making a decision on the applicability of flexible public transportation services in their locality. The framework takes into consideration the key factors that affect the effectiveness of flexible public transportation services, including population and employment densities, trip purpose, and clientele served. Decision guide flowcharts are presented to help agencies determine whether flexible public transportation services should be considered. Chapter 3: Implementing New Flexible Public Transportation Services guides local agen- cies through the process of implementing flexible public transportation services if implemen- tation has been determined to be feasible. This chapter identifies key steps for local decision makers to follow such as analyzing existing conditions, obtaining community input, planning and scheduling the service, determining capital needs, and marketing the services. Chapter 4: Best Practices of Successful Flexible Public Transportation Services presents detailed information on nine agencies that operate a range of flexible public transporta- tion services and one agency that operated flexible public transportation service and then discontinued the service. The agencies and contact persons are identified, and service area characteristics are described for the overall service area and specifically for the flexible public transportation service area. The flexible public transportation services are described in detail, productivity standards and measures are noted, and other issues faced by the agen- cies are described. Some of the agencies have accumulated considerable data on their flexi- ble public transportation services and noted trends; this information will be very useful to similar agencies that may be considering implementing flexible public transportation ser- vices. Finally, Appendix Câavailable on the TRB website (www.trb.org) by searching on TCRP Report 140âprovides a collection of marketing materials from the websites of over 20 different operators of flexible public transportation service. This material can be very use- ful to any agency wishing to gain more information on similar services operated in small and large communities throughout the United States. In summary, the primary objective of this research effort is the development of a practical guide that public transportation providers can use to consider the merits of flexible public transportation services. Agencies should learn that the costs per trip for flexible public trans- portation are higher than the costs per trip for fixed-route public transportation. Additionally, flexible public transportation services require communications and scheduling technology that exceeds the communications and scheduling technology needs of fixed-route public transporta- tion. Finally, customers who use public transportation for time-sensitive trips, including work and school trips, may resist a change to flexible public transportation services. 2 A Guide for Planning and Operating Flexible Public Transportation Services
Nonetheless, for an agency that has areas and/or services that are conducive to flexible public transportation, this service type can serve many needs, including the following: â¢ Reducing the costs of full demand-response services in rural areas where passengers frequent common destinations such as medical centers, senior citizen centers, or shopping centers. â¢ Eliminating the need to operate ADA-complementary paratransit in a specific geographic area or systemwide, if an agency chooses to eliminate fixed-route services in those areas. â¢ Providing an introduction to public transportation for suburban residents not served by reg- ular fixed-route service by offering convenient connections to frequent fixed-route buses or fixed-guideway systems. Summary 3