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32 This section presents three case studies that provide more in-depth information on specific aspects of private transit operations and regulation: â¢ Case Study I examines the Bay Area âTech Busâ shuttle census and SFMTA commuter shuttle program, which together provide an example of a proactive and cooperative model for arriving at a regulatory structure, despite public authoritiesâ lack of statutory power. â¢ Case Study II examines consortium-based shuttles and the variety of public-private part- nerships that have been developed to support commuter access to suburban job centers, areas that would have difficulty supporting fixed-route public transit. â¢ Case Study III addresses jitneys and dollar vans in the New York City area, focusing on the evo- lution of regulatory structures and enforcement around these informal private transit networks. Case Study I: San Franciscoâs âTech Busesâ: Piloting a Cooperative Process for Prioritizing Street Use This case study examines the process of building a responsive, largely cooperative regulatory policy for the hundreds of âtech busesâ that travel between the City of San Francisco and Silicon Valley, picking up and dropping off thousands of passengers per day on each end. Use of these services has grown rapidly over the last decade, and they fill an important gap in the regional transportation system. The process of policy development, although not seamless, provides a model for jurisdictions grappling with how to prioritize the needs of the numerous public and private actors who take part in a transportation system that helps keep thousands of personal automobiles off the roads. Many of the most worldâs best-known technology companiesâincluding Facebook, Google, and Appleâare based in suburban office parks in Silicon Valley, an area of no legal defini- tion that encompasses the southern end of the Bay Area. Many of these campuses are served by employer-sponsored commuter shuttles, popularly known as âtech buses,â which transport employees to Silicon Valley from the San Francisco and other communities in the central and northern Bay Area. (Many companies and institutions outside the technology sector also pro- vide these shuttles, but the âtechâ moniker has proved to be persistent.) Most of the major employers are in municipalities that implemented TDM strategies in the years leading up to the SFMTA pilot program, requiring that they work to actively reduce the number of drive-alone commuters to their locations.8 Given the lack of direct public S E C T I O N 5 Case Studies: Local Approaches to Transportation Challenges 8Menlo Park first adopted TDM guidelines in 2001 (Menlo Park 2015), and an example of its application can be found in the TDM plan proposed by Facebook for a new campus in the city in 2011. Palo Alto initiated a TDM requirement and established a TMA in 2013. In 2015, Mountain View implemented a TDM district in the North Bayshore area, which includes office parks for such corporations as Google, Microsoft, Intuit, and LinkedIn.
Case Studies: Local Approaches to Transportation Challenges 33 transportation routes, local TDM requirements gave the companies an additional incentive to provide shuttle buses as an amenity for their employees. By 2012, the growing presence of large motor coaches, especially in gentrifying San Francisco neighborhoods such as the Mission District, along with the busesâ unsanctioned use of Muni bus stops for pick-ups and drop-offs, began attracting negative attention from residents and the media (Carroll 2013, McBride 2013). At that point, the shuttles were largely unregulated beyond state public utility commission requirements for licensing and vehicle operation. Local author- ity over the shuttles was limited to enforcement of traffic and parking regulations, with little say over whether, or how many, shuttles could operate in the city of San Francisco. Shuttle sponsors, transit operators, and the city began to recognize the value of regulations for the shuttles that went beyond writing tickets for parking violations. Since an effective system of curb access for passenger loading would tend to be widely distributed, clear of obstacles, and within walk- ing distance of many peopleâall characteristics of the existing system of Muni stopsâarriving at a way to allow managed use of those stops was of interest to both the city and to private operators. In August 2014, the SFMTA, working directly with a group of shuttle sponsors and operators, launched a cooperative pilot program that rationalized private use of the public right-of-way by 1. Allowing shuttles to use designated Muni bus stops. 2. Providing dedicated shuttle stops. 3. Offering other means of planning support and data sharing. 4. Instituting an administrative fee (charge per shuttle stop) to fund the program and strengthen enforcement of its provisions. With revisions including a requirement to plan for cooperation with organized labor, the pilot was formalized as a 12-month program starting in April 2016, with evaluation of the program beginning in the fall of 2016. In the spring of 2017, the program was extended indefinitely with ongoing mandates for ADA compliance and safety provisions. Pilot Program, 2014 to 2016 The groundwork for the Commuter Shuttle Pilot Program was laid 5 years before implemen- tation. SFMTA collaborated with the SFCTA on the latterâs 2011 report, âThe Role of Shuttle Services in San Franciscoâs Transportation Systemâ (SFCTA 2011). The researchers used a com- bination of community and passenger surveys and field observations to formulate a benefit- impact matrix, shown in Table 4. After consideration of alternatives, the SFMTAâs Sustainable Streets Division recommended the establishment of a âMuni Partnersâ program with the shuttle providers to rationalize the use of the public right-of-way, ensure safe operations, and integrate the shuttle service with other transit services. The SFCTAâs 2011 report specifically called out the following measures, which would influence the 2014 to 2016 pilot program (SFCTA 2011, 14): â¢ Create dedicated facilities to accommodate the shuttles. â¢ Develop a system for reporting of infractions and enforcement of relevant regulations. â¢ Give guidance to operators and dedicate staffing resources to the program. â¢ Create a monitoring and reporting regimen. Following SFMTA board approval, an 18-month Commuter Shuttle Pilot Program was implemented in August 2014. The initial pilot program included 16 shuttle providers, who were required to â¢ Apply for permits. â¢ Pay fees to support the administration of the program, initially $3.67 per âstop eventâ (mean- ing any stop in the city to pick up or drop off passengers). â¢ Provide global positioning system (GPS) data on routes and stop events.
34 Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions SFMTA did not dictate routes, but the larger shuttles were not permitted to travel down cer- tain streets. The agency, in turn, designated approximately 100 Muni stops (âred zonesâ) where the shuttles might stop and converted on-street parking spaces to approximately 20 shuttle-only, rush hour âwhite zoneâ stops. Mid-Term Findings In October 2015, the SFMTA published a mid-program evaluation that utilized the above- mentioned reporting requirements (SFMTA 2015). The agency collected field observations in the boarding zones in June 2014, before the program started, and collected comparable data in the spring and summer of 2015. The analysis also included GPS and survey data shared by the participating shuttles as part of the terms of their pilot program agreement. Shuttle Data The following data on shuttles were reported: â¢ Number and size of shuttles. The shuttle operators registered 479 vehicles by March 2015. Most were motor coaches (399)âeither single- or double-decker buses, with a capacity of more than 40 passengersâwith the remainder split between minibuses seating up to 30 pas- sengers (40), Muni-style transit buses (30), and vans (10). â¢ Passengers carried. The shuttles in the program averaged 17,000 boardings per day (or approximately 8,500 riders per day), for 356,998 boardings per month. Of these boardings, 76% were intercity regional shuttle trips, and 24% had origins and destinations within San Francisco. Beneits Category Measure Public Private (Broad in scope, highly regionalized) Congestion Vehicle trips avoided X VMT avoided X Load factor X Environmental Emissions reduced (CO2) X Emissions reduced (ROG, NOx, PM) X Economic Local spending induced X Employee retention X Productive time gained X Accessibility X Quality of Life Car ownership reduced X X Leisure or personal time gained X (More detailed, operations level, localized) Congestion Displacement of other vehicles (cars, bikes) when parked or idling X X Displacement of Muni vehicles when parked or idling X Environmental Emissions produced (due to larger vehicle size or when idling) X Quality of Life Noise/vibrations X X Safety Unsafe sightlines if double-parked or in Muni zone X Unsafe sightlines at certain locations if moving (e.g., turning corners) X X Collisions X X Pavement Condition Wear and tear on pavement X Wear and tear on curb bulbs (e.g., turning corners) X Impacts Table 4. High-level shuttle benefits and Impacts. (Credit: SFCTA 2011)
Case Studies: Local Approaches to Transportation Challenges 35 â¢ Stop events. Participating shuttles made an estimated 2,302 daily stop events in June 2014 in the study area, before the launch of the program. In July 2015, they estimated 2,978 daily stop events in the study area, a 29% increase. â¢ Trip distances and shuttle VMT. The intercity shuttles traveled an average of 47 miles per trip, while the intracity shuttles traveled an average of 2 miles per trip. The study estimated the overall shuttle VMT as follows: â 47,484 per weekday â 997,156 per month â 11,965,877 per year The VMT numbers include âdeadhead,â or empty, shuttle trips (SFMTA 2015, 12). Finally, the dwell times per boarding increased over the study time, although the effect was minimal on the system as whole. Rider Data and Personal VMT Reduction Attributable to Commuter Shuttles SFMTA surveyed shuttle riders in June 2015. Of nearly 550 respondents, 72% rode the shuttle daily, and 18% rode a few times a week. The surveyâs split of intercity (76%) to intracity (24%) trips was almost identical to boardings data, with 55% of respondents going to Menlo Park. The survey reported that ânearly half (45%) of survey respondents do not own cars, and 45% of those who do not own cars cited shuttles as the âmain reasonâ they did not own a carâ (SFMTA 2015, 16) The survey also reported that 47% of the riders would commute via single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) if the shuttles were not available. Using the shuttle and rider data, SFMTA estimated a net monthly reduction of 4,296,837 VMT (SFMTA 2015, 18). Safety and Enforcement The SFMTA pilot addressed some of the behavior of the shuttles during stop events in the shuttle zones, especially those âwhere shuttle activity has received significant attentionâ like the Mission District (SFMTA 2015, 19): â¢ Blocking problems. Instances of the shuttles blocking Muni stops decreased by 35% year over year, but the overall increase of stop events and the addition of white zones caused increases in travel- and bike-lane blockages across the system. Stops on the near side of intersections blocked travel or bike lanes 51% of the time during the observation period. Near-side blocking also created potential hazards for pedestrians. â¢ Vehicle idling, noise, and unauthorized street use. Some public responses were con- cerned with shuttle vehicles idling in neighborhoods and vehicle noise and presence. Other problems included shuttles traveling down unauthorized streets or making unau- thorized stops. The latter prompted reforms to the program as it approached formalization into policy. Labor Harmony and New Policy The SFMTA board formalized the pilot as a policy in February 2016, following the recom- mendations of its evaluation report. Additions to the policy stated that â¢ Shuttles over 35 feet in length must travel only on Caltrans-designated arterial streets. â¢ New shuttle vehicles must meet 2012 California emissions standards. â¢ Shuttle operators must provide a Service Disruption Prevention Plan (SFMTA 2017).
36 Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions The latter provision, which required companies to outline plans for preventing and deal- ing with potential service disruptions, including labor disputes, was drafted in response to the International Brotherhood of Teamstersâ organizing of drivers for the major shuttle provid- ers and to possible disruptions due to resistance by some employers (SF Board of Supervisors Resolution 96-15, 2015). The SFMTA Board of Directors announced its compliance with the labor resolution at the end of the pilot program. The program also permits shuttles that are free and open to the public to use the shuttle zone network without paying the stop event fee (SFMTA 2017). The permit process was codified in Section 914 of the San Francisco Transportation Code. Hub Study, 2016 Faced with shuttlesâ persistent issues of conflict with other road users, use of non-arterial streets, and use of nearly all the permitted number of zones, the SFCTA and SFMTA undertook a study to explore the feasibility of concentrating over 100 red zone Muni and white zone shuttle- only stops into a small number of hubs. The study explored multiple scenarios, which ranged from simply consolidating the number of stops to 30 along arterial corridors to creating a single large hub in downtown San Francisco (SFMTA 2016b, 9). The scenarios attempted to address the goals of moving the shuttles out of neighborhoods, making them safer, and more fully integrating them into the public transit system. Mode shift and VMT analyses showed that âshuttle ridership would drop between 24% and 45%, nearly all those prior shuttle riders would switch to driving, and VMT would increase five- to eight-foldâ (SFMTA 2016b, 2). A San Francisco Chronicle article published during the writing of the study illustrated a possible correlation between elimination of some stops and a decline in ridership on the shuttles (Lee 2016). 2017 Policy and Possible Changes The policy was set to expire on March 31, 2017, but was extended with modifications, including a requirement that âpermitted shuttles placed in service after June 30, 2017 comply with disability access requirements.â Remaining in the resolution is the assertion that âshuttle service provides significant benefits to the community by replacing single occupant trips with more efficient transportation, contributing to a reduction in parking demand, and supporting the Cityâs goal of increasing trips made by sustainable modesâ (SFMTA Board of Directors Res. 170221-023). Conclusion The San Francisco commuter shuttle program is a case of a public agency finding a coopera- tive way to bring unregulated, private transit companies to the table in a voluntary program, which evolved into a working policy, with beneficial outcomes for many of the stakeholders. In framing the 2017 launch of the final policy, SFMTA asserted that the Commuter Shuttle Program has improved shuttle vehicle behavior while minimizing the impacts of shuttle vehicles on the rest of the transportation network, despite a 15 percent increase in shuttle ridership and an increase in the number of shuttle vehicles on the road each day as compared to the Pilot. (2017, 1) Although the process was not seamless, it provides a model for other jurisdictions grappling with how to expand commuting options and prioritize the needs of the numerous public and private actors who take part in a transportation system that helps keep many personal auto- mobiles off the road every day.
Case Studies: Local Approaches to Transportation Challenges 37 Case Study II: Consortium-Sponsored Services: Public-Private Partnerships to Access Low-Density Areas The service model that this report has termed âconsortium-sponsored servicesâ is neither wholly sponsored by a single entity like the large employer shuttle networks, nor is it purely commercial. Instead, the consortium-sponsored shuttles examined here are the product of public-private partnerships that usually provide last-mile service in lower density areas. The case study comprises five examples, representing a variety of urban forms and transportation contexts: â¢ San Mateo County Shuttles, coordinated by the San Mateo County (California) TDM agency, provide last-mile private transit from regional high-capacity transit services. â¢ Austin is experimenting with employer-anchored, last-mile microtransit routes open to the public. â¢ The Lake-Cook TMA outside Chicago combines the resources of private employers to sub- sidize public bus routes between commuter rail stops and large suburban office campuses. â¢ Lone Tree, Colorado, provides private transit shuttle service and allows transit-oriented development to take place while waiting for planned transit facilities to be built. â¢ In Atlantaâs northern suburbs, community improvement districts contract for private last- mile and circulator shuttles to extend the reach of MARTA rail service. In each example, the private transit services are open to the public and, with a few exceptions, are free to all users. Public-private partnerships are attractive to the private employment and residential centers because private transit provides an alternative to drive-alone commutes, helps with employee recruitment and retention, and sometimes helps to satisfy local TDM requirements. The arrangement is attractive to public entities that provide funding and/or operating assistance for the shuttles for some of the same reasons, as well as supporting ridership on existing transit lines and fulfilling clean air requirements. The most successful of these programs have documented success in diverting SOV trips, keep- ing cars off congested roads and highways, and helping to bolster regional transit ridership, with modest costs to the public. San Mateo County Shuttles: Giving Employers an Active Stake in Route Planning and Regional TDM The consortium-based service shuttle coordinated by Commute.org in San Mateo County, CA, serves as a last-mile solution from regional high-capacity transit services. San Mateo County, at the south end of the Peninsula, is served by Caltrain commuter rail, BART heavy rail, the countyâs SamTrans buses, and ferries along the coast. Some of the companies in the county run the direct commuter shuttles from San Francisco, as discussed elsewhere in this report. Many also choose to participate in the countyâs last-mile shuttle program. Commute.org is San Mateo Countyâs TDM agency, a joint-powers agency that covers 17 municipalities and the county government and receives funding through the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG), the San Mateo County Transpor- tation Authority (SMCTA), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and the MTC (Commute.org interview 2017). The Commute.org program features â¢ Public and private funding. Consortium members provide a local match ranging from 25% to 50% of the cost of the service, with the remainder provided by county grant funds from
38 Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions SMCTA, C/CAG, and Measure A funds. Measure A is a sales county tax measure that was approved by voters in 1988 and renewed for 2009 through 2033. Employers or sites can apply directly for county grants to support their own shuttles, or they can work through Commute.org to build a group of employers and allow the TDM group to manage the planning and operation of the shuttles. â¢ TDM management and coordination. In addition to spreading the risk among more private participants, Commute.org helps fund and build the consortium, plans the routes to not conflict with existing bus routes, procures a transportation vendor, and markets the system using common branding and information. â¢ Services, costs, and ridership levels. Vehicles range in size from 20 to 40 passengers. As of June 2017, there are 21 routes, and the cost to the employer/site per month ranges from $100 to $3,000, on a 6-month billing cycle. The Commute.org program has seen a 47.3% increase in passenger trips from fiscal year 2013 to fiscal year 2016 (Commute.org 2016, Commute.org interview 2017, SMCTA 2017). The transportation vendor, MV Transportation, provides ADA-accessible buses with trained drivers and provides data for the county transit agency to report to the National Transit Data- base (NTD). The shuttles are free and open to the public and run during the weekday peak hours (Commute.org interview 2017). Employer-Anchored Microtransit in Central Austin Austinâs MetroRail light rail transit (LRT) line connects several of the growing regionâs sub- urbs to the heart of downtown Austin, but with the cityâs relatively low density, many employ- ment centers, even those with central city locations, are âsomewhat near transit, but not quite close enough to walk comfortably,â in the words of Alix Scarborough of Movability Austin, the Downtown Austin TMA (2017b). To make the train a more useful option for employees just beyond its reach, the TMA, City of Austin, and Capital Metro partnered with the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute and several large employers in the 6th Street Market District, west of downtown, to pilot employer-supported microtransit routes operated by Chariot (Movability Austin 2017a). Under Chariotâs business model, routes are generally either âpublicâ (open to anybody with the application who happens to be going that direction) or âprivateâ (sponsored ser- vices open only to the sponsorsâ employees). In Austin, two large Market District companies worked with the public-sector and nonprofit partners to sponsor their employeesâ trips on a route that was otherwise open to the publicâanchoring a new microtransit service for the district and creating a new fare-based mobility option for other employees in the area. The routes created under the system became Chariotâs first permanent routes in the Austin region (Velazquez 2016). Lake-Cook TMA Shuttle Bug: Private Support for Fully âPublicâ Routes The Shuttle Bug service in Chicagoâs northern suburbs is the most visible public-private col- laboration of the consortium-sponsored shuttles, as the Pace transit agency operates the shuttle lines with buses that operate as public transit (i.e., with standard fareboxes) for the general public. Sponsored riders enjoy a free last-mile trip from Metra commuter rail stations to their work destinations. The program was initiated by the Lake-Cook TMA, which was formed in 1989 in response to drive-alone traffic generated by a proliferation of suburban office parks around the expressways
Case Studies: Local Approaches to Transportation Challenges 39 and Lake-Cook Road in Chicagoâs northwestern suburbs. The Shuttle Bug program was initiated in 1996 and is a public-private partnership of the TMA, Metra commuter rail, Pace Suburban Bus, and several corporate partners. Pace owns and operates the buses as numbered routes in their system, with the operating cost supported by the private partners and whatever farebox revenue is also generated on the routes (LaBelle and FrÃ¨ve 2016, 30; Grzesiakowski and Gamba 2013a; TMA of Lake-Cook 2017). Program details include â¢ Public-private financing. On the operations side, the companies contribute half the cost of the program by way of the TMA, and Metra and Pace split the other half (25% overall, each). â¢ Services and ridership. The program currently offers 13 routes that serve 30 compa- nies with 1,000 daily rider trips and 250,000 annual trips. Although this is down from a peak of 1,700 daily trips in 2008, the TMA attributes part of the decrease to the number of employers in the area that have seen the value in providing non-automobile com- mute options to their employees and have chosen to bypass the TMA and finance private shuttles directly (increasing their control over the level of amenity). At least a dozen large employers in the TMA area now provide their own shuttles from Metra stations in the district (LaBelle and FrÃ¨ve 2016, 31; Grzesiakowski and Gamba 2013a and 2013b; TMA interview 2017). Lone Tree Link: Enabling Transit-Oriented Development Before the Transit Arrives The Denver metropolitan area continues to grow both geographically and economically. The south-suburban City of Lone Tree was incorporated in 1995 in response to land-use pressure and has grown rapidly since as both a job center and a residential area. According to Lone Treeâs Director of Economic Development, some 15,000 to 20,000 employees work in a city of around 13,000 residents and just under 10 square miles in area. Lone Tree straddles I-25 and currently sits at the southern terminus of the Regional Transit Districtâs (RTD) Southeast Corridor LRT line. Construction has begun on a southward exten- sion of the line that will open three more LRT stations in the city by 2019. The city has planned its future growth around the arrival of the additional stations and service, with dense, walkable transit-oriented development as a central part of that vision and of its eco- nomic development portfolio. In the meantime, however, Lone Tree remains a relatively low-density exurban area. Anticipating the arrival of the additional LRT stations in the city, but knowing that they were still several years away, municipal and corporate leaders in Lone Tree collaborated to provide a private local circulator service that would allow the city to start building around transit before the transit arrived (Charles Schwab interview 2017, Lone Tree interview 2017, Svaldi 2014). The financial services firm Charles Schwab & Co. decided to site a large campus in the city due to proximity to housing and transit and in anticipation of the new LRT service. In the interim, Schwab teamed with the Denver South TMA, the City of Lone Tree, and companies from two other corporate campusesâthe Sky Ridge Medical Center and Park Ridge Corporate Centerâ to run the Lone Tree Link Shuttle, a private local circulator. The $500,000 annual cost is split among the consortium members, with Schwab pay- ing slightly more than half. Each private partner contracts separately with the city for their participation. The shuttle is contracted to a private operator that runs Link-branded vans that are free and open to the public, although work-destined users are an estimated 90% of the ridership. Although it is overwhelmingly a commuter service, the Link runs every 10 minutes throughout
40 Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions its service period (weekdays, 6am to 7pm). The latest annual report shows approximately 350 daily riders and claims an average of 5.9 riders per revenue hour, which outpaces the 3.0 ratio that the RTD sets as its standard for its public call-and-ride option. The shuttles are all ADA-compliant, but are considered a private service and do not report to the NTD. As the shuttle runs on a fixed route, it benefits the larger campuses and was always envisioned as a temporary solution while the city awaits the arrival of the new LRT stations. Charles Schwab will be two blocks from a light rail stop and will not need the shuttle. The city is launching within a year a pilot to explore a possible last-mile solution with a TNC. This would serve the smaller companies that could not afford the Link on their own. Given its popularity, the city is consider- ing a âLink 2.0â that would serve the new stations, as well (Charles Schwab interview 2017, Lone Tree interview 2017, Woullard 2014, Lone Tree 2017). Perimeter Connects: Creating a Shuttle Network at Atlantaâs Suburban Edge The Perimeter Center is an âedge cityâ in north suburban Atlanta that includes parts of the Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and Brookhaven municipalities, as well as other unincorpo- rated areas. In many ways, it is an archetypal suburban activity node: it draws its name from the mall at its center that was, in turn, named after the ring road Interstate at the peak of which it is built. The district now contains a major medical center and is a one of the regionâs major business districts, with some 120,000 employees working at 5,000 firms in the widely dispersed area (PCID 2012). The four northernmost stations of the MARTA rail system sit within the district, and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority provides limited express bus service in the area. The Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) include both the Central and Fulton Perimeter CIDs, in DeKalb and Fulton Counties, respectively. The Perimeter CIDs are self-taxing entities that have, under the Georgia model, the ability to implement a broad range of programs, including transportation services like the Perimeter Connects commuter program, which coordinates, brands, and publishes schedule information for private shut- tles operating in the district (Kuhn, Larson, and Bourdeaux 2016). While the CIDs support a branded network of about a dozen shuttles, other companies within their jurisdictions contract directly with bus operators to provide last-mile services from MARTA and within the district. The Perimeter Connect shuttles are operated by American Coach Lines. It contracts with several different businesses, who cosign under one contract governed by a memorandum of understanding and a chairperson. The bus drivers work for the company as W-2 employees, and the buses are wheelchair accessible. The contractor does not report to the NTD, but pri- vately reports 15,000 to 16,000 passengers per month. The contractor does not compare rider- ship to capacity; rather, headways and schedules appear to be the biggest concern. While the contractor does not see automation on the horizon, it looks to Chariot and other microtransit companies as a possible model for improving service (PCID 2012, American Coach Lines interview 2017). Conclusion These examples of consortium-sponsored services provide several compelling models for enhancing regional public transit investments in a variety of contexts. All are in areas where current land uses make public bus service a challenge, and walking and biking are not reasonable
Case Studies: Local Approaches to Transportation Challenges 41 options. Consortium-sponsored services are often closely coordinated with public entities, such as municipalities or TDM groups, with public monies helping to underwrite the transportation provided. In all these examples, the services are at their core an extension of regional high- capacity public transit and improve access to employment in noncore parts of their metro areas. The private-sector contribution is provided as an amenity to attract employees and customers who may not want to, or be able to, drive to a suburban location. As largely private services, the shuttlesâ routes can be tailored for quick connections and more direct service and can be responsive to changes in the local mix of employers and develop- ment. With the growth of population and commercial activity in low-density land-use contexts showing no sign of abating, finding ways to support suburban trips on transit will only grow in importance. Case Study III: Dollar Vans and Jersey Jitneys: Grassroots Private Transit Evolves at the Regulatory Margins While the commuter shuttles that serve the San Francisco Bay Area serve many users who would otherwise drive alone on trips that are not practical to make via public transit, the dollar vans and jitneys in the New York City area and New Jersey included in this case study tend to serve a population less likely to have vehicles of their own. To give an idea of the scale of this mostly informal network, transportation scholar Eric Goldwyn estimates that the New York City metropolitan commuter van network serves more than 100,000 riders daily, more than many major U.S. citiesâ public bus networks (Goldwyn 2017, 20). The regulatory environment that surrounds the vans and jitneys is confusing and often out of step with the servicesâ basic operational characteristics. Recent policy changes attempt to induce participation in licensing through lowered requirements and higher fines for rogue operators, a sign that regulators and operators are evolving in tandem. At present, however, regulatory structures for this grassroots system are still struggling to balance the transportation and safety needs of passengers, the business needs of operators, and the public policy needs of regulating authorities and public transit agencies. New York City Dollar Vans As discussed in the historical overview in Section 1 of this report, the jitney mode of private transit first arose with popular access to automobiles. The rebirth of the jitney and the mod- ern dollar van in the New York City area was born of municipal fiscal crises of the 1970s and grew especially following the 1980 transit strike. Given cuts in services, New York City and New York State (the latter controls the MTA) took a liberal approach to granting commuter van permits. The vans emerged as popular transportation options in Brooklyn and Queens, especially in immigrant communities from the West Indies and parts of Asia (Goldwyn 2017, 45; Richardson 1999). By 1992, the city was ready to take regulatory control over the vans, which was granted on a limited basis along state guidelines. New York State regulates the safe operation of what it defines as busesâany vehicle used to transport more than 10 people, including a driver (NY State Regs., 720.1). The city licensed âcommuter vans,â which it defined as carrying between 9 and 20 passengers, on a route that does not travel or stop along a route traveled by MTA buses, on a prearranged
42 Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions basis (i.e., without accepting street hails) (Goldwyn 2017, 48; NYC Code Â§19-502 and Â§19-529.1). Licensing is handled by the New York City Taxi and Limousine TLC, which also regulates other FHVs under 20 passengers (NYC Code Â§52-02). The New York City vans often parallel New York City MTA bus routes and stop anywhere along the route, but often deliver riders to destinations at less fare and time cost to the user than a ride on MTA. The effect is magnified when vans make express trips between destinations of inter- est to specific communities. For instance, dollar vans provide express service between Chinatowns in Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn, in about 20 minutesâa trip that takes more than an hour on MTA local routes (Margonelli 2011). On their face, the commuter van route and street hail provisions place nearly every van, licensed or âpirate,â in violation of the law. The vans travel and pick up fares on the bor- oughsâ major arterials, almost all of which are MTA bus routes. Likewise, the vans are ad hoc services that do not travel on fixed schedules between stops, so by their nature they rely on street hails. The TLC appears to be heading toward a simplified regulatory environment that does more to recognize the vansâ basic operating characteristics. The latest regulatory revisions eliminated the requirement for the vans to carry a passenger manifest (a vestige of the idea that they provide a prearranged service, but which was widely ignored in practice) and emphasized the display of van license decals to make it easier for passengers to tell licensed vans from unlicensed, encour- aging their use of the former. While the relevant enforcement agencies have attempted to limit the vans to specific pick-up zones, in practice the vans, licensed or unlicensed, do not adhere to the rules (TLC interview 2017, NYCDOT interview 2017). However, as a New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) staffer noted in an interview (2017), calls for better enforcement often come from the licensed vans within the industry, as van owners that pay for inspections and licensing will report the pirate vans if they see them cutting into their business or loading passengers at the few designated commuter van stands. Likewise, the police enforce traffic behavior, not licensing issues. But the contradictions at the core of the dollar van regulatory scheme remain unresolved (King and Goldwyn 2014, Reiss 2014). New Jersey Jitneys The New Jerseyâbased jitneys arose in the 1990s and spread in the new millennium. Although they have their origins in the immigrant neighborhoods of the city of Paterson and Hudson County, the jitneys are more widely visible and have gained a more general ridership (Hellman interview 2017). Some of the New Jersey jitneysâ greater visibility could be due to many of the routesâ greater regulatory exposure as they cross state lines to access New York City destinations. Some routes have gained a form of sanction in Manhattan by securing their own gates in the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown and the authorityâs George Washington Bridge Bus Station in far uptown Fort Washington. In the latter, jitney compa- nies operate out of four gates to NJ Transitâs seven. The Hudson County origins are served by multiple public transit modes, with NJ Transit buses and Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) Corporation heavy rail serving the county, as well as ferry service. Just as with the New York City dollar vans, the jitney form follows regulatory function. The jit- neys that cross from New Jersey to Manhattan fall under federal jurisdiction, as they are engaging in interstate commerce. At the federal level, the vehicles are classified by passenger capacity, with the relevant breaks at 9- to15-seat vehicles and those with more than 16 seats. Since the jitneys
Case Studies: Local Approaches to Transportation Challenges 43 accept direct compensation from the passenger, they are subject to full Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. As shown in Table 5, the primary concern of the regulation is vehicle safety, and the chief difference between the two categories is the level of liability insurance required (NJTPA 2011, 53â59). The regulatory considerations devolve to the state level for operations that take place entirely within New Jersey, although the Department of Motor Vehicles assists in both federal regula- tions. Here, the municipalities have the power of consent regarding operations (mainly, stops) within their jurisdiction. Most intrastate jitneys cross at least a few municipal borders. The 2011 Hudson County Jitney Study called for consideration of a Hudson County (where most of the non-Paterson service occurs) medallion/decal system, but no such system or its analogue has been implemented. The major shifts in policy have occurred with a 2013 safety law that includes a requirement that every âomnibusâ (i.e., jitney) post a means of contacting the state over safety or other consumer affairs concerns (NJ P.L. 2013 c.224, Brenzel 2015). The state and counties have also launched surprise inspections. The state also distinguishes between types of buses, so that vehicles that are performing commercial services are identi- fied apart from those performing nonprofit services, e.g., transporting residents of assisted liv- ing facilities. Vehicle accessibility in compliance with ADA standards remains elusive, however (NJMVC 2013; NJDMV 2017, Code 54; NJTPA 2011, 46). Table 5. Federal and New Jersey state regulations: jitneys/commuter vans. (Source: NJTPA 2011) (continued on next page)
44 Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions Regardless of these regulations, representatives of Hudson County are still working to create greater oversight (Mota 2016). On the other hand, while safety and ADA accessibility remain issues, planners and politicians face the projection of latent demand for trans-Hudson River crossings, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal faces capacity issues (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey 2016, A-2). Conclusion In the case of both the New York City dollar vans and New Jersey jitneys, the services fill an accessibility need for transit-dependent populations. Regulation and enforcement has not proved consistent, with the latter more geared toward enforcement of general traffic violations, such as blocking bus stops. While they might face some disruption from electronic hailing tech- nologies and TNCs, the jitney mode has proven robust and persistent in the region. Table 5. (Continued).