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.
1 Comprehensive bus network redesigns, in which transit agencies fundamentally alter the structure and organization of their bus networks, are not completely novel in transit. How- ever, redesigns have become seemingly more common in recent years and have even been called the âHottest Trend in Transitâ (Vock 2017). The motivations for embarking on network redesigns vary across transit agencies, but, given the prevalence of redesigns in recent history and with more redesigns likely to come, the transit industry will benefit from improved docu- mentation of network redesign rationales, outcomes, best practices, and challenges. This synthesis captures the many components that are needed to successfully plan and implement a redesign and carefully considers the goals and objectives that agencies set forth when they began that process, helping them determine whether a redesign even made sense for the agency at that point in time. For example, even if it appears that system restructuring is needed, depending on the resources and political will, it sometimes makes more sense to do a full restructuring in batches or continue with small tweaks over time. There is no industry-accepted definition of network redesign, so the first step in this synthesis research was to establish an acceptable definition. For purposes of this synthesis report, a network redesign refers to the planning and implementation of significant changes to a transit agencyâs network of bus routes, informed by an evaluation of the network struc- ture as a whole rather than solely as a collection of routes. Network redesigns can take a âblank slateâ approach, in which transit agencies design the bus network without being tied to previous bus routes or network structures. The âblank slateâ approach is more about the process than how it is implemented; even in this approach agencies still take into account the need to keep routes when it makes sense and make small changes to others. Alternatively, some network redesigns use an approach in which the new network design and routes are as similar as possible to current structures while still making significant changes across the entire network. Which approach an agency takes is not black and white â in practice, the approach is a process difference with gradations between a blank slate and tweaks. This synthesis reviews a variety of redesigns that took varying approaches and used various terminology â some agencies called their projects redesigns and some called them comprehensive operational analysis â but the common thread was their willingness to look holistically at their bus networks and make large scale improvements. This synthesis report is structured to help transit agency and local government leadership, staff, and governing boards â and even transit advocates â better understand the purpose and business case, or the why and how, for conducting a redesign. The information is designed to assist agencies in conducting various components of the planning process, the critical public and stakeholder engagement components, and implementation. It highlights lessons learned from agencies that have gone through or are currently in the midst of the redesign S U M M A R Y Comprehensive Bus Network Redesigns
2 Comprehensive Bus Network Redesigns process that should be helpful to other agencies or jurisdictions that are already conducting or are considering a bus network redesign. The report includes (1) a review of 13 reports and industry resource publications per- taining to bus network redesigns and bus planning and a review of 10 self-published agency documents about bus network redesigns; (2) a survey of transit agencies that had current or past experience with considering, planning, and/or implementing a bus system redesign (the survey was completed by 38 agencies out of 49 eligible agencies); and (3) detailed case studies for five of the agencies that completed surveys that provide greater insight into the process and considerations for these five examples. The synthesis is by no means exhaustive, but it is comprehensive; there are other systems that have conducted or are conducting system redesigns that have neither been captured in the literature review nor included in the survey results, either because they did not respond or because a survey was not sent to them. Unlike traditional literature reviews that include only true publications, this synthesis includes review of agency-published documents and other non-peer-reviewed documents. As the field of transit system redesign is so new and still evolving, constraining the research to traditional publications would have limited the timeliness of the information and the breadth of work that is ongoing in this area in 2018. Thirty-eight agencies representing 22 states and one Canadian province responded to the survey conducted as part of this synthesis; two of these 38 indicated that they had neither conducted a redesign nor were they considering one, resulting in 36 usable surveys. Of these, 21 (58%) operate as independent, 11 (31%) are arms of local or state government, while the remaining four (11%) have a different relationship with the area they serve. Learn- ing about network redesigns from a wide variety of agencies that responded to the survey â 17 that have implemented bus network redesigns, 16 that are in the planning process, and three that are considering one â proved extremely valuable. These 36 agencies spanned North America and included a wide variety of agency sizes and modes operated â 15 of the systems operate in environments with no regular heavy rail, light rail, or commuter rail service and 21 of the systems operate in environments with commuter rail, heavy rail, and/or light rail service. Five case examples of a range of survey respondents are included in this synthesis. Case exam ples from three agencies that have completely implemented bus network redesigns (Connect Transit in Bloomington-Normal, IL; Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus; and MDOT MTA Maryland in Baltimore, MD) are reviewed, along with one partially implemented redesign (Dallas Area Rapid Transit in Dallas, TX) and one agency still in the planning process (King County Metro in Seattle, WA). These detailed case examples pro- vide deeper insight into each agencyâs vision and goals for the redesign, the system design parameters, public and stakeholder engagement, implementation, and next steps. The case examples demonstrate that agencies had common visions and goals for improving the system comprehensively, from operational efficiency to providing service that would meet the needs of the riders. They also indicate the extensive amount of public and internal agency communication and coordination that must occur during the planning process and prior to implementation; the all-at-once approach versus the phased implementation approach also proved to result in slight differences in the approach and levels of engagement at imple- mentation time. The literature review, survey, and case examples yielded many conclusions, common strategies, and lessons learned from across North America. Highlights include the following. Vision, Goals, and Objectives 1. Bus network redesigns are usually conducted to focus on the needs of the riders and potential riders and on the agenciesâ need to operate efficiently. Redesigns are geared toward improving the quality and utility of transit service by better meeting the current
Summary 3 and future travel patterns and needs of both current and potential riders. Some of the primary objectives cited in the survey for conducting a redesign include simplifying the system for ease of public use, improving rider satisfaction, increasing ridership (or counteracting ridership losses), improving on-time performance and reliability, reeval- uating the âbig pictureâ structure of the bus network, and increasing operational effi- ciency and effectiveness. 2. Curbing or controlling operating costs was a key motivator for many bus network redesigns. Many redesigns were planned with a cost-neutral operating plan, with limited resources being redeployed to other parts of the network. The plethora of good data on bus performance that was not widely available before the early 2010s (and even later for many agencies) has provided a way to really tighten up service, focus on per- formance, and keep operating costs in-check. 3. There is significant consistency in goals, approach, and service design in redesigns across agencies. Peer-to-peer knowledge sharing is prevalent in the industry, ensuring that best practices and lessons learned are passed along from one agency to the next. Through conferences, workshops such as the TransitCenter workshop on transit system redesigns in July 2017, and informal discussion and site visits, agencies are learning from each other. Additionally, there are fewer than 10 consulting firms that are doing this type of work, so the consultants working with the agencies also bring along consistency in approach from one system to the next. Planning Process 4. The quality of a network design plan is contingent on good data. Having good data is critical to developing a good bus network plan. Most agencies that are planning or have planned a redesign relied on onboard surveys, census data, and automated vehicle loca- tion (AVL) and automated passenger counter (APC) data, along with extensive input from the public. 5. Measurement and quantification of anticipated and actual improvements from bus network redesigns can be key tools in obtaining buy-in for the plan and making decisions between different network scenarios. Some of the most commonly consid- ered metrics are service area and coverage, impact on cost, equity implications, rider- ship, travel time, and transit accessibility. 6. Agencies rely on consultants to conduct a lot of the heavy lifting on planning transit network redesigns. Planning a redesign is a very time intensive effort for which most agencies do not have internal staff capacity for. Consultants are used to provide plan- ning expertise, technical expertise for data analysis and market assessment, and strategic communications. The consultants often conduct the majority of the planning work for agencies but do so in close coordination with agency staff and with significant input from stake holders and the public. Service Design Elements 7. Network redesigns were seen as an opportunity to introduce new service philoso- phies, performance standards, and/or design standards. In many cases it was an opportunity to create or focus on a high frequency/priority bus network. Agencies also were able to redefine â and better enforce â their service standards and design guidelines as part of opening up the entire network for changes. (The definition of a high fre- quency network varies among agencies but is generally defined as one with a frequency better than 15 minutes, with some smaller agencies aiming for 20 minutes. Priority bus refers to a series of priority treatments, such as limited stops, transit signal priority [TSP], queue jumps, and/or bus only lanes to speed up the travel time of the buses.) 8. The majority of agencies planning or implementing bus network redesigns combine capital improvements with the operating changes to improve and leverage changes
4 Comprehensive Bus Network Redesigns to the network structure. In many cases these investments tie in with the agenciesâ objectives of improving efficiency by providing priority for buses and with customer needs by providing improved passenger amenities. Capital improvements may also relate to new needs that are necessitated by the new network structure, such as an increase in walk distances to routes requiring investments in pedestrian infrastructure. In some cases, plans for capital improvements came later in the process to support the operational recommendations, and in others the bus network redesign grew out of wider reaching agency capital plans. Internal Agency Impacts 9. There are many ancillary benefits of conducting system redesigns for agencies. This includes the reduction of split shifts with more all-day frequency and improved commu- nications between departments as the whole agency comes together to plan and imple- ment such a wide-reaching program. In the course of conducting redesigns, agencies find that they end up making policy changes that are long overdue, such as changes to operations practice, organizational structure, fare policy, and rebranding. 10. Keeping internal communications channels open and gaining buy-in from all parts of the agency is a key component to plan adoption and smooth implementation. Involving, in a truly meaningful way, the bus operations departments â especially bus operators and unions â provides key input to the planning process from those on the front lines, and results in support during public education and rollout of the redesign. Outreach and Education 11. A redesign âchampionâ who can advocate for the project with the public, funding partners, and other partners required for implementation can be the difference between a plan that gets implemented and one that lies dormant. Agencies with a strong, respected leader as the redesign champion found it easier to move the redesign process along and garner support. 12. Engaging the public at project inception and during network planning was extremely useful for agencies to gain qualitative input on service performance and poten- tial recommendations to supplement the data analysis and gain public trust. Early engagement of the public can help reduce â but certainly will not eliminate â nega- tive perceptions and beliefs within the community that the plan will not improve their transit service. Working with the public throughout the service area and with all types and demographics of riders helps them feel they are a part of the process and not an afterthought. In fact, one agency that failed to include the public during the planning process was unable to implement the redesign because of the publicâs lack of support and a feeling like the changes were being forced on them. 13. Involving boards and other key decisionmakers up front is needed to help the agency as they deal with challenges to the plan or its recommendations. If the board and other elected officials are not invested in the plan and its objectives, they can get in the way of fully realizing the results; lack of buy-in to the service concept and plan goals can result in the undermining of recommendations that are in line with the plan, such as reducing service in low-productivity areas. 14. Extensive public education is needed prior to, during, and immediately after launch. Agencies that have implemented their redesigns â either all at once or in phases â have found that extensive public information campaigns are necessary to make the most people aware of the changes so that no one is surprised or confused. When agencies do not involve the public early or often enough, riders frequently feel like the new network is being forced on them.