National Academies Press: OpenBook

Fast-Tracked: A Tactical Transit Study (2019)

Chapter: Tactical Transit

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Suggested Citation:"Tactical Transit." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Fast-Tracked: A Tactical Transit Study. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25571.
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Page 6

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6 TACTICAL TRANSIT Cities all over North America are using the Quick-Build methodology, based on Tactical Urbanism, to expand transit options, improve existing service, and increase ridership. Tactical Transit projects, operational and physical Quick-Build projects that uniquely focus on transit, have evolved as a way for municipal governments to improve the way they respond to rider needs and increased demand for service. Not only are municipal agencies and other entities recognizing the benefits of the iterative methodology, but they are also prioritizing it as a legitimate form of project delivery as line items in their budgets, as teams composed of internal leadership, and as separate and streamlined permitting processes. More and more we observe the phasing out of the “pop-up” and the introduction of less-stringent regulations that allow for flexibility in testing projects to arrive at more informed and cost-efficient long-term projects. A project can be considered a Tactical Transit project if it: • Is implemented on a much faster timeline than typical capital projects (within 1-2 years); • Uses impermanent or low-cost materials; • Is done with a much smaller budget than a typical capital project (usually less than $100,000); • Seeks to iterate upon the design of infrastructure; • Is short in duration, but part of a larger or longer-term effort; • Is used to accelerate implementation of transportation infrastructure; or • All of the above. Perhaps the most salient quality of the Quick-Build methodology is that it is intended as a learning experience. Regardless of what makes it “quick,” a project that adheres to at least one of the above criteria is sure to break down silos, encourage innovation, deliver public benefits, and bridge the gap between governmental entities and citizens. At a time of increased competition for funding public transit, Tactical Transit projects are not only accelerating the delivery of transit projects, but also helping create a paradigm shift toward safer, more efficient design and use of our streets. “Let’s not hire a consultant to tell us what we already know, let’s just do this.” Senior Planner, Metro Transit

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As transit agencies, local governments, and citizens look for ways to improve existing, and start new, transit service, many of them are turning to the Quick-Build (Tactical Urbanism) methodology. This approach uses inexpensive, temporary materials and short-term tactics as a way of implementing projects in the short-term, while longer-term planning takes place.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Research Report 207: Fast-Tracked: A Tactical Transit Study documents the current state of the practice with regard to what are called Tactical Transit projects, specifically for surface transit (bus and streetcar). These are both physical and operational strategies that improve the delivery of surface transit projects using this methodology. Tactical Transit projects, operational and physical Quick-Build projects that uniquely focus on transit, have evolved as a way for municipal governments to improve the way they respond to rider needs and increased demand for service.

The report highlights Tactical Transit projects happening in cities across North America and how transit agencies and other entities are using innovative methods to improve transit speed, access, and ridership at a fraction of both the cost and time of conventional projects.

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