National Academies Press: OpenBook

Fast-Tracked: A Tactical Transit Study (2019)

Chapter: Introduction

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Page 11
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." 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 11
Page 12
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Fast-Tracked: A Tactical Transit Study. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25571.
×
Page 12
Page 13
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Fast-Tracked: A Tactical Transit Study. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25571.
×
Page 13
Page 14
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." 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 14

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1 INTRODUCTION

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. Municipal agencies and other entities are not only 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 comprised 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 typical capital project; under $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 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 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

AARON PALEY, COURTESY OF LA MÁSGO AVE 26 7 WHY THIS DOCUMENT? A component of what has made Tactical Urbanism, or the Quick-Build methodology, flourish is the idea that anyone can do it. Even consultants who coach groups, citizens, and entities in the methodology do so with the intention of building capacity, so that the process lives on and is applied to other projects by that same entity in the future. With publications like the Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Materials & Design (Street Plans, 2016), and Quick Builds for Better Streets: A New Project Delivery Model for U.S. Cities (People for Bikes, 2016), more people than ever are using the Quick-Build methodology as a way of testing and accelerating street and public space projects. However, no similar publication for Tactical Transit projects currently exists. Tactical Transit projects involve different challenges from those found in a street or open space project. Transit infrastructure is often the most costly transportation infrastructure type, while departments that own streets and infrastructure are often different from transit operators. Furthermore, there are often more unique physical constraints to work within (like fixed streetcar tracks). These challenges pose unique questions with regard to Tactical Transit projects. When it comes to coordinating a new service, who does what? How is funding identified? How are materials procured? How is the public involved? This document seeks to answer these questions and more. This report is just the beginning; a first look into the pioneers who, within the last 5-6 years (most frequently within the last three years) have adopted the Quick-Build methodology to tackle issues of surface transit (bus and streetcar), and a glimpse into where this application currently stands, and where it could go. If we’ve learned anything from some of the more newsworthy examples of the methodology, it’s that change can happen fast. From using plastic lawn chairs in 2009, to an interim design plaza in 2010, to a permanent car-less pedestrian plaza in 2015, examples like Times Square remind us that we can only begin to imagine how the Quick-Build methodology could impact surface transit in the near future.

HOW TO USE IT This report presents the results of interviews and other investigation that provide insight into how local and regional governments, transit agencies, and other organizations have implemented surface transit Quick-Build projects. The 20 projects explored are organized into three categories in the Findings section of this report, based on each project’s intended goal/outcome. 1. Speed + Reliability: Projects that addressed issues of bus travel times, improved headways, and improved boarding times/reduced dwell times, etc. 2. Access + Safety: Projects that enhanced multi-modal and/or ADA accessibility to surface transit, had separate distinct elements that addressed this, or produced desirable outcomes like increased ridership, decreased crash incidents, increased bike volumes, etc. 3. Rider Experience: Projects that addressed rider comfort, created a sense of place around accessing transit, or mobilized communities in support of transit. A few projects may appear in more than one category if they had multiple elements or tested various types of infrastructure. Within each category, those projects’ findings are summarized according to a few aspects of each project that were deemed most insightful for the intended purpose of this document (Project Impetus, Internal Process + Partnerships, Procurement + Implementation, and Triumphs + Lessons Learned). The Findings section also presents a series of “comparables” across the different types of projects, and is followed by the Project Summaries (based on the interview protocol). Keep an eye out for projects that the research team found particularly noteworthy, referred to as “Superlatives” and indicated with each Superlative category’s icon in Figure 1: • Complexity: Which was the most complex project, and yielded the most positive outcomes? • Advocacy Initiation: Which project is the strongest example of one that started as an advocacy initiative, and was implemented? • Long-term Outcome: Which project created something long-lasting, other than permanent infrastructure? • Iteration: Which project is the best example of the iterative Quick-Build process? • Positive Outcome: Which project had the most positive speed and reliability outcome? Following the Findings section, the Spotlight: Advocacy + Funding section presents a few examples of transit advocacy groups and funding programs that have executed their own small-scale Quick-Build projects, or contributed to one of the Quick-Build projects in Figure 1. These entities were discovered first for their own projects, or contributions to the others featured in this report, and the research team felt their stories could be shared separately as examples of ways cities and transit agencies could harness the power of their communities, or seek resources for the funding of region- and network-wide transit improvements projects. It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of all transit advocacy and funding entities, but rather those that were discovered either through their own physical Quick-Build projects, or for their relation to those included in this report. See the Terms Sheet at the end of the report for clarification on how the research team defines the commonly-used words and transit tools. For example, where used, the term “demonstration project” specifies a project duration of several days, whereas “pilot project” specifies a project duration of several weeks, to months, to even years! MARTA ARMY 8

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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 pre-publication draft of Transit Cooperative Research Program (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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