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.
74 in transit service levels following the redesign appear to have little effect on ridership. Additionally, decline in average speed is most likely a product of routes being transitioned to serve denser, more congested areas of the city. Rail ridership trends are overwhelmed by the openings of two light rail lines in 2015, indicated on Figure 48 with an expanded scale to show the dramatic effects of rail openings. These new lines have steadied out at nearly 300% more service than was provided in 2012, however ridership sits only 70% above the 2012 level. FigureÂ 47:Â HoustonÂ METROÂ BusÂ SystemwideÂ TrendsÂ fromÂ 2012Â toÂ 2018Â FigureÂ 48:Â HoustonÂ METROÂ LightÂ RailÂ SystemwideÂ TrendsÂ fromÂ 2012Â toÂ 2018Â While the route alignments and schedules changed between 2013 and 2017, their comparison provides insights on the effect of the network redesign as seen in Figure 49. Only a few of the routes remained similar enough to be able to relate 2013 and 2017 route data with an arrow in the figure. Ridership is calculated as average weekday boardings during the fall period in September, October, November, December, January, and February of 2013 and 2017. Both passenger counts
75 and route frequencies were provided from the transit agency. From 2013 to 2017, bus routes with increased frequency did not increase in passenger boardings per trip. FigureÂ 49:Â HoustonÂ MetroÂ FrequencyÂ andÂ RidershipÂ TrendsÂ inÂ 2013Â andÂ 2017Â On-time performance (OTP) transit data was not available for analysis. METRO defines fixed route bus on-time performance as leaving within the five-minute window after the scheduled departure time. OTP data is calculated based on automatic vehicle location (AVL) software. Future Plans to Encourage Ridership As Houstonâs population grows, Houston METRO plans meet the regionâs transportation needs by expanding its transit network. In January 2017, METRO began developing a new plan, METRONext, for transit services in the Houston/Harris County region with a focus on providing more transportation choices to more people. The goals of METRONext are to improve mobility, enhance connectivity, support vibrant communities, and ensure a return on investment. METRONext will develop a Regional Transit Plan, the Vision Plan, and a Moving Forward Plan. The Vision Plan will identify major capital investments and other improvements needed for METRO to meet the mobility challenges of the next 20 years. The Moving Forward Plan is the first step in implementation and includes major investments such as increased regional express service, extended light rail lines, a new bus rapid transit system and many improvements to the existing bus network including new Park & Rides, Community Connectors, an increase in bus service, and enhanced bus stops to address Universal Accessibility. Future bus rapid transit systems include the Uptown BRT project with frequent transit service from Westpark to the Northwest Transit Center in 2020, and the connecting Inner-Katy BRT project to downtown.
76 Case Study 9 â Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), Pinellas County, FL Background The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) is the operator of bus, commuter bus, and demand response services in the St. Petersburg area. PSTA now operates 34 fixed routes providing 12.4 million passengers trips a year. PSTA was one of the first operator to provide subsidies to TNCs for connecting service to select bus stops in 2016 with their Direct Connect Program. After implementing all phases of Direct Connect in 2018, PSTA is looking to evaluate every bus route in the system, redesign their fixed route system, and implement an express bus rapid transit corridor. Formed in 1984 in the merger of two area transit agencies, the PSTA operates in the greater Tampa-St. Petersburg area. While PSTA serves St. Petersburg and some surrounding areas, a separate transit agency called Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) serves Tampa and points east despite the downtown areas of Tampa and St. Petersburg being no more than 15 miles apart. The two systems began honoring each otherâs fares and allowing free transfers in 2004. The transit agency recently made headlines as the first operator to provide subsidies to TNCs for connecting service to select bus stops. This partnership, which began in 2016, covers the first $5 of an Uber ride to designated bus stops, expanding their service area outside of walking distance. Lyft was added soon after, and in 2018, the number of designated stops doubled to 24. This program, called Direct Connect, was the first to integrate TNCs into a local bus system. The program was implemented in three phases from early 2016 to early 2018 with increasing operational coverage across the greater Tampa-St. Petersburg area. Key Performance Trends Key trends for bus service from 2012 to 2018 are shown in Figure 50 which displays a 12- month rolling average normalized to January 2012 of the unlinked passenger trips (UPT), vehicle revenue miles (VRM), and average speed. Phases 1 and 2 of the TNC partnership start date is indicated on the figures. Phase 3 was fully implemented in April 2018. Bus ridership dropped throughout 2016 and 2017, while service, speed, and on-time performance remained roughly the same. Demand response ridership, which PSTA uses to categorize these TNC trips, is up nearly 10% since late 2016. In addition, the trend of speed dropping rapidly while VRM increases at a similar rate seems to indicate quite a large increase in Vehicle Revenue Hours. This likely corresponds to an increase in the number of âdemand responseâ vehicles on the road at any given time. It appears that while the pilot has grown demand response ridership, buses are not seeing positive results of the pilot. This is perhaps due to the phenomenon of a preference for a one-seat ride. In other words, once passengers are already in the TNC vehicle, they would prefer to take it all the way to their destination than transfer to a bus along the way.
77 FigureÂ 50:Â PSTAÂ BusÂ SystemwideÂ TrendsÂ fromÂ 2012Â toÂ 2018Â While focusing on implementing the Direct Connect Program, frequency of PSTA fixed- routes has not dramatically shifted between 2015 and 2018 as seen in Figure 51, which shows fixed-route ridership and frequencies before and after Direct Connectâs full implementation. Ridership data for Figure 51 and Figure 52 is from average daily automated passenger counter (APC) data averaged monthly over the fall period (October, November, December, February) and frequency data is provided from the transit agency. Average daily ridership has decreased on all but four routes since fall 2015. FigureÂ 51:Â PSTAÂ FrequencyÂ andÂ RidershipÂ TrendsÂ inÂ 2015Â andÂ 2018Â
78 FigureÂ 52:Â PSTAÂ OnâtimeÂ PerformanceÂ andÂ RidershipÂ TrendsÂ inÂ 2015Â andÂ 2018Â PSTA defines on-time performance as 0 minutes early to 4.59 minutes late. This definition was modeled after the American Bus Benchmarking Group (ABBG) standard. On-time performance is collected using HASTUS transit scheduling software and recorded as monthly average on-time performance as seen in Figure 52. On-time performance increased on every bus route between fall 2015 and 2018 but this trend was not associated with an increase in ridership. Future Plans to Encourage Ridership PSTA is working towards increasing transit ridership, making transit more competitive with driving, and building financial stability. Current projects towards their goal of âsafely connecting people and placesâ include: ï· Circulator Study in Downtown St. Petersburg, ï· Bus Rapid Transit, ï· Advantage Pinellas Transit Planning Effort, and ï· New mobile ticketing app and smartcard system. PSTA is currently conducting an analysis of transit circulation within downtown St. Petersburg to identify options for a modified or new network of circulator services. Express Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service will be piloted in St. Petersburgâs Central Avenue corridor from downtown St. Petersburg to the Gulf beaches and open in 2021. Advantage Pinellas is a planning effort to evaluate every bus route in the system. On-board rider surveys and public outreach will result in recommendations for route and mobility service changes. PSTA and HART are currently beta testing âFlamingo Faresâ, a regional mobile ticketing app and smartcard system.
79 Case Study 10 â Spokane Transit Authority, Spokane, WA Background The Spokane Transit Authority (STA) is the sole provider of bus and demand-response service in Spokane County, WA. Public takeover of Spokaneâs bus routes took place in 1968 after years of declining revenues. A public transportation benefit area was established in 1980 to devote sales taxes to transit, and the Spokane Transit Authority was created alongside it. STA serves the cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley, Cheney, Liberty Lake, Airway Heights, Medical Lake, the Town of Millwood, and part of Eastern Washington University. Today, the transit agency operates 36 fixed routes, most of which run through a downtown transit center. Five routes provide frequent, fifteen- minute or less service all day. In addition to the fixed-route bus service, STA provides commuter express routes, paratransit, and vanpool services. During the early 2000s, fixed route bus service was expanded and the region experienced ridership growth as a result. Due to the recession, revenue from sales tax was lost and STA was forced to cut and restructure fixed route service frequency to concentrate on key routes. Productivity (as defined as riders per revenue mile) and ridership increased until 2015 following this consolidation and the implementation of a university pass program. By partnering with universities and local community colleges, the typical rider has shifted to a slightly younger demographic. FigureÂ 53:Â SpokaneÂ TransitÂ AuthorityÂ BusÂ SystemwideÂ TrendsÂ fromÂ 2012Â toÂ 2018Â Key Performance Trends Key performance trends of STA from 2012 to 2018 are shown in Figure 53 which displays a 12-month rolling average normalized to January 2012 of the unlinked passenger trips (UPT), vehicle revenue miles (VRM), on-time performance (OTP), and average speed. Despite some growth early in the decade, transit ridership in Spokane dropped by nearly 10% between 2015 and 2017 because of the movement of business and construction delays. During this period, Spokane introduced real-time information and university bus pass programs. On-time performance tracks
80 similarly to ridership, gradually decreasing beginning in mid-2015. VRM and average speed have remained fairly constant until the end of 2017 when ridership trends appear to be pointing upward, perhaps due to the transit agencyâs most recent strategic plan to increase service and ridership. Ballot measures increasing sales tax, passed in 2016 and 2018, have resulted in more funding and a focus on high performance transit. Service changes implemented in 2017 included extending Saturday night service, increasing weekend service, providing new routes, and improving bus stop facilities. The new routes and increased frequencies on some routes can be seen in Figure 54 and Figure 55 which compare transit ridership data, frequency, and on-time performance in 2016, before implementation, and 2018, after implementation. Ridership data is the average weekday farebox data during the fall period in September, October, November, December of 2016 and 2018. Stop and frequency data is from the transit agencyâs General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). On-time performance data has been collected with a CAD/AVL system since 2014. The fixed route service frequency and ridership trends associated with the 2017 shift in service are displayed in Figure 54. Although the increased frequency has resulted in more riders, transit ridership per trip has decreased so route productivities have declined. FigureÂ 54:Â SpokaneÂ TransitÂ FrequencyÂ andÂ RidershipÂ TrendsÂ inÂ 2016Â andÂ 2018Â On-time performance and transit ridership trends during the 2016 and 2018 period are also displayed in Figure 55. STA is committed to on-time performance and maintains a very high
81 systemwide standard. The 2017 service change included stop improvements associated with lower dwell times and higher on-time performance. Although on-time performance is highly valued by customers, there was no clear trend between on-time performance and ridership. FigureÂ 55:Â SpokaneÂ TransitÂ OnâtimeÂ PerformanceÂ andÂ RidershipÂ TrendsÂ inÂ 2016Â andÂ 2018Â Future Plans to Encourage Ridership The local community has recently invested in transit by voting to increase sales tax funding in 2016 and 2018, developing college bus pass programs, and providing bus passes to everyone who works or lives in a new urban neighborhood development. Future key projects include the addition of a six-mile bus rapid transit (BRT) route, Central City Line, which will connect Spokaneâs downtown and colleges and improve service, speed, and reliability in 2021 with near- level platforms, off-board ticketing, and transit signal priority. There are also plans to extend the transit service area of STA to the nearby Coeur dâAlene metropolitan area in 2025. Summary Nearly every transit agency investigated in the case studies had ridership increases through 2015 followed by steady decreases in ridership. The exceptions to this are Houston, TX, Portland, ME, and Seattle, WA.
82 ï· In Houston, transit ridership has remained relatively constant without the declines seen by most transit agencies, but this is amongst substantial increases in service that came with the network redesign. ï· In Portland, transit service has been increased, especially on routes that serve schools and universities, but these strategic improvements have really paid off as ridership has increased even more than the service. ï· In Seattle, transit service has also increased, but ridership has increased even more. Ridership on both bus and streetcar have increased steadily over time with substantial investments in dedicated right-of-way and rapid transit services as well as a focus on speed and reliability. In all other cases, among the transit agencies where ridership declined, the amount of service provided has remained relatively similar over this time or has only been slightly increased. In every transit agency reviewed, average speeds have decreased or have remained the same, indicating that more vehicles are frequently needed to offer the same or degraded service. Some transit agencies have fought hard to keep average speeds up using strategic improvements such as signal priority or improvements to boarding. Generally, on-time performance has been improving, although it is clearly not causing transit ridership to increase. If anything, the trend appears that on-time performance is easier to maintain as ridership has decreased. With regard to rail ridership, the results are more mixed. In some transit agencies, such as Maryland Transit Authorityâs light rail, ridership decreased and in others, such as Bostonâs heavy rail, ridership remained steady. Minneapolis and Houston had substantial increases in ridership on light rail, but only with even greater increases in service, including the opening of new lines. Commuter rail seems to be fairing better across the country and the transit agencies among the case studies are no different. Whatever is impacting bus transit ridership across the country does not have the same impact on the dedicated right-of-way longer distance commuter rail services. However, all of the transit agencies interviewed are working hard to retain their riders. Transit agencies such as Houston and Baltimore are restructuring their bus service in some way including network redesigns and simplification of routes and information. Oftentimes, such as in Boston, this is paired with substantial analysis, making use of new data and analytics tools. Pinellas County has implemented a substantial partnership with the TNCs. Multiple transit agencies are updating their rolling stock, especially to obtain lower emitting and faster boarding vehicles. Newer technology in fare media and real-time information is being considered or has been adopted by many of the transit agencies. Transit agencies such as Portland and Spokane are doing substantial work to attract high school and college students as well as strategic partnership with new developments. Finally, there is a concerted effort to use dedicated right-of-way such as BRT and