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58 6.1 Introduction This chapter provides information regarding Step 6 of a reliability improvement program: iden- tifying reliability treatments. It first presents the four different categories of reliability improve- ment treatments. It then presents an overview of the many treatments to address unreliability identified through the literature review, the survey of transit agencies, and the detailed case studies and presents a summary of common treatments. (Specific treatments are described in greater detail in Chapter 7.) This chapter concludes with a discussion of selecting reliability improvement treatments based on the understanding of the specific causes of unreliability that were discussed in Chapter 5. 6.2 Types of Reliability Improvement Treatments Treatments for improving bus service reliability can be divided into four categories: operational, physical, technological, and policy-related. Operational treatments are tactical changes in the service plan that allow the transit agency to respond more effectively to customersâ expectations. Physical treatments can help improve service delivery through capital or infrastructure improve- ments. Technological treatments leverage emerging technologies to support service delivery and, thus, reliability and its perception. Finally, policy treatments can help to improve operational effi- ciency by changing the behavior of transit customers. â¢ Operational Treatments â Operational treatments change transit operations in time and space to improve operating efficiency. Transit agencies can implement operational treatments at the system, route, trip, or stop level through service planning and real-time control. Operational bus reliability improvement treatments include those relating to the routing, scheduling, and control of bus service. Furthermore, practices related to bus operators, stopping, maintenance, and boarding are included. Operational treatments can also include improved coordination with jurisdictions responsible for maintaining the infrastructure to mitigate construction impacts and coordination with traffic and parking enforcement agencies to ensure that regula- tions are enforced. â¢ Physical Treatments â Physical treatments are those that derive operational efficiencies from altering infrastructure and vehicles. These efforts are usually the product of collaboration between the transit agency and the jurisdictions responsible for owning and maintaining the infrastructure. Physical bus-reliability treatments include enhancements to the running way used by buses, such as exclusive lanes or a dedicated transitway. They can also include changes to bus stop locations and configurations. Changes to the buses themselves are also included in this category. â¢ Technological Treatments â Technological treatments leverage new or emerging techno- logies to improve reliability or perceived reliability. Technological treatments can also be C H A P T E R 6 Reliability Improvement Tools
Reliability Improvement Tools 59 operational, physical, or perceptive. Technological treatments would include developing a more sophisticated operations control center built around real-time monitoring technology as well as the use of real-time data to make changes to service in real time. Innovative fare-payment systems that reduce dwell time can enhance reliability, as can TSP at inter- sections where buses can experience varying delays that can affect reliability. Better use of technology can improve customer communications and thus customersâ perception of reliability. â¢ Policy Treatments â Policy treatments are guidelines or rules of behavior for customers on the transit system. These rules are determined by the transit agency and are enforced by the bus operator and other agency personnel. These rules can have an impact on operating effi- ciencies and, therefore, reliability. Policies can affect riders directly, such as regarding how and when fares are paid, but can also affect more behind-the-scenes operations, such as through maintenance policies and procedures. 6.3 Common Reliability Improvement Treatments The literature review identified more than 100 different treatments that had been cited as contributing to improvements in reliability. Figure 6.1 shows the 20 most referenced reliability improvement treatments found in the literature search. While the most-cited treatments were implementing TSP (a technological treatment) and exclusive transit rights-of-way (a physical treatment), the next most-cited treatments were almost entirely operational in nature. Transit agencies responding to the survey reported attempting a mix of reliability treatments markedly different from those discussed in the literature. Figure 6.2 shows the service reliability improvement treatments reported by survey respondents (showing both the total number of agencies implementing the treatment and the number indicating that the treatment was 32 31 16 14 12 10 10 8 7 7 7 6 6 6 6 5 5 5 5 4 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 Transit signal priority Exclusive right-of-way Schedule adjustments Holding Control strategies Real-time bus arrival information Route adjustments Driver training Smartcard payment Stop consolidation Stop-skipping Automated vehicle location systems Limited-stop service Low-floor buses Queue jump lanes All-door boarding Fleet maintenance and periodic replacement Intelligent transportation systems Off-board fare collection Driver incentives Im pr ov em en t S tr at eg y Figure 6.1. The 20 most referenced treatments from the literature review.
60 Minutes Matter: A Bus Transit Service Reliability Guidebook 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Adding Timepoints Relaxed Unrealistic On-Time Definition Skip Stop Services Implementing On-Bus Vehicle Diagnostic Systems Accepting Some Fare Evasion Lowered Reliability Goal During Certain Special Events Pay-On-Exit Fare Collection Added New/Changed Measures Changed Definition of On-Time Reducing Number of Route Variations Optimizing Signal Timing Bus Shoulder Running Deploy Run-As-Directed Buses Separate Turn Lane and/or Signal Yield to Bus Law Retrain Drivers with Poor Reliability Performance Transit Signal Priority Reliability Reports and/or Agency Scorecards Ad Hoc Service Changes Eliminating Timepoints Monitoring Driver Performance/Fatigue Curb Extensions Real-Time Dispatch for Timed Transfers Added Layover Facilities Parking Restrictions Reconfigured Bus Terminals Shortening Route Length Stop Relocation Exclusive Bus Lanes Expanded Terminal Capacity Improved Bus Design Semi-Exclusive Bus Lanes Route Realignment Expanded Stop Capacity Queue Jumps Off-Board Fare Collection/All-Door Boarding Stop Consolidation Lengthening Stops Stop Amenities Real-Time Arrival Information Schedule Changes Outreach to Customers Successfully Implemented Not Successful, Mixed Success, or Unknown Figure 6.2. Reported treatments implemented by survey respondents. successful). The clear majority of the most often reported treatments would be categorized as physical (although one of the most reported treatments was schedule changes, an operational treatment). Many of the most widely implemented treatments, however, were not those reported to be the most successful. Figure 6.3 shows the treatments implemented with agency-reported success rates of at least 50 percent. Agencies found scheduling-related changes (operational treatments such as eliminating time points, run-as-directed buses, and general schedule changes) to be among the most successful. Treatments focusing on operator and vehicle performance improvements were
Reliability Improvement Tools 61 also reported to be successful, as were operational changes to route structure (such as shortening/ realigning routes and consolidating stops). From the 10 case study agencies, several common themes emerged regarding treatments employed to improve reliability. These agencies generally assigned supervisors to monitor routes with reliability problems, and the supervisors made real-time service adjustments and suggested schedule changes to the planning and scheduling departments. Most had standby buses (also known as run-as-directed or gap buses) available so that supervisors could insert them into routes with large gaps in service. Most conducted running-time analyses and made periodic adjustments to running times and schedules for routes with poor reliability. Stop consolidation had been employed at three agencies, three had instituted TSP, and two had added queue jumps. Neverthe- less, the focus appeared to be largely on operational treatments at these agencies as well. Survey respondents and case study agencies appeared to have had the most success with opera- tional treatments, despite survey respondents attempting many physical treatments. This may be because agencies are most familiar with operational treatments and have been employing these tactics for years. Many physical and policy treatments, and certainly many technological treat- ments, may be less familiar and, as evidenced through the literature review, have less documenta- tion regarding success rates and best practices. While the survey did not gather detailed information on the relative success, or reasons for success or failure, of the various treatments, some respondents provided comments on the limits to success of some treatments, particularly bus priority treatments such as bus lanes and signal priority. Some of the problems encountered included resistance to bus priority from city traffic engineers, interference from right turning vehicles and general lack of enforcement of bus lanes, the lack of centralized traffic management systems, and the lack of good pretreatment data from which to assess improvement. A couple of respondents reported that TSP was more successful at managing reliability when it was restricted to late buses only. The industry could benefit from more extensive and more widely distributed documen- tation of success rates and best practices, particularly for physical, policy, and technological treatments. Agencies are encouraged to analyze the impact of any treatments implemented on the basic reliability measures discussed in Chapter 4, making sure to collect good pretreat- ment as well as post-treatment data. Careful documentation of costs (capital costs and changes in operating costs) is also needed, as is detailed documentation of partner relationships with 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Deploy Run-As-Directed Buses Retrain Drivers with Poor Reliability Performance Pay-On-Exit Fare Collection Stop Consolidation Route Realignment Shortening Route Length Implementing On-Bus Vehicle Diagnostic Systems Schedule Changes Monitoring Driver Performance/Fatigue Eliminating Timepoints Successfully Implemented Not Successful, Mixed Success, or Unknown Figure 6.3. The 10 most successful treatments implemented by survey respondents.
62 Minutes Matter: A Bus Transit Service Reliability Guidebook lessons learned and best practices coordinating with traffic agencies and other parties. Addi- tional research assembling the results of these studies and assessing their effectiveness could then be disseminated to enable additional agencies to more effectively select treatments to address unreliability. 6.4 Overview of Reliability Improvement Treatments Treatments falling into each of the four categories are listed in Table 6.1. Although some treat- ments could be grouped into several different categories, treatments are listed in the category that is closest to the customer experience of the treatment. For example, although display of real-time information can be both technological and physical, the treatment is classified as technological because customers consider its benefits as a new technology. The table summarizes the causes of reliability addressed and the trade-offs associated with each treatment. A detailed discussion of each individual treatment is included in Chapter 7. 6.5 Impacts of Reliability Improvement Treatments The treatments for improving bus service reliability vary greatly in terms of their likely impact on the different causes of unreliability, the associated trade-offs regarding bus operations and customer service, their expected effectiveness, their cost to the agency and its partners, and their overall ease of implementation. Each of the treatments available to address poor reliability addresses a specific cause, or causes, of unreliability, and, therefore, identification of the most appropriate treatment can be enhanced by more detailed analysis, as discussed in Chapter 5. As noted in that discussion, there are numerous factors that can result in non-operation of service, early or late trips, and inconsistent travel and transfer times. The treatments vary in terms of ease of implementation. A strategy such as a public relations campaign to encourage customers to move toward the rear of the bus involves little effort or cost and can be implemented quickly. Such actions could be implemented immediately when a problem is identified. Some techniques to improve service control, and thus reliability, require a bit more lead time but can be implemented administratively by the transit agency in a matter of weeks, while others may require extensive negotiations with labor, or a robust public engagement process. Some actions, such as replacing a fleet of buses or building dedicated transitways, involve significant capital costs. Investments of this size must be made from time to time and obviously require careful deliberation. In some cases, an argument that the investment will help to improve reliability can help to make the case for the expenditures. 6.6 Selection of Improvement Treatments Ideally, the agency will attempt to identify specific causes of unreliability and select actions that will be most effective for those specific causes. Such an approach requires a detailed assess- ment of reliability that goes beyond the direct measurement of reliability discussed in Chapter 4. The process for conducting such an assessment was the subject of Chapter 5. That process can result in the identification of specific causes such as those that were listed in Table 5.2. While there has been little research linking the effectiveness of specific reliability treatments to specific causes of unreliability, the suitability of each treatment to address specific causes can be assessed intuitively.
Reliability Improvement Tools 63 Improvement Treatments Causes of Unreliability Addressed Treatment Trade- Offs Expected Effect Capital Cost Operating Cost Ease of Implementation Operational Treatments Enhanced route operational control Excessive running time, travel time variability Uneven service with short turns High â â Easy Introduce standby buses Non-operation, early/late start Higher scheduled frequency Moderate â $ Easy Introduce scheduled short turns Excessive running time, travel time variability Less service on outer parts of the route High â â Easy, but local concerns will arise Limited-stop service Excessive running time Service reduced at local stops Moderate â $, if an overlay Easy Bus stop consolidation Excessive running time, travel time variability Stop, spacing, customer access Low â â Easy, but local concerns will arise Right-sizing bus stops Excessive dwell time, travel time variability Difficult to get curb space downtown Medium â â Easy, but local concerns will arise Route network adjustments Excessive running time, travel time variability Taking service away from customers High - $ Easy, with robust planning support Divide very long routes Travel time variability, uneven route boarding Additional transfers for some customers High â $ Medium, public engagement Schedule and headway optimization On-time performance, travel time variability Frequency changes for some customers Highest â $ Easy Coordinate schedules at transfer points Inconsistent transfer times Time added to schedules Medium â $$ Easy, with robust scheduling effort Bus operator training, incentives and monitoring Non-operation, early/late start Training costs High â $ Medium, needs support of labor Route contingency plans Non-operation, weather, special events How to effectively inform customers Medium â $ Medium, if done in a meaningful way Increase fleet size Frequency of service Big capital/operating cost increases High $$$$ $$ Difficult Employ more full-time bus operators Non-operation, early/late start Operating cost increases Low â $$$ Easy, but costly Coordinate with roadway agencies to anticipate construction impacts Excessive running time, on-time performance, travel time variability Increased administrative coordination Low â $ Easy/Medium Coordinate with traffic and parking enforcement Excessive running time, on-time performance, travel time variability Increased administrative coordination Medium â $ Medium Physical Treatments Dedicated transitways and bus lanes Excessive running time, travel time variability High cost, highway agency opposition High $$$$$ $$ highway agency Medium-difficult Queue-jump lanes Excessive running time, travel time variability Could require property takings Medium $$ _ Medium Level boarding and low- floor buses Variable dwell time Added capital cost, lower bus capacity Medium $$$$ â Easy (except for cost) Articulated buses Excessive running time, travel time variability Added capital cost for specialized buses Low/possibility negative $$$$ $$ Medium, training is required Right-sized terminals and layovers Travel time variability early/late start Neighborhood opposition Medium $ _ Medium Far-side stop placement Variable dwell time Very minor cost High for each stop $ â Easy, with some nimby issues Table 6.1. Relationship of reliability measures to elements of unreliability. (continued on next page)
64 Minutes Matter: A Bus Transit Service Reliability Guidebook Table 6.2 through Table 6.6 take the causes from Table 5.2 and match them to the set of possible treatments listed in Table 6.1 and described in detail in Section 7.5. There is one table for each element of unreliability. For each potential cause of unreliability, these tables indicate the treatments that could be used to address that specific cause. These tables can be used to develop a list of possible treatments given specific known causes of unreliability. The tables form the basis of the reliability improvement treatment selection menus in Section 7.3. Regardless of whether a specific cause of unreliability has been identified or it is simply the case that reliability in general is a concern, an agency must prioritize its list of possible treatments. A prioritization scheme should take into consideration the ease of implementation, the cost of implementation, and the effectiveness in improving reliability. It is interesting that two of the most frequently cited treatments in the literatureâTSP and exclusive rights-of-wayâare not under the direct control of the transit agency but require both capital and operating expenses for host municipalities and are by no means easy to implement. Many of the treatments that were cited most often in the agency survey and in the case studies, however, were lower in cost and easier to implement. While not every cause of unreliability is under the direct control of Improvement Treatments Causes of Unreliability Addressed Treatment Trade- Offs Expected Effect Capital Cost Operating Cost Ease of Implementation Curb extensions at bus stops Variable dwell time Capital cost, highway agency support High for each stop $$ $$ highway agency Medium Coordinate with roadway agencies to incorporate bus-supportive features Excessive running time, travel time variability, variable dwell time Increased involvement in planning stages High $$ $$ Medium Technological Treatments More effective use of bus control center Bus bunching, missed runs, early/late start Training for control center staff High $$$ new center $$ Difficult if new center is needed Traffic signal optimization Variable travel speed None Medium â â Easy w/municipal cooperation Transit signal priority Excessive running time, travel time variability Concurrence from highway agency Medium $ Very low Difficult Real-time information systems Customer information None Medium $$ $ Difficult if none exist Fare innovations for dwell time Dwell time Cost of new fare- collection system High for busy systems $$$ $ Difficult Improved customer communications Customer perceptions None Medium (perceptions only) â $ Medium Policy Treatments Yield-to-bus laws Dwell time None Very low â â Medium, needs legislation Bus-on-shoulder operation Excessive running time, travel time variability Operator training High where there is traffic $$$ â Difficult, must upgrade shoulder Reliability-based fleet maintenance Non-operation, late start Capital/operating costs High $$$ $$$ Difficult Boarding limits Excessive dwell time, excessive running time Bypassing customers at stops Low â â Very easy Public education Excessive dwell time, crowding None Medium â $ Very easy Table 6.1. (Continued).
Reliability Improvement Tools 65 Technology Bus control centers Policy Reliability-based fleet maintenance Treatments Non-Operation O pe ra to ra va ila bi lit y Ve hi cl e av ai la bi lit y Br ea kd ow ns O pe ra tio na l Enhanced route operational control Introduce standby buses Introduce scheduled short turns Increase fleet size Employ more bus operators Table 6.2. Possible treatments for non-operation. Treatments Early/Late Start In su ffi ci en t r ec ov er y tim e O pe ra to rr es tro om b re ak s H ol ds fo r l at e co nn ec tio ns Po or o pe ra tio na l c on tro l M ec ha ni ca l i ss ue O pe ra tio na l Enhanced route operational control Introduce standby buses Introduce scheduled short turns Limited-stop service Bus stop consolidation Route network adjustments Schedule and headway optimization Coordinating schedules at transfer points Operator training, incentives, and monitoring Increase fleet size Ph ys ic al Dedicated transitways and bus lanes Queue-jump lanes Te ch no lo gy Bus control centers Traffic signal optimization Real-time information systems Reliability-based fleet maintenance Table 6.3. Possible treatments for early/late start.
66 Minutes Matter: A Bus Transit Service Reliability Guidebook Treatments Variable Travel Speed In su ffi ci en t/e xc es s sc he du le d tim e To o fe w /to o m an y tim e po in ts O ve rly lo ng ro ut e La ck o f a dh er en ce to ti m e po in ts O pe ra to rs ki ll/ be ha vi or D el ay s m er gi ng in to tr af fic fr om s to ps In ci de nt s, s pe ci al e ve nt s, c on st ru ct io n Tr af fic c on ge st io n Si gn al d el ay W ea th er O pe ra tio na l Enhanced route operational control Introduce standby buses Limited-stop service Bus stop consolidation Right-sizing bus stops Route network adjustments Divide very long bus routes Schedule and headway optimization Operator training, incentives, and monitoring Route contingency plans Increase fleet size Coordinate with roadway agencies to anticipate construction impacts Coordinate with traffic and parking enforcement Ph ys ic al Dedicated transitways and bus lanes Queue-jump lanes Far-side stop placement Curb extensions at bus stops Coordinate with roadway agencies to incorporate bus-supportive features Te ch no lo gy Bus control centers Traffic signal optimization Transit signal priority Real-time information systems Yield-to-bus laws Bus-on-shoulder operationPo lic y Table 6.4. Possible treatments for inconsistent travel speeds. the transit operator, easy-to-implement, low-cost approaches can be employed as an initial step to address unreliability. If data on the potential causes of reliability are unavailable, agencies may wish to simply focus on the easier-to-implement treatments that have been shown to be effective. Nevertheless, agencies should not shy away from treatments that are more difficult to implement and that require cooperation with partner entities since they may be the most effective in addressing some common causes of unreliability. Table 6.7 shows the treatments grouped into four tiers by ease of implementation. The first tier includes treatments in areas that are under an agencyâs direct control, are the easiest and fastest to implement, and involve the lowest capital cost. The second tier consists of administrative actions that are easy to implement but that typically involve increases in operating costs. The third tier involves significant capital expenditures and increased operating costs. These have significant lead times and may require securing federal grants. These actions, however, are still under the
Reliability Improvement Tools 67 Treatments Variable Dwell Times To o m an y st op s/ po or ly lo ca te d st op s Po or tr an sf er c on ne ct io ns U ne ve n lo ad in g du e to v ar ia bl e he ad w ay D em an d in e xc es s of c ap ac ity Va ria bl e pa ss en ge r d em an d Fa re p ay m en t d el ay s Ac ce ss fo r c yc lis ts Ac ce ss fo r m ob ilit y im pa ire d O pe ra tio na l Enhanced route operational control Introduce standby buses Limited-stop service Bus stop consolidation Right-sizing bus stops Schedule and headway optimization Route contingency plans Increase fleet size Ph ys ic al Dedicated transitways and bus lanes Level boarding and low-floor buses Articulated buses Coordinate with roadway agencies to incorporate bus-supportive features Te ch - no lo gy Transit signal priority Fare innovations for dwell time improvements Po lic y Boarding limits Public education Table 6.5. Possible treatments for inconsistent dwell times. Treatments Inconsistent Transfer Times In su ffi ci en t r ec ov er y tim e Po or s ch ed ul e co or di na tio n Po or ro ut e co nn ec tiv ity O pe ra tio na l Introduce scheduled short turns Route network adjustments Schedule and headway optimization Coordinating schedules at transfer points Increase fleet size Table 6.6. Possible treatments for inconsistent transfer times.
68 Minutes Matter: A Bus Transit Service Reliability Guidebook Tier 1 â Treatments Under the Direct Control of the Transit Agency, Easiest and Fastest to Implement, and Lowest Cost â¢ Introduce scheduled short turns â¢ Limited-stop service (by converting existing scheduled trips) â¢ Bus stop consolidation â¢ Coordinating schedules at transfer points â¢ Operator training, incentives, and monitoring â¢ Route contingency plans â¢ Real-time information systems (with an existing AVL system) â¢ Boarding limits â¢ Public education â¢ Coordinate with roadway agencies to anticipate construction impacts â¢ Coordinate with traffic and parking enforcement â¢ Improved customer communications Tier 2 â Administrative Actions That Are Easy to Implement but Typically Involve Increases in Operating Costs â¢ Enhanced route operational control â¢ Introduce standby buses â¢ Route network adjustments â¢ Divide very long bus routes â¢ Schedule and headway optimization â¢ Employ more full-time bus operators â¢ Reliability-based fleet maintenance â¢ Limited-stop service (by adding an overlay service) Tier 3 â Involve Significant Expenditures, Increase Operating Costs, Have Significant Lead Times, and May Require Securing Federal Grants â¢ Increase fleet size â¢ Level boarding and low-floor buses â¢ Articulated buses â¢ Bus control centers â¢ Fare innovations for dwell time improvements â¢ Real-time information systems (if a new AVL system is needed) Tier 4 â Treatments That Require the Concurrence, Assistance, and Financial Participation of Host Municipalities to Achieve Infrastructure Investment or New Policies â¢ Right-sizing bus stops â¢ Dedicated transitways and bus lanes â¢ Queue-jump lanes â¢ Far-side stop placement â¢ Curb extensions at bus stops â¢ Traffic signal optimization â¢ Transit signal priority â¢ Yield-to-bus laws â¢ Bus-on-shoulder operation â¢ Coordinate with roadway agencies to incorporate bus-supportive features Table 6.7. Summary treatments by ease of implementation. control of the transit agency. The final tier includes the hardest group of actions to implementâ those that require the cooperation of, assistance from, and financial participation of host munici- palities. A good working relationship with municipalities and with local and state highway agencies is critical to achieving success with this last group of reliability treatments. These actions may be costly, have long lead times, and require considerable coordination efforts to implement, but they may yet provide the most significant benefits to reliability. Careful execution of these treatments with measurable improvements in reliability can also assist in developing consensus for further improvements elsewhere in the region or for other agencies.