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1 Transit Agency Relationships and Initiatives to Improve Bus Stops and Pedestrian Access Transit agencies with fixed-route bus service have a relationship with the built envi- ronment that provides access for riders to travel to the bus stop and wait comfortably for the bus to arrive. The quality of pedestrian pathways for reaching the bus stop and the amenities at the bus stop produce measurable differences in transit ridership and customer satisfaction with the transit agency. In an ideal funding and jurisdictional environment, transit agencies would construct full amenities at bus stops and also would complete connected sidewalk networks to reach the stops. However, with limitations in the funding available for capital improvementsâas well as right-of-way (ROW) control for roadways and adjacent sidewalks that lies in the hands of other government entities or private property ownersâtransit agencies must make informed decisions on bus stop and pedestrian pathway improvements to provide the highest benefits for agency goals and, over time, to systematically improve all transit stops in the system. This synthesis report summarizes the current state of practice for bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improvement programs and processes in place at transit agencies and other public organizations committed to public transportation. The report presents available information on existing programs, considerations and methods for prioritizing improve- ments, program leadership and funding, relationships and agreements with external public and private entities, and unique transit agency practices in bus stop improvements that can serve as examples for others to integrate into their own organizations. The report includes documented scoring systems for prioritizing bus stop needs and for measuring the outcomes and resulting benefits of improvements at given agencies. The report also includes examples of collaboration through either formal agreements or informal relation- ships between local agencies, which serve as a mechanism for broadening the impacts of projects to improve the fixed-route bus infrastructure. This report focuses particularly on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility of bus stops, with respect to both the ADA regulations that transit agencies must follow in making improvements and the options for transit agencies in prioritizing improvements for older stops to achieve ADA compliance. Conditions such as broken sidewalks, pathway obstructions, and lack of seating at bus stops can make fixed-route bus service inaccessible for persons with disabilities, negatively affecting fixed-route ridership and transit agency operating costs. Improving both bus stops and connecting pathways to the required ADA levels not only allows additional people to access fixed-route bus service but also increases the ease of use for all riders. The synthesis report study was conducted in three phases: (1) a literature review of existing research on bus stop and connecting pathway infrastructure and on transit agency improvement programs, (2) an online survey targeting transit agencies with identified S U M M A R Y
2 Transit Agency Relationships and Initiatives to Improve Bus Stops and Pedestrian Access examples of relevant programs, and (3) case examples of transit agencies with particular practices of interest. The survey questions were designed to collect broad information about improvement programs, including scope, elements included, tools and processes, agreements with local entities, communication with stakeholders, accessibility and equity considerations, funding for improvements, and measured outcomes. After the survey, the study team selected as case examples five agencies with unique or best practices based on the survey responses. One case example was augmented to a regional scope to include multiple transportation agencies in the area with different processes and initiatives. The literature review found that most improvement programs at transit agencies are driven by motivations to increase ridership and customer satisfaction, with studies indi- cating that improved bus stops and pedestrian pathways are related to higher transit use. ROW ownership presents a consistent challenge when making improvements, both for other government entities and for private property owners. Information was limited on examples of formal agreements or processes to encourage transit agency coordination with external parties with respect to bus stops and sidewalks. Increasing the physical accessi- bility of bus stops is a common goal for infrastructure improvements, but the challenges posed by improvement costs, limited space, and vast sidewalk networks can hinder planning and budgeting efforts. The literature review included some examples of bus stop prioritiza- tion systems beyond fixed-route ridership and cost-benefit measurements of improvement results, but the review did not document these as widespread practices in improvement programs at transit agencies. To learn more about transit agency and government practices related to bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improvements, the study team developed a survey questionnaire that was emailed to 65 transit agencies and other local and regional government organi- zations. The survey respondents provided information on lessons learned from their improvement programs, including aspects of project management, design standardization, relationships with contractors, coordination with regional entities, and incorporation of public input. The respondents recognized that the responsibility for accessible pathways to transit is shared by their agencies and other local governments, necessitating coordination and relationships to holistically plan, fund, and implement infrastructure improvements. In addition, the respondents described their practices on the inventory data collection, tracking of bus stop conditions, and ground-level observations required to understand the needs of each individual stop and its users and to maintain the quality of the amenities and connecting pathways. Other findings from the survey included the following: â¢ Improving bus stop accessibility represents the most desired outcome for transit agency programs while other common goals were improving customer support, enhancing the safety and security of customers, and responding equitably to community requests. â¢ Planning departments most commonly serve as program leads; capital improvement departments and project management offices are leads less frequently. â¢ Landing pads are the one element included in the majority of improvement programs for all bus stops in the system, but other elements such as shelters and sidewalks are less frequently a part of improvements for all bus stops. â¢ Bus stop inventory data are used by nearly all transit agencies for tracking bus stop conditions and needs. Other common datasets considered are fixed-route ridership, customer home locations, and proximate community services. Fixed-route ridership is the most important factor for the prioritization of improvements while customer complaints are also often considered. â¢ Out of 46 respondents to the question on agreements concerning improvements, 29 cited one or more agreements related to bus stop or pathway improvements. Key
Summary 3 examples of agreement types included master multiple use agreements with state DOTs and counties, funding for transit infrastructure or interlocal agreements with cities, and shelter match agreements with private businesses. â¢ Within agreements, transit agencies usually hold responsibility for bus shelters and benches while partners take responsibility for improvements in sidewalks and pathways, crossings, and curb ramps. â¢ Limited right-of-way constitutes the key issue in working with developers and including transit agency interests in developments and construction, followed by the existing slope of sidewalks and pathways requiring extensive construction or reconstruction. â¢ Most agencies coordinate bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improvement projects to coincide with, or piggyback on, other infrastructure projects. Some agencies also coordinate bus stop and pathway improvements with utility and private development projects. â¢ Nearly all agencies act on feedback about bus stops from community organizations focused on persons with disabilities and seniors, and 72% of the survey respondents report having an ADA transition plan that considers bus stops and pedestrian infrastructure. The following agencies participated in the case example component of the report: â¢ Athens-Clarke County Transit (Athens, GA) â¢ Regional Transportation Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, and Pace (Chicago, IL, region) â¢ San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (San Francisco, CA) â¢ Utah Transit Authority (Salt Lake City, UT) â¢ VIA Metropolitan Transit (San Antonio, TX) These agencies provided several lessons learned from their experience with infrastruc- ture improvement programs and agreements with local partners. Some of the key practices resulting from these lessons learned include the following: â¢ Involving bus stop improvements in larger corridor (or other area-wide) projects ties transit needs into city projects. This practice saves transit agency funds in terms of total capital costs and helps in coordination with other local entities for ease of implementation. â¢ Packaging small improvement projects together, either within a transit system or spread across different communities, is an innovative way to support creating larger projects with better funding opportunities for smaller and low-income communities. â¢ Building relationships and proactively coordinating with other local public entities are key to including transit issues in the local conversation and integrating transit improve- ments as a part of new developments. â¢ Index processes and prioritization systems provide a consistent method for decision making and a justification for placing improvements at specific locations based on the goals of the agency program. â¢ Communication with local planning departments helps ensure that jurisdictions served by the transit agency incorporate needed bus stop improvements into their planning processes. â¢ Connections among schedule, ridership, and amenities data support decision making on infrastructure improvements, and ongoing maintenance of database information offers an up-to-date understanding of bus stop needs. â¢ Standards in amenity designs promote consistency in the installation, maintenance, and useful life of bus stop and pathway features. â¢ Improvement prioritization based only on high ridership figures can limit the equity of infrastructure investments in low-income communities; further proactive actions are needed to ensure the equity of investments across the system.
4 Transit Agency Relationships and Initiatives to Improve Bus Stops and Pedestrian Access On the basis of this synthesis project, the study team determined that some future research needs, including the following, require further exploration if transit agencies are to fully implement and benefit from strong bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improvement programs: â¢ Further development of research is needed on the effects of improvement programs beyond fixed-route ridership for a full understanding of how programs can be beneficial at specified levels of investment and improvements. â¢ Further research targeting examples of transit agency agreements with developers and the creation of model agreement practices or templates would be useful for simplifying the implementation of infrastructure improvements. â¢ Examples of unique and innovative funding models could evolve through research and implementation by transit agencies, regional authorities, and other government entities. â¢ Models and mechanisms are needed for ADA compliance prioritization in funding programs and policies to further encourage and incentivize raising the level of acces- sibility at existing noncompliant transit stops. â¢ Analysis of the actual equity of bus stop improvements supports the equitable use of funding to neighborhoods with high levels of need. Existing research has addressed transit service equity, but research is lacking on the equity of improvement projects by cities, by transit systems, or both.