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5 Introduction Background All transit agencies that operate or purchase transportation service for fixed-route bus service have an intrinsic interest in the presence and quality of infrastructure in the immediate bus stop area and on the connecting pathways to simplify access to fixed-route transit for all riders. Such amenities include shelters, benches, concrete landing pads, sidewalks, curb cuts, and marked crosswalks. High-quality bus stops, sidewalks, and intersection crossings affect not only ridersâ comfort when using transit but also the accessibility of the fixed-route system. Inaccessible bus stopsâdue to broken sidewalk pathways or lack of seating at the stopâcan subsequently spur increased use of ADA paratransit service to complete needed trips. Limited financial resources make it difficult to ensure equitable improvements across the fixed-route system and fairly distribute bus service. Bus stops that lack accessibility and high-quality infrastructure negatively affect both the ability of riders to reach bus service and the agencyâs costs and revenues. Transit agencies looking to improve bus stops also must deal with jurisdiction and ROW issues for the landing pad and connected pedestrian pathway. Typically, local or state govern- ments (depending on the adjacent roadway) hold jurisdiction over the streetscapes that need improvements to sidewalks, curb cuts, ramps, and crossings to upgrade access to the bus stops. The ADA requires transit agencies to give persons with disabilities equal access to public transportation. Transit agencies also must consider easement and platting issues with businesses and private property owners, which may present barriers to bringing bus stops into ADA compliance. Private developers and utility companies can undertake construction projects without transit agency knowledge or involvement, becoming a missed opportunity to conve- niently and cost-effectively improve sidewalks or landing pads. Transit agency staff members must coordinate, communicate, and build relationships to represent transit interests in local planning and development processes. Improved collaboration with local public and private entities can also identify financial resources and funding opportunities so that transit-related infrastructure improvements can be a built-in component of nearby private developments and larger public projects. Transit agencies can use ridership figures, demographic profiles, inventory data, and other resources and factors to guide investment decision making. Public agencies employ tools to prioritize improvements and project funding, ranging from simple asset spreadsheets to geographic information system (GIS) software, and transit agencies can establish scoring parameters as part of their improvement program standards. Agencies also use agreements with local cities, state DOTs, and private companies to gain jurisdiction over bus stop shelter areas, designate responsibilities for infrastructure maintenance, or specify the funding require- ments of local partners tied to bus stop improvement projects. For transit agencies looking to C H A P T E R 1
6 Transit Agency Relationships and Initiatives to Improve Bus Stops and Pedestrian Access start or grow their bus stop programs, it is important to understand the available strategies and best practices in relationships and agreements with local partners to successfully implement improvements based on agency goals and priorities. This synthesis report presents an overview of the current state of the practice for transit agencies and government authorities adminis- tering various types of bus stop improvement programs. Objective and Scope The objective of this synthesis report is to provide useful information on the state of the practice at transit agencies and other partnering entities to improve bus stops and connecting pedestrian infrastructure. The study aims to showcase the benefits and challenges of improve- ment programs with respect to interagency relationships, agreements with other entities, and communication with private developers. The report illustrates tools and prioritization strategies for identifying target transit stops and corridors for infrastructure improvements, along with the criteria and methodologies for investment decision making. The report focuses on programs and initiatives for the bus stop amenities, immediate connecting pedestrian pathways, and nearby intersections that are integral to accessing transit. This synthesis report is not concerned with improvements to larger facilities such as transit centers or rail stations unless they are relevant to the funding and coordination processes for improving local bus stops. The report is likewise not concerned with ongoing maintenance activities at bus stops (such as trash pickup, shelter cleaning, or landscaping); sometimes these activities are incorporated into contracts between transit agencies and private contractors to install or maintain the condition of shelters, but this study does not explore those aspects of contracts in detail. The report does not describe in detail any real-time technology at bus stops that displays next-bus arrival information, nor does it review pedestrian crossing auditory or visual signal technologies. These technologies were determined to be beyond the immediate project scope and are covered by other research products. Likewise, bus stop infrastructure prioritization folded into transit network redesigns is covered in other research reports, such as TCRP Synthesis 140: Comprehensive Bus Network Redesigns. Within the case examples in this report, some information is included about adding or eliminating bus stops as a result of other processes, corridor projects, or service changes. Definition of Terms The following key terms for bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure appear often throughout this report. These terms and definitions were provided to agencies that received the survey to establish consistency of terminology. The following definitions were adapted from transit agency standards and the experience of the study team: â¢ Shelter. A curbside amenity designed to provide protection and relief from the elements and a place to sit while patrons wait for the bus. Shelters provide a minimum clear floor or ground space and are connected by an accessible route to a boarding and alighting area. â¢ Bench. Standard seating for two to four persons to wait at the bus stop, typically underneath the shelter (if present). â¢ Landing pad. A clear, level, and paved area that is provided for bus patrons and can connect to a bench or shelter, connected to the pedestrian pathway if possible. Landing pads are at least 5 feet wide and 8 feet deep, perpendicular to the curb, and at curb height, according to ADA standards. Landing pads are the locations where passengers board and alight from buses. â¢ Rear-door area. An additional firm surface area located adjacent to the rear door of the bus, connected to the standard landing pad area and the pedestrian pathway.
Introduction 7 â¢ Pathway. The pedestrian path to get to and from the landing pad serving the bus stop, preferably using a paved, continuous, and level sidewalk to ensure accessibility and ease of use for all riders. â¢ Crossing. Designated place for pedestrians to cross a street at an intersection or midblock, typically with markings on the road and pedestrian signals. â¢ Curb ramp. A short ramp at a street intersection, cutting through a curb or built up to it, designed to safely transition from a roadway to a curbed sidewalk. Curb ramps at marked crossings are wholly contained within the markings, excluding any flared sides. â¢ Lighting. Overhead lighting at the bus stop area either on, or adjacent to, the landing pad. Adequate lighting is important for customer comfort, safety, and security. â¢ Detectable warning. Distinctive surface pattern of truncated domes on the curb ramp, detectable by cane or underfoot, to alert the pedestrian of the approaching street crossing. Figure 1 shows a sample diagram of bus stop accessibility features from the Washington State Department of Transportation Design Manual (2019). Figure 2 depicts an example of a bus stop at the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TransitCenter, 2018). Technical Approach to the Project Study This study was conducted in three main phases: (1) a literature review of existing research and transit agency programs and agreement examples related to bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improvements, (2) an online survey targeting transit agencies with identified *Slope may be the same as the roadway Figure 1. Bus stop accessibility features. Figure 2. Example of bus stop in Portland, OR.
8 Transit Agency Relationships and Initiatives to Improve Bus Stops and Pedestrian Access programs, and (3) in-depth case examples of selected transit agencies that responded to the survey. Literature Review First, the study team reviewed relevant literature on previous research and transit agency examples of improvement programs and initiatives. The study team focused on topics related to agreements, developers and permitting, processes and tools, communication and feedback, program responsibility, and accessibility and equity of improvements. The review also sought information on federal regulations and guidance regarding bus stops and nearby pedestrian pathways. The study team gathered examples from transit agencies of bus stop programs, tools, prioritization methods, contracts and agreements, and relevant agency staff contacts. The team scanned and searched academic sources and reports and employed regular search engines, using keywords relevant to the research topics. Survey of North American Transit Agencies Second, the study team developed a list of North American transit agencies and other related entities based on identified information on bus stop and pedestrian access improvement programs. Agencies on this list were recruited to participate in the survey and answer questions about their program objectives, agreements and coordination, and prioritization considerations. Figure 3 maps the responding transit agencies, DOTs, and other government entities in the continental United States that completed the survey. The study team developed a survey questionnaire to learn more about agency practices in infrastructure improvements. The survey was structured into sections on the scope of bus stop programs, bus stop infrastructure elements, tools and processes, agreements with local entities, communication and coordination, accessibility and equity, funding considerations, infrastructure investment benefits, challenges of improvement programs, and lessons learned. Conditional logic was built into the survey to omit nonapplicable questions and to ask repeated questions for agencies with multiple agreements related to bus stop infrastructure. The final survey tool is included in Appendix A of this report. Case Examples Third, after the survey was complete, five agencies were selected as case examples based on survey responses about unique or best practices and agreements (or informal relationships) with other local entities. The study team and the topic panel also took care to represent both geographic and agency size diversity in the case examples while inviting agencies that would provide lessons learned of use to other transit agencies. The case example invitations cut across U.S. time zones and locations with varying weather conditions to include locales with different climate and precipitation challenges. The agencies that agreed to be case examples for this report represent two metropolitan transit authorities, one municipal transit agency, one small urban transit district, and one regional transportation authority. The case exam- ples consisted of guided interviews with agency staff members to gather further details in addition to the survey responses. Some agencies invited staff members from partner agen- cies to participate in the calls, and some agencies also shared their agreement and program documentation as available. The following agencies participated in the case example part of this study: â¢ Athens-Clarke County Transit (Athens, GA) â¢ Regional Transportation Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, and Pace (Chicago, IL, region)
Introduction 9 â¢ San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (San Francisco, CA) â¢ Utah Transit Authority (Salt Lake City, UT) â¢ VIA Metropolitan Transit (San Antonio, TX) The full case example writeups are detailed in Chapter 4. The study team is grateful to the agency staff members for taking time to participate in the case example follow-up during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Report Organization This synthesis report is organized into the following five main chapters: â¢ Chapter 1, Introduction, provides an overview of the report method and tasks and a summary of the synthesis report structure. â¢ Chapter 2, Literature Review, describes the literature review findings of the report based on available research and guidance on bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure as well as examples of programs and initiatives at transit agencies. This chapter includes information on current improvement programs at transit agencies and on the measured benefits of improved bus stops and pedestrian pathways. Figure 3. Location of entities responding to the survey.
10 Transit Agency Relationships and Initiatives to Improve Bus Stops and Pedestrian Access â¢ Chapter 3, Survey, provides information on the current state of the practice for bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improvement programs based on the responding agencies. The survey results indicate how frequently factors are included in programs concerning the scope and amenities for improvement, lead departments and agencies, agreements and coordination with other entities, tools and data sources, accessibility and equity features, and funding sources. â¢ Chapter 4, Five Case Examples, contains information on improvement programs in five regions that further detail their agreements, motivations, and efforts related to improving the bus stops and the connecting pathway infrastructure. The case example writeups highlight notable practices at these transit agencies, with a particular emphasis on the program goals, prioritization design, and relationships needed for success. â¢ Chapter 5, Conclusions, summarizes the information generated for this synthesis report in the form of key findings, barriers and challenges, and best practices. The chapter also discusses potential areas for additional research on bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improvements. â¢ Appendix A provides the complete list of survey questions. â¢ Appendix B includes a table of overview information on the survey respondents. â¢ Appendix C supplies the results of the survey responses. â¢ Appendix D gives an example of the application form for the Regional Transportation Authorityâs Access to Transit program in the Chicago region. â¢ Appendix E provides an example of an interlocal agreement, one between the Utah Transit Authority and the City of Salt Lake City.