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Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies A SYNTHESIS OF TRANSIT PRACTICE Kelly Blume, James Cardenas, and Ipek Sener Texas A&M Transportation Institute Austin, TX Will Rodman Texas A&M Transportation Institute Dallas, TX 2021 Research sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration in cooperation with the Transit Development Corporation Subject Areas Planning and Forecasting â¢ Policy â¢ Public Transportation T R A N S I T C O O P E R A T I V E R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M TCRP SYNTHESIS 154
TCRP SYNTHESIS 154 Project J-07, Topic SH-20 ISSN 1073-4880 ISBN 978-0-309-67390-7 Â© 2021 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein. Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, FTA, GHSA, NHTSA, or TDC endorsement of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP. NOTICE The report was reviewed by the technical panel and accepted for publication according to procedures established and overseen by the Transportation Research Board and approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this report are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessarily those of the Transporta- tion Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; or the program sponsors. The Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and the sponsors of the Transit Cooperative Research Program do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturersâ names or logos appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the report. Published reports of the TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM are available from Transportation Research Board Business Office 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 and can be ordered through the Internet by going to https://www.mytrb.org/MyTRB/Store/default.aspx Printed in the United States of America TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM The nationâs growth and the need to meet mobility, environmental, and energy objectives place demands on public transit systems. Cur- rent systems, some of which are old and in need of upgrading, must expand service area, increase service frequency, and improve efficiency to serve these demands. Research is necessary to solve operating prob- lems, adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and introduce innovations into the transit industry. The Transit Coopera- tive Research Program (TCRP) serves as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative near-term solutions to meet demands placed on it. The need for TCRP was originally identified in TRB Special Report 213âResearch for Public Transit: New Directions, published in 1987 and based on a study sponsored by the Urban Mass Transportation Administrationânow the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). A report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Transportation 2000, also recognized the need for local, problem- solving research. TCRP, modeled after the successful National Coop- erative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), undertakes research and other technical activities in response to the needs of transit ser- vice providers. The scope of TCRP includes various transit research fields including planning, service configuration, equipment, facilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and administrative practices. TCRP was established under FTA sponsorship in July 1992. Pro- posed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, TCRP was authorized as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). On May 13, 1992, a memorandum agreement outlining TCRP operating procedures was executed by the three cooperating organi- zations: FTA; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, acting through the Transportation Research Board (TRB); and the Transit Development Corporation, Inc. (TDC), a nonprofit educational and research organization established by APTA. TDC is responsible for forming the independent governing board, designated as the TCRP Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Commission. Research problem statements for TCRP are solicited periodically but may be submitted to TRB by anyone at any time. It is the responsibility of the TOPS Commission to formulate the research program by identi- fying the highest priority projects. As part of the evaluation, the TOPS Commission defines funding levels and expected products. Once selected, each project is assigned to an expert panel appointed by TRB. The panels prepare project statements (requests for propos- als), select contractors, and provide technical guidance and counsel throughout the life of the project. The process for developing research problem statements and selecting research agencies has been used by TRB in managing cooperative research programs since 1962. As in other TRB activities, TCRP project panels serve voluntarily without compensation. Because research cannot have the desired effect if products fail to reach the intended audience, special emphasis is placed on disseminat- ing TCRP results to the intended users of the research: transit agen- cies, service providers, and suppliers. TRB provides a series of research reports, syntheses of transit practice, and other supporting material developed by TCRP research. APTA will arrange for workshops, train- ing aids, field visits, and other activities to ensure that results are imple- mented by urban and rural transit industry practitioners. TCRP provides a forum where transit agencies can cooperatively address common operational problems. TCRP results support and complement other ongoing transit research and training programs.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, non- governmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. John L. Anderson is president. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president. The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine. Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org. The Transportation Research Board is one of seven major programs of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation improvements and innovation through trusted, timely, impartial, and evidence-based information exchange, research, and advice regarding all modes of transportation. The Boardâs varied activities annually engage about 8,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. Learn more about the Transportation Research Board at www.TRB.org.
CRP STAFF FOR TCRP SYNTHESIS 154 Christopher J. Hedges, Director, Cooperative Research Programs Lori L. Sundstrom, Deputy Director, Cooperative Research Programs Gwen Chisholm Smith, Manager, Transit Cooperative Research Program Mariela Garcia-Colberg, Senior Program Officer Sheila A. Moore, Program Associate Eileen P. Delaney, Director of Publications Natalie Barnes, Associate Director of Publications TCRP PROJECT J-07 PANEL Elizabeth Presutti, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, Des Moines, IA (Chair) Jameson Auten, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Kansas City, MO Mallory Avis, Battle Creek Transit, Battle Creek, MI Fabian Cevallos, Florida International University, Miami, FL Roderick B. Diaz, Southern California Regional Rail Authority, Los Angeles, CA Mark Donaghy, Greater Dayton RTA, Dayton, OH Christian Kent, Christian T. Kent, Transit Management Consulting, LLC, Virginia Beach, VA Ronald J. Kilcoyne, TMD, Walnut Creek, CA Brad Miller, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), St. Petersburg, FL Jarrett W. Stoltzfus, Proterra, Mt. Rainier, MD David Wilcock, VHB, Boston, MA Faith Hall, FTA Liaison Arthur Guzzetti, APTA Liaison William Terry, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Liaison TOPIC SH-20 PANEL John Christian Andoh, Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET), Columbia, SC Julia Castillo, Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency (HIRTA), Urbandale, IA Elizabeth Collins, NAIPTA, Flagstaff, AZ Murriah Suzanne Dekle, Treasure Coast Connector, Fort Pierce, FL Ronald J. Kilcoyne, TMD, Walnut Creek, CA Amy Pettine, Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Boston, MA Steven Ponte, Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority, Antioch, CA Luther Wynder, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, Burnsville, MN Raymond Tomczak, FTA Liaison C O O P E R A T I V E R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M S
AUTHOR ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The authors would like to thank the many individuals who contributed to this report. They include members of the project oversight panel and transit and transportation agency employees who completed the survey. The authors would especially like to thank the transit and transportation agency employees who participated in the case examples and contributed their experiences and insights to the findings and recommendations in this report. The case example agencies are comprised of the following: â¢ Casper Area Transportation Coalition/City of Casper â¢ City of Huntsville Public Transit â¢ Coastal Regional Commission â¢ Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization â¢ East Central Iowa Council of Governments/CorridorRides â¢ Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency â¢ Franklin Regional Transit Authority â¢ Gaston County ACCESS â¢ Harford Transit LINK/Harford County Government â¢ Manatee County Area Transit â¢ Minnesota Public Transit Association â¢ Missoula Ravalli Transportation Management Association â¢ Monroe County Transportation Authority â¢ Mountain Line Transit Authority â¢ Mountain Line/Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transit Authority â¢ Okanogan County Transit Authority/TranGO â¢ Oregon Department of Transportation â¢ Pennsylvania Department of Transportation â¢ Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority â¢ Rio Metro Regional Transit District â¢ Rogue Valley Transportation District â¢ Shore Transit Division, Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland â¢ Southwest Iowa Transit Agency â¢ St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners Transit Division
ABOUT THE TCRP SYNTHESIS PROGRAM Transit administrators, engineers, and researchers often face problems for which information already exists, either in documented form or as undocumented experience and practice. This infor- mation may be fragmented, scattered, and unevaluated. As a consequence, full knowledge of what has been learned about a problem may not be brought to bear on its solution. Costly research find- ings may go unused, valuable experience may be overlooked, and due consideration may not be given to recommended practices for solving or alleviating the problem. There is information on nearly every subject of concern to the transit industry. Much of it derives from research or from the work of practitioners faced with problems in their day-to-day work. To provide a systematic means for assembling and evaluating such useful information and to make it available to the entire transit community, the Transit Cooperative Research Program Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee authorized the Transportation Research Board to undertake a continuing study. This study, TCRP Project J-07, âSynthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices,â searches out and synthesizes useful knowledge from all available sources and prepares concise, documented reports on specific topics. Reports from this endeavor constitute a TCRP report series, Synthesis of Transit Practice. This synthesis series reports on current knowledge and practice, in a compact format, without the detailed directions usually found in handbooks or design manuals. Each report in the series provides a compendium of the best knowledge available on those measures found to be the most successful in resolving specific problems. FOREWORD By Mariela Garcia-Colberg Staff Officer Transportation Research Board In planning transit service, small and mid-sized transit agencies face challenges that differ some- what from those faced by larger agencies. Therefore, this synthesis effort focused on documenting innovative planning practices to solve challenges at small and mid-sized agenciesâi.e., agencies that provide fewer than 10 million trips a year. The findings of the research nevertheless will help transit agencies of all sizes. Small and mid-sized agencies will benefit from seeing how similar agencies deal with their transit service issues. Large transit agencies could apply what they learn to sub-areas in their transit service area that are compa- rable to the service area of a small or mid-sized transit agency. The results of the synthesis research may also apply to state DOTs, regional planning organizations (e.g., metropolitan planning organi- zations and councils of government), and local governments that play a role in funding, planning, or otherwise supporting transit service. A literature review was performed and detailed survey responses from 156 agencies were collected. An analysis of the state-of-the-practice, emphasizing lessons learned, current practices, challenges, and gaps in information, is provided. Thirty case examples, involving 25 agencies and organized around five different themes, were also developed. Kelly Blume and colleagues from Texas A&M Transportation Institute synthesized the informa- tion and wrote the report, under the guidance of a panel of experts in the subject area. The members of the topic panel are acknowledged on the preceding page. This synthesis is an immediately useful document that records the practices that were acceptable within the limitations of the knowledge available at the time of its preparation. As progress in research and practice continues, new knowl- edge will be added to that now at hand.
1 Summary 1 Overview of Research Approach 1 Conclusions 2 Future Research Needs 4 Chapter 1 Introduction 4 Objectives and Scope 4 Definition of Key Terms 5 Technical Approach 5 Report Organization 6 Chapter 2 Background 6 Transit Planning Challenges 7 Small and Mid-Sized Transit Agencies 7 Research to Date 10 Chapter 3 Transit Agency Survey 10 Purpose 10 Method 11 Results 11 Characteristics of Survey Respondents 13 Survey Findings 17 Chapter 4 Case Examples 17 Purpose 17 Method 18 Selected Case Examples 24 Chapter 5 Innovative Approaches to Addressing Transit Planning Challenges 25 Theme #1: Service Innovation, Tailored Services, and Marketing 25 Case Example 1A: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority 29 Case Example 1B: Rio Metro Regional Transit District 32 Case Example 1C: Southwest Iowa Transit Agency (Region 13) 34 Case Example 1D: Mountain Line/NAIPTA 36 Theme #2: Lack of Adequate Funding 36 Case Example 2A: Corridor MPO 38 Case Example 2B: East Central Iowa Council of Governments/CorridorRides 40 Case Example 2C: Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency 42 Case Example 2D: Missoula Ravalli Transportation Management Association 44 Case Example 2E: Shore Transit Division, Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland 46 Case Example 2F: Mountain Line Transit Authority C O N T E N T S
48 Theme #3: Lack of Technology and Supporting Staff 48 Case Example 3A: Manatee County Area Transit 50 Case Example 3B: Monroe County Transportation Authority 52 Case Example 3C: Oregon Department of Transportation 54 Case Example 3D: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation 57 Case Example 3E: Harford Transit LINK/Harford County Government 59 Theme #4: Service Planning/Redesign 59 Case Example 4A: Casper Area Transportation Coalition/City of Casper 60 Case Example 4B: City of Huntsville Public Transit 63 Case Example 4C: Coastal Regional Commission 65 Case Example 4D: Gaston County ACCESS 66 Case Example 4E: Harford Transit LINK/Harford County Government 70 Case Example 4F: Minnesota Public Transit Association/Minnesota Department of Transportation 72 Case Example 4G: Mountain Line/NAIPTA 73 Case Example 4H: Mountain Line/NAIPTA 75 Case Example 4I: Mountain Line Transit Authority 77 Case Example 4J: Okanogan County Transit Authority/TranGO 80 Theme #5: Microtransit and FMLM Access 80 Case Example 5A: Manatee County Area Transit 81 Case Example 5B: Franklin Regional Transit Authority 83 Case Example 5C: Rogue Valley Transportation District 86 Case Example 5D: St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners Transit Division 90 Case Example 5E: Mountain Line/NAIPTA 93 Chapter 6 Conclusions and Future Research Needs 93 Survey Findings 93 Case Example Findings 95 Future Research Needs 96 References 97 Acronyms 99 Appendix A Survey Questionnaire 106 Appendix B List of Survey Respondents 114 Appendix C Selected Survey Responses 141 Appendix D Additional Case Example Background 147 Appendix E Selected Federal Transit Resources