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Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies (2021)

Chapter: Appendix D - Additional Case Example Background

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Page 141
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D - Additional Case Example Background." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26204.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix D - Additional Case Example Background." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26204.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix D - Additional Case Example Background." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26204.
×
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Page 144
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D - Additional Case Example Background." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26204.
×
Page 144
Page 145
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D - Additional Case Example Background." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26204.
×
Page 145
Page 146
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D - Additional Case Example Background." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26204.
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141   Some case example agencies provided additional background information. It is included in this appendix. Case Example 1D: Mountain Line/NAIPTA NAU generates substantial transit ridership, and most of the campus is arranged such that it can be served with cost-effective transit. NAU students also get to ride Route 10 for free. This route has 8- to 10-minute headways and connects NAU’s campus with downtown Flagstaff and off-campus student housing. The city of Flagstaff adopted growth plans that encourage more transit-oriented development and planned development close to downtown and on major commercial corridors will be close to existing transit routes. Mountain Line also expanded its employer-based ecoPASS program to residential developments as well. This program provides bulk discounted yearly passes for employers and residents. Case Examples 2F and 4I: Mountain Line Transit Authority In 2018, Morgantown, West Virginia, had a permanent population of approximately 31,000 spread over 10 square miles, with a metropolitan area population of 138,000. Morgantown is the county seat of Monongalia County and situated along the Monongahela River, which flows north to Pittsburgh. Morgantown is also home to WVU, which has an enrollment of approxi- mately 32,000. Most of Morgantown is accessible by the MLTA bus system, which provides about 1 million trips per year. Morgantown also is the location of the WVU-owned PRT service—a five-station, 8-mile system that connects the three WVU campuses with Morgantown’s downtown area and serves about 200,000 trips per year. MLTA currently has 24 route deviation lines, most of which operate Monday through Saturday, with some starting as early as 6:30 a.m. and some going as late as 4 a.m. on certain days when WVU is in session. Limited Sunday service also operates when WVU is in session. All but a few of these routes run through the downtown hub on hourly headways, enabling transfers at the top or bottom of the hour, depending on the route. Exceptions are two cir- cumferential routes, a campus circulator, and the Grey Line, which runs between Clarksburg and Morgantown and Morgantown and Pittsburgh. Virtually all local routes allow deviation requests and flag stops, and MLTA is planning to add bus shelters at high-volume locations. Anyone may request deviations within 3/4 of a mile A P P E N D I X D Additional Case Example Background

142 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies of route corridors. Buses are not always able to pick up a rider at the exact location requested, but MLTA’s mobility coordinator and the rider often can come up with a good compromise if the bus is not able to get to a requested location safely. MLTA staff report that there are about 10 deviation requests per day. The regular bus fare is 75 cents on all local routes, with fares ranging from $3 to $20 on the Grey Line. Requested deviations are an additional 50 cents. Seniors ride free through a program with the local senior center. High school students also ride free, as do WVU students, with the university reimbursing MLTA 75 cents for each student trip on an MLTA local bus. County residents who pay property taxes directly or indirectly ride free, under the premise that they already have contributed to fare revenue through a property tax levy. To launch the Levy Pass Program, MLTA established three categories for those eligible to receive a bus pass based on their property tax payments: • Individual home and property owners. • Rental property owners (who may choose to offer bus passes to their tenants). • Commercial property owners (who may choose to offer bus passes to their tenants). MLTA then verifies that applicants are current in their tax payments and issues some passes based on the property tax paid. This is, basically, one pass per every $1,000 of property tax paid. The passes are good for as long as property taxes are paid. MLTA checks payment status annually. Case Example 4A: Casper Area Transportation Coalition/City of Casper The city of Casper is the designated recipient for federal transit grants in the Casper urban- ized area, which also includes the municipalities of Mills, Evansville, and Bar Nunn. The city of Casper contracts transit system management and operations to CATC, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. CATC was formed from the consolidation of three local transportation programs: Project Mobility, Casper Senior Transportation, and Community Recreational Transportation. CATC’s governing board was made up of members appointed by these agencies and a liaison from the city of Casper. From 1982 to 2005, the service operated by CATC was a shared-ride, demand- responsive, general public advance-reservation service operating under the CATC name. In April 2005, fixed-route and route deviation services were added under the brand name The Bus. The Bus began with four fixed routes serving most of the city. In 2007, connecting services to the cities of Mills and Evansville were added using operating and capital grants from Wyoming DOT (WYDOT). Meanwhile, CATC service was continued, not only meeting ADA paratransit obligations but also serving general public residents who had trouble accessing or using The Bus. The six routes of The Bus line service currently operate as a route deviation service, although deviation requests are rare (i.e., five to six per month). Deviation requests are mostly for drop- offs and are requested through the driver, who calls the dispatcher to see if there is enough slack in the schedule to complete the deviation and remain on time. By policy, deviations can be made only up to 3/4 of a mile from the route. The Blue, Red, Yellow, and Green routes operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays. They pulse at the Beech Street Station downtown transit center 30 minutes after the hour. The Purple and Orange routes, which connect with Mills and

Additional Case Example Background 143   Evansville, also operate on hourly headways, but only on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. These routes do not serve the downtown transit center. CATC operates in a zone system, with vehicles assigned to distinct areas for roundtrips origi- nating in those areas. There also is one “floater” vehicle. While CATC operates on an advance- reservations policy, most return trips, and especially those from medical appointments, are requested on a “will call” basis. Also, if there ever is a vehicle breakdown or accident on the fixed-route system, a CATC vehicle usually is dispatched to continue the route until a fixed- route vehicle can be substituted in. Operations and equipment funding is provided through a combination of federal, state, and local dollars. Local matches are provided by the city of Casper; towns of Mills, Evansville, and Bar Nunn; county of Natrona; and WYDOT. Vehicles operated by CATC for The Bus and paratransit services are owned by the city of Casper and the towns of Mills and Evansville. The Bus’ fleet consists of nine vehicles, while CATC services operate with 11. Each fleet has distinct vehicle branding. In FY 2019, The Bus provided nearly 167,800 trips—an increase of 5% over FY 2018—at an operating cost of $821,000. The CATC demand-responsive service provided approximately 45,700 trips—down 1.5% from FY 2018—at an operating cost of $1.22 million. Fare for The Bus is $1, plus $2 for deviations, with 50% discounts for seniors and persons with disabilities. The CATC general public fare is $30 per month for unlimited rides. Seniors and persons with disabilities pay $15 per month for unlimited rides. The city of Casper supplies $35,000 for a local match from its general fund. The towns of Mills and Evansville contribute $500 and $400, respectively, while Bar Nunn provides $1,200 and Natrona County $13,500. Case Example 4B: City of Huntsville Public Transit Huntsville Transit is the public transit system in the city of Huntsville, Alabama. The fixed- route system—formerly called Huntsville Shuttle and recently rebranded as Orbit Huntsville— consists of 10 routes, all of which pulse at the downtown transit center. The system operates 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Fares are $1, and transfers are free. Access Huntsville is the new name of Handi-Ride, the city’s ADA paratransit service. Its service hours correspond to those of Orbit Huntsville, and it is available within city limits. The city uses Routematch for paratransit reservations, scheduling, and dispatching. It offers a free mobile app, Amble, to enable riders to make reservations and track vehicles in real time. All trips must be requested on a next-day basis, up to one month in advance. Fares are paid with tickets purchased in advance. They cost $2 each. Case Example 4C: Coastal Regional Commission The Coastal Regional Coaches system is a demand-responsive, advance-reservation regional system that encompasses both rural public transit and coordinated human service transporta- tion. It uses one fleet of 67 buses operated by several public and private carriers under contract to the CRC. The service operates from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Fares for public transit ridership on Coastal Regional Coaches is $3 one way and $6 roundtrip within the passenger’s

144 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies county of residence. For travel outside the county of residence, fares vary based on the number of counties traversed. A centralized call and control center for Coastal Regional Coaches is maintained at CRC offices in Darien, the county seat of McIntosh County. Case Example 4D: Gaston County ACCESS Located due west of Charlotte, North Carolina, Gaston County is the seventh-largest county in North Carolina, with a 2019 population of 224,529 spread over 356 square miles. Its county seat is Gastonia, which has its own transit system called Gastonia Transit. The county operates a second transportation system, ACCESS Central Transportation, beyond the city of Gastonia and throughout the county. ACCESS is one of North Carolina’s county-based coordinated transportation systems. Created in 1981, ACCESS provides rural general public transportation and trips sponsored by North Carolina’s Elderly and Disabled Transportation Assistance Program and Medicaid NEMT. It also provides transportation programs for state employment and veterans, public and private human service agencies, and seniors. General public transportation is provided via: • A route deviation service, which operates from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., serving Gaston Col- lege, various shopping venues (including grocery stores and a farmer’s market), and several apartment complexes. It is coordinated with Gastonia Transit every hour at a transfer facility. • A demand-responsive transportation service, which operates from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. The fare for both services is $1. In addition, special contract subscription routes are operated for certain human service agencies, such as Gaston Skills (which provides services for persons with developmental disabilities) and five congregate meal sites. ACCESS’ route deviation service offers deviated fixed-route service a maximum of twice daily per person, and it must be within 3/4 of a mile of the fixed route. Deviations must be requested at least 3 days in advance of the requested pickup on the day of travel. These trips are scheduled as separate pickups in addition to regular stops. For demand-responsive service, trips may be requested at least 3 days in advance. Subscription trips also may be established. All vehicles for regular and contract service are wheelchair-accessible. Case Example 4J: Okanogan County Transit Authority/TranGO Okanogan County is in North Central Washington on the Canadian border. It is fairly rural, with a 2019 population of 42,250 spread over 5,315 square miles, making it the state’s largest county in terms of land area. The county seat is the city of Okanogan, which has a population of 2,600 and is located in the middle of the county. Directly northeast of Okanogan is the county’s largest city, Omak, with a population of 4,800. Omak and Okanogan are included in the Omak metropolitan area, which includes most of the county’s retail and shopping establishments. About one-fifth of the county’s residents live in greater Omak. Other county municipalities include Oroville, Tonasket, Winthrop, Twisp, Pateros, and Brewster. Almost half the county population is in small towns. TranGO’s route deviation service consists of seven interconnecting routes that pulse at five different transfer points for easy transfers. While each of the routes has a different starting and ending time, they generally operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Devia- tions are provided for ADA-eligible riders and can be requested at least 24 hours in advance.

Additional Case Example Background 145   The transit fleet consists of 10 buses, and the single-ride fare is $1. TranGO also sells one-zone, two-zone, and system-wide passes for unlimited rides. Riders can use the RouteShout app to pinpoint real-time bus locations. In 2019, 58,000 passenger trips occurred on the route devia- tion service. Until OCTA was formed, the only public transportation system within the county was a demand-responsive service for seniors operated by Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition (OCTN). OCTN still provides demand-responsive services in the county, includ- ing for congregate meal programs in Twisp, Omak, Brewster, Tonasket, and Oroville. Part of this demand-responsive service involves providing ADA paratransit service under contract to OCTA. OCTN also provides two of the route deviation services within the system. The fare for these services is $1. Routematch scheduling software is used to support deviation management and scheduling. Driver communication is accomplished for both companies through tablets mounted in each vehicle. OCTA also launched a vanpool program to meet the needs of out-of-the-way employers and their employees, especially those working at federal dams and in the National Forest Service. OCTA began service in July 2016 with two vanpools and added a third in November 2016. By 2019, seven vanpools were operating, serving more than 12,000 passenger trips for the year. Note that vanpool fares for federal employees are subsidized. The only other public transportation service that serves the county is an intercity bus line, called Apple Line, that connects OCTA with LINK in Wenatchee, Washington. The nearest higher-care Veterans Administration Medical Center is in Wenatchee. Travel time from Omak to Wenatchee is approximately 2.5 hours, and the bus leaves Omak daily around 6 a.m. Case Example 5B: Franklin Regional Transit Authority Headquartered in Greenfield in western Massachusetts, FRTA has the largest service area in the commonwealth, serving all of Franklin County and parts of the North Quabbin region. Its fixed-route system consists of eight routes, with connections to two neighboring regional transit agencies: Pioneer Valley Transit Authority and Montachusett Regional Transit Authority. All but one of the routes pulse out of the JWO Transit Center in downtown Greenfield. Amtrak and intercity bus lines also serve the transit center. The local bus fare is $1.50. Overlaying the local fixed-route network is an ADA paratransit service. FRTA also provides, in selected communities, the Demand Response (DR) service for persons 60 years of age and older, eligible LifePath Inc. consumers, nursing home residents, and certain disabled veterans. The ADA paratransit fare is $3, while the DR fare varies based on the trip’s origin and destina- tion towns. ADA paratransit trips can be booked up until the day before the trip, while DR trips require notice of 24 to 48 hours. The fixed-route service is operated by a local subsidiary of First Transit, while the ADA para- transit and DR services are offered by other providers, including Councils on Aging, under contract to FRTA. It should be noted that, by law, RTAs in Massachusetts must use contractors to operate fixed-route and demand-responsive services. Case Example 5C: Rogue Valley Transportation District The city of Ashland has a population of about 20,000 spread over 6 square miles. To supple- ment the Route 10 bus route that runs in the city’s major corridor, RVTD implemented a two- vehicle microtransit service (i.e., an on-demand, shared-ride general public transit connector

146 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies service). Branded the Ashland Connector, the microtransit service is operated by Paratransit Services, Inc., under contract to RVTD. Service is available within the city limits of Ashland from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. One of the service’s vehicles is equipped with a rear-boarding wheelchair lift—passengers are expected to be able to load themselves into the vehicle with limited driver assistance. Case Example 5D: St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners Transit Division St. Lucie County is located on Florida’s Atlantic shore between Indian River County to the north and Martin County to the south. Its 2019 population was 328,300 spread over 688 square miles. Because of St. Lucie County’s size, it is difficult to provide public transportation to all of its neighborhoods, but Community Transit operates eight fixed routes throughout the county. Two of the routes also extend to abutting counties. Routes 1 through 6 operate 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Routes 7 and 8 operate from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays only. In 2019, fixed-route ridership totaled 684,249 passenger trips. Community Transit also operates a demand-response service that provides ADA paratransit and TD transportation for eligible individuals. This service operates during fixed-route hours. In 2019, demand-responsive ridership totaled 104,909 trips. One unique Direct Connect aspect is the fare. Participating riders pay a flat co-pay of up to $20 per month that allows them to take any number of trips up to a maximum subsidy per month. The maximum subsidy originally was set at $500, but because of budget constraints and program popularity, it later was reduced to $300 per month. Co-pay for low-income participants is on a sliding scale. Those whose incomes are at 100% of or below the poverty level ride free. Those whose incomes are more than 100% and up to 150% of the poverty level receive an 80% fare discount. If their income is more than 150% and up to 250% of the poverty level, they get a 60% fare discount.

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Diverse small and mid-sized transit agencies are very interested in finding solutions for their transit planning challenges. They will benefit from seeing how similar agencies deal with their transit service issues. Large transit agencies could also apply what is learned to sub-areas in their transit service area that are comparable to the service area of a small or mid-sized transit agency.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Synthesis 154: Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies documents innovative practices for solving transit planning challenges faced by small and mid-sized transit agencies. These challenges include but are not limited to concerns about ridership, demographic shifts, first- and last-mile transportation, changes in land use, changes in regulations, service design, funding challenges, service delivery, and technology changes. These challenges are applicable to fixed-route, flex-route, and demand-responsive transit services.

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