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1Â Â The purpose of TCRP Synthesis SH-20 research is to document innovative practices for solving transit planning challenges faced by small and mid-sized transit agencies. These chal- lenges 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 apply to fixed-route, flex-route, and demand-responsive transit services. Overview of Research Approach The objectives of TCRP Synthesis SH-20 research are to â¢ Conduct surveys and case examples about innovative or unique approaches to addressing planning challenges of relevance to small and mid-sized transit agencies in the United States. â¢ Document costs, benefits, and lessons learned at agencies that implemented innovative or unique approaches to solving planning challenges. The conduct of the synthesis research included a focused literature review, a survey of small and mid-sized transit agencies, case examples of transit agencies that have success- fully addressed their transit planning challenges using innovative or unique approaches, and the development of the synthesis report. Conclusions Diverse small and mid-sized transit agencies are very interested in finding solutions for their transit planning challenges, as evidenced by the number of survey respondents and level of detail in their responses. The survey and case examples further indicate that state depart- ments of transportation (DOTs) and industry trade organizations have a strong interest in helping transit agencies solve transit planning challenges. Such challenges related to service innovation, tailoring services to specific markets, and marketing appear to be the most urgent, followed by challenges related to funding, service delivery, and technology. Following are practices that case example agencies found to be useful in addressing their transit planning challenges: â¢ Getting buy-in from decisionmakers, partners, the public, and other stakeholders. Transit agencies can educate themselves about what is important to a given audience, find the right message for that audience, back it up with data, be proactive in reaching out, commit to playing the long game, and reinforce their message often, which might include investing S U M M A R Y Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies
2 Innovative Practices for Transit Planning at Small to Mid-Sized Agencies in marketing and ensuring transit agency needs are reflected in the relevant state, regional, and local plans and programs. â¢ Maintaining relationships. To build trust, transit agencies can interact with elected offi- cials and decisionmakers. They also can interact with partners to create opportunities to team up and share resources and knowledge. â¢ Developing new relationships. Transit agencies can proactively develop relationships with new partners in public and private sectors, including local governments, nonprofit organizations, private businesses, educational institutions, and other transportation pro- viders. Patience may be required to realize the benefits of these relationships. â¢ Involving multiple transit agency staff. Transit agencies can involve multiple transit agency departments and roles in developing solutions to transit planning challenges. â¢ Making full use of the resources of state DOTs and industry trade organizations. Such resources include technical assistance and educational opportunities, as well as funding. â¢ Making full use of federal resources. Small and mid-sized transit agencies might not be aware of all of the federal resources available to assist with funding and planning. â¢ Participating in a regional transit system. Partnering with other public transportation providers might enable regional transit connections and produce operating and funding efficiencies. â¢ Establishing guiding principles and clear goals. Transit agencies might find value in establishing guiding principles and clear goals to inform their decision-making. â¢ Developing a technology implementation plan. One case example agency highly recom- mends developing a phased and multidisciplinary technology implementation plan. â¢ Allowing time for everything to come together. Transit agencies can plan for iterations and adjustments as everybody involved in the project learns and adapts. They can recog- nize that they might have to adapt established processes or create new ones. â¢ Using transit planning tools carefully. Available transit planning tools can be helpful resources, but it is important to understand how they work, their limitations, and how they can be tailored to a specific transit system. â¢ Testing potential solutions. Pilot tests can be beneficial in proving the viability of con- cepts and in optimizing them. It is important to test potential solutions under realistic conditions and incorporate user feedback throughout. â¢ Focusing on the customer. Transit agencies can go into the community to learn about the publicâs needs, then tailor corresponding solutions. It also is important to keep in mind that word-of-mouth recommendations in favor of transit services and programs can be very effective. â¢ Taking advantage of opportunities to obtain training and keep it current, especially technology training. Transit agencies can budget and proactively seek opportunities for training. Agency leaders can be sensitive to the learning styles of their employees and identify people in the organization who have a passion to lead efforts to obtain and implement new technologies. â¢ Being transparent. Transit agencies can let members of the community know theyâre being heard and that agencies are actively working to address their needs and appro- priately managing public funds. In turn, transit agencies can let the community know what they need. Future Research Needs Findings of TCRP Synthesis SH-20 research suggest the following potential topics for future research: â¢ Developing a guide to assist small and mid-sized transit agencies in working with partner organizations.
Summary 3Â Â â¢ Developing a guide to assist small and mid-sized transit agencies in developing and nego- tiating intergovernmental agreements. â¢ Identifying best practices for implementing coordinated human services transportation plans (CHSTPs) required by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). â¢ Developing a guide to assist small and mid-sized transit agencies in working with devel- opers or other private-sector actors. â¢ Developing a guide to service integration for small and mid-sized transit agencies, which could address viable technologies, coordination, incentives, cost-sharing models, and more. â¢ Repeating this synthesis effort periodically (e.g., every 5Â years) to consider the roles of the newest technologies and incorporate lessons learned from newly implemented solutions.