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CONTENTS 1 SUMMARY 5 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Project Background and Objectives, 5 Technical Approach, 6 Organization of This Report, 7 8 CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction, 8 The Big Picture, 8 Bus Stop Location and Design, 10 Summary, 11 13 CHAPTER THREE SURVEY RESULTS: BUS STOP CHARACTERISTICS Introduction, 13 Design Standards for Bus Stops, 13 Responsibilities and Coordination, 16 Bus Stop Design and Location, 17 Stop Length, 18 Stop Types, 20 Pedestrian Access to Bus Stops, 22 Passenger Information, 23 Passenger Amenities at Bus Stops, 24 In-Street Bus Pads, 25 Curb Cuts/Driveways, 25 ADA Considerations, 27 Challenges, 28 Summary, 31 33 CHAPTER FOUR SURVEY RESULTS: AGENCY ASSESSMENT OF ACTIONS TO PROVIDE BETTER ON-STREET BUS STOPS Introduction, 33 Agency Assessment of Actions Taken to Improve On-Street Bus Stops, 33 Lessons Learned, 35 Summary, 37 39 CHAPTER FIVE CASE EXAMPLES Introduction, 39 Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro, Austin, Texas), 39 Central Ohio Transit Authority (Columbus, Ohio), 41 MTAâNew York City Transit (New York, New York), 44 Tri-County Metropolitan Transit District of Oregon (Portland, Oregon), 46 Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District (San Francisco, California), 48 Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Washington, D.C.), 50 53 CHAPTER SIX CONCLUSIONS Introduction, 53 Findings Concerning Better On-Street Bus Stops, 53
Agency Assessments, 54 Lessons LearnedâSurvey Respondents, 55 Lessons LearnedâCase Examples, 55 Conclusions and Areas of Future Study, 56 58 ACRONYMS 59 REFERENCES 61 APPENDIX A LIST OF PARTICIPATING TRANSIT AGENCIES 63 APPENDIX B SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE 84 APPENDIX C SUMMARY OF SURVEY RESULTS
SUMMARY BETTER ON-STREET BUS STOPS One of the unique aspects of bus transit is that the interface with the customer begins at multiple locations scattered throughout the service area. These locations, known as bus stops, are often controlled by local jurisdictions rather than by the transit agency. Local jurisdictions and transit agencies share responsibilities concerning stop location decisions, stop installation, and stop maintenance. Bus stops were not always accorded high priority by either the transit agency or the local jurisdiction. However, this situation has changed in recent years. The location, size, and design of bus stops have far-reaching impacts on customers and on transit operation in areas such as safety, accessibility, convenience, and attractiveness. Despite these impacts, which vary in urban, suburban, and rural locations, little research exists to offer bus stop guidance for transit agencies. Many research efforts have been written primarily from a traffic engineerâs perspective. The purpose of this synthesis is to report on major issues and successful approaches that address on-street bus stops from both the transit agencyâs and the customerâs perspective. The bus stop is where the customerâs journey on transit begins. What makes a good bus stop? Basics include room for the bus to pull in to the curb and to pull out into traffic, pedestrian accessibility, street design, passenger information, customer amenities, access for passengers with disabilities, and roadway/curbside design that takes account of the weight of a transit bus. Figure 1 is a schematic developed by Met- ropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)âNew York City Transit and the New York City Department of Transportation for the ideal bus stop. FIGURE 1 Schematic of an ideal bus stop.
2 Not every bus stop resembles this schematic because the real world imposes constraints. The survey of transit agencies was important in defining the current state of the practice with regard to actions taken to address constraints and improve on-street bus stops. The sampling plan involved a sample of 60 transit agencies. Forty-eight completed surveys were received from the 60 agencies in the sample, a response rate of 80%. Case examples provide additional details on challenges, solutions, bus stop design and location, and lessons learned. Six agencies were selected as case examples: â¢ Austin, Texas: Capital Metro â¢ Columbus, Ohio: Central Ohio Transit Authority â¢ New York, New York: MTAâNew York City Transit â¢ Portland, Oregon: TriMet â¢ San Francisco, California: Golden Gate Transit â¢ Washington, D.C.: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Major findings of this synthesis include the following: â¢ Absence of sidewalks, conflicting curbside uses, and concerns of property owners are among the major challenges facing transit agencies as they attempt to improve bus stops. Coordination with local governments, absence of sidewalks, and obtain- ing sufficient right-of-way were the most common responses to an open-ended survey question asking for the one major challenge facing transit agencies. â¢ Cooperation and partnerships with local municipalities, counties, and states are vital to the success of any efforts to improve on-street bus stops. Survey results indicate that 56% of transit agencies have good or very good relationships with the primary city served, but only 41% have good or very good relationships with other municipalities within their service area. These other municipalities tend to be less urban, with fewer pedestrian amenities and a higher priority for automobile traffic than for transit. The case examples suggest that going beyond cooperation to a partnership arrangement (where each side benefits from the otherâs actions) has been important in achieving success. For example, the transit agency can place bus stop improvements in the context of pedestrian improvements, streetscape projects, and municipalitiesâ other priorities, but it first needs to understand these priorities. Establishing good relation- ships builds trust on bus stop issues. These partnerships can create a shared vision of bus service stops and amenities, identify funding opportunities, obtain a seat at the table for the transit agency when streets are redesigned and private development is proposed, and develop expedient permitting approaches, all of which aid the imple- mentation of successful bus stop improvements. â¢ Bus stop lengths reported by most agencies are shorter than the guidelines cited in the literature review of 90 ft farside, 100 ft nearside, and 150 ft midblock. Several agencies agreed with the guidelines in specifying longer lengths (most often 20 ft lon- ger) for nearside stops than for farside. Many agencies report that they make the best of whatever space is available for a bus stop. â¢ Farside is mentioned three times as often as nearside as the preferred stop loca- tion, but the actual decision making is more nuanced. Subsequent responses indi- cated that many agencies that responded âdepends on specific locationâ do have a general preference for either farside or nearside, and agencies reporting a specific pref- erence do make exceptions at specific locations. In older parts of the service area, stop locations have been inherited from the previous operator, sometimes going back to the days of streetcars. â¢ Agencies that have developed their own bus stop design guidelines emphasize the importance of this process. A common theme in case example âlessons learnedâ is the usefulness of having locally developed guidelines that an agency can give to a municipality or a developer as a model of how projects can be designed to accom-
3 modate bus stops. The municipality or developer is more receptive to guidelines that are responsive to local conditions and express what the transit agency needs. If a bus stop is 75 ft long but needs to be 100 ft, case example agencies have found that their own guidelines receive a better response than national studies. One agency suggested developing diagrams and templates in computer-aided design (CAD) so designers can easily incorporate the bus stop improvements and proper clearances into their plans. A by-product of the process was the education of agency staff on bus stop issues. â¢ A successful effort to improve bus stops brings together various departments within the transit agency. Each department brings its own perspective to bus stop improvements, and participation by operations, safety, and planning departments builds internal consensus and ultimately strengthens the bus stop improvement plan. â¢ Assessments of the success of actions taken are generally positive. Most respon- dents (53%) rated their actions as âsomewhat successfulâ and 27% rated their actions as âvery successful.â Specific successful actions described in chapter four include cost-sharing arrangements, agreements with municipalities and developers to pro- vide bus stop improvements, and pursuit of funding opportunities that benefit all parties. Primary benefits are better customer access to stops, an improved customer experience at stops, and improved customer safety. The major drawbacks are budget- ary impacts and required staff time. â¢ Streamlined and simplified approval processes, legal authority to establish bus stops where needed, and better coordination with local governments were most frequently mentioned in response to the question: âIf you could change ONE aspect in the process of designing and locating bus stops, what would you change?â Respondents also mentioned standardized procedures across municipalities. â¢ The priority agencies place on bus stop improvements affects the success of these efforts. If the agency does not place a high priority on improving bus stops, neither will anyone else. â¢ Customers value information at bus stops. The most common customer request for additional information at stops is for real-time information about next-bus arrival, followed by schedule information. Most responding agencies have or are in the pro- cess of implementing or planning real-time information at bus stops. â¢ Lessons learned emphasized ongoing external communications that begin prior to a major bus stop improvement project, partnerships to facilitate a clear understanding of each agencyâs priorities and requirements, and a multidisci- plinary cross-department approach within the agency. The case examples support these findings and identify added themes: â¢ Support from leadership is crucial. â¢ Invest the time to make sure that agency staff understands the main principles of the bus stop program. â¢ Communicate to cities that the transit agency can be a great partner. It is important to highlight the benefits that the community as a whole receives from the development of better bus stops. The transit agency can also be a great funding partner. â¢ Provide sufficient information at bus stops. Electronic information may be the wave of the future, but riders continue to value schedule information and a route map. â¢ Create your own bus stop policy and follow it. â¢ If requested to add a stop, do so thoughtfully. If you are not sure whether to put in a bus stop, do not. â¢ The process of improving bus stops creates a positive, self-sustaining cycle. As the transit agency does more to make bus stops a community asset, the communities become more responsive.
5 FIGURE 3 Bus stop example at the other end of the scale. This synthesis explores the following topics: 1. Current dimensional needs for bus stops, including maneuvering distances and multiple berths at stops 2. Facilitation of safe pedestrian and bicycle access 3. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and considerations 4. Cooperation between the transit operator and the agency responsible for the bus stop 5. Passenger information needs at bus stops (way-find- ing, real-time, etc.) 6. Current practice regarding curb cuts (defined as driveways, not pedestrian ramps) and bus stops 7. Funding options 8. Passenger amenities (shelters, street furniture, light- ing, etc.) 9. Bus stops in city, suburban, and rural environments. Results of a web-based survey of a cross-section of transit agencies in North America document current issues and prac- tices concerning bus stop size, location, and design. The sur- CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION PROJECT BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES The location and design of bus stops are critically important elements for efficient bus services. Current and past research efforts provide useful information on this subject, but these reports are often written from a traffic engineerâs perspec- tive, and some are dated. While the standard dimensions for bus stops have remained largely unchanged for decades, guidelines do not always recognize that front-mounted bike racks increase bus length and maneuvering space needs (side-mounted racks require more sidewalk space), nor do they necessarily reflect operation of 45-ft coaches and 60- to 62-ft articulated buses, current street design, and current operating practices. Bus stop quality ranges from poor (Figure 2) to excel- lent (Figure 3). It is fair to say that most stops fall some- where in the middle. The location, size, and design of bus stops have far-reaching impacts on customers and on bus transit operation in areas such as safety, acces- sibility, convenience, and attractiveness. The purpose of this synthesis is to describe major issues and successful approaches that address on-street bus stops from both the transit agencyâs and the customerâs perspective. It documents key barriers to providing better bus stops, and how transit agencies have overcome these barriers. The study identifies successful strategies that achieve the agencyâs goals. FIGURE 2 Bus stop example at one end of the scale.
6 TECHNICAL APPROACH The approach to this synthesis included 1. A literature review, aided by a TRID (Transportation Research Information Database) search using several different keywords; 2. A survey of 48 transit agencies, described in the fol- lowing paragraphs; and 3. Telephone interviews with six agencies selected as case examples. The survey on actions taken to improve on-street bus stops was designed to solicit information on all aspects of stop size, design, and location, including pedestrian access, ame- nities, and responsibilities and coordination. Respondents reported challenges, evaluated the success of actions taken, and reported lessons learned. Once finalized by the panel, the survey was posted and pretested. The pretest resulted in minor changes to survey structure, logic, and flow. vey includes transit agency assessments of factors contributing to the success or failure of various strategies to improve on- street bus stops. This synthesis also describes lessons learned and presents guidance for transit agencies and communities. The synthesis includes a review of the relevant literature in the field. The literature review summarizes major stud- ies as well as reports looking at specific aspects of bus stop location and design in specific places. Many transit agencies have prepared bus stop design guidelines. These have not been included in the literature review because (1) there are so many of them and (2) the availability of the guidelines varies by agency. Bus stop design guidelines are referenced, with a few examples, in the survey results in chapter three and in the case examples in chapter five. Detailed case examples based on interviews with key personnel at selected agencies are an important element of this synthesis. The case examples profile innovative and successful practices. The concluding chapter reports lessons learned, identifies gaps in information and knowledge, and summarizes emerging research needs. FIGURE 4 Survey respondents and case examples. Source: Survey results and case examples.
7 Forty-eight completed surveys were received from the 60 agencies in the sample, a response rate of 80%. The 48 agen- cies range in size from 12 to more than 3,000 buses operating during peak periods. Table 1 presents the distribution of responding agencies by size of their operation. Almost 60% of all responding agencies operate between 250 and 999 vehicles during peak service. TABLE 1 TRANSIT AGENCIES BY SIZE No. Vehicles Operated in Maximum Service No. Agencies Responding % Agencies Responding Fewer than 250 20 42 250 to 999 20 42 1,000 or more 8 17 Total agencies responding 48 100 Sources: National Transit Database 2011 data, survey results. Note: Percentages do not add to 100% due to rounding. Figure 4 presents the distribution of survey respondents across the United States and Canada. Case example loca- tions are also indicated in Figure 4. ORGANIZATION OF THIS REPORT Subsequent chapters are organized as follows. Chapter two summarizes the findings of the literature review. Chapter three, the first of two chapters to present the survey results, examines bus stop types, design, and location, pedestrian access, passenger information and amenities, curb cuts/ driveways, bus pads, ADA considerations, and challenges. Chapter four discusses the responding agenciesâ assessment of actions taken. This chapter describes agency assessment of the success of efforts to provide better on-street stops, benefits and drawbacks, potential improvements, and lessons learned. Chapter five gives detailed findings from each of the six case examples. The selection process for case examples had several criteria: (1) include transit agencies of various sizes in different parts of North America; (2) include agencies that have taken different approaches to bus stop location and design; and (3) include agencies that provided detailed sur- vey responses and interesting observations. Chapter six summarizes the findings, presents conclu- sions from this synthesis project, and offers areas for pos- sible future study.