Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
1 Bus network redesigns have been a major trend in public transit over the past several years, in part due to the availability of much better data to use for planning purposes and the recognition that the bus can play a big role in improving mobility. While public transit providers have long altered their networks as a response to changing rider needs, the most important and significant distinction when identifying a bus network redesign is that the redesign consists of an analysis of the fixed route bus network as an entire system, not just the analysis of one or a few routes, or even specific corridors. In the past few years, with the rise in app-based transportation network companies (TNCs) and microtransit providers, bus network redesigns have begun to consider how these modes can complement bus service. This reportâa follow on to TCRP Synthesis 140: Comprehensive Bus Network Redesignsâ attempts to dig deeper into the details of conducting a bus network redesign, leveraging many interviews with representatives of transit agencies of all sizes across the country that are currently conducting or have recently conducted a bus network redesign. It also considers the impact of new mobility that was touched on in the synthesis. This report has two major sections. Section 1âChapters 1 through 6âis the research report on bus network redesign and new mobility. Section 2âChapter 7 and Chapter 8âcontains the following resources: (1) case studies of bus network redesigns at four transit agencies, and (2) toolkits to help transit agencies and stakeholders plan and implement bus network redesign, supporting bus as a mode of choice as part of a bus network redesign, and working with the private sector for the new mobility components of a bus network redesign. An appendix containing the bank of questions used during the interviews is also included. The report provides a range of guidance to help public transit agencies and other public entities with all aspects of bus network redesigns. These include the following: â¢ Service planning and associated tasks at a large scale. The approach to service plan- ning and related tasks on a large scale, such as a bus network redesign, requires addi- tional elements that are not necessarily as important on smaller service planning tasks. These include setting overall goals and objectives at the outset, following set service design guidelines, and developing and evaluating alternative networks. â¢ Bus network redesign implementation. Bringing large-scale changes to bus services in a city or region, often all at once, requires a detailed approach to everything from sched- uling, to bus stop signage, to public education. â¢ New mobility integration into bus network redesigns. Evaluating the use of new mobility solutions into bus network redesign planning is an approach that has not yet been widely S U M M A R Y Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future
2 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future adopted. However, partnering with the private sectorâor planning toâcan address travel needs identified during the redesign planning process that may not be best served by fixed route transit. â¢ Ancillary improvements to complement bus network redesign. Effective bus network redesign is supported and bolstered by capital improvements that make the buses more efficient, such as bus lanes, Transit Signal Priority (TSP), and limited stops; passenger facilities, such as improved bus stop signage, transit centers, and amenities; and operating facilities, such as improved layover locations. Transit agencies of all sizes might consider a bus network redesign even if they have already conducted one in the past several years, particularly in light of new travel patterns and demands that may emerge in the years following the 2020 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. With the widely available data on transit usage patterns and the flexibility that bus service offers, maximizing the impact of a regionâs bus network can be a win-win proposition for the transit agency, the riders, and the community. The reportâs findings draw on several sources. In addition to the survey results from TCRP Synthesis 140, this report draws on survey results from TCRP Research Report 204: Partner- ships Between Transit Agencies and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) (Curtis et al. 2019); and TCRP Synthesis 141: Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice (Volinski 2019). The research also draws on the extensive in-depth interviews with transit agency representatives as well as existing literature. Key findings from this research reflect policies and programs that were in place prior to the emergence of COVID-19. While the report was being finalized in spring 2020, an effort was made to include information regarding short-term effects of the virus on transit agencies. The long-term effects of COVID-19 on transit are not yet known. Key findings from this research include the following: 1. Transit agencies see bus network redesigns as a way to implement better bus service, address recent changes in their service or their region, and pass through a variety of improvements under one umbrella. â Even in regions with extensive rail (or other types of fixed guideway) networks, buses carry a significant percentage of transit trips, and changing the bus network has major impacts. â Bus network redesigns are seen as a way to bring wholesale change to the transit agencyâs offerings. While labor and resource intensive, making many changes at once streamlines work that would have been done over several projects and also makes changes more palatable to the public. While people may not be happy with all the changes, they can at least feel like the changes are not just impacting them, but rather are for the benefit of the entire region. This also makes it easier for the transit agency when the time comes for public hearings before implementation. â Transit agencies are tying together a variety of improvements under the umbrella of a redesign. These include implementing high-frequency corridors with bus-priority treatments, bus stop optimization, new and expanded transit centers, and even new branding, and online and print materials. Most of these improvements are directly tied to supporting the service plan developed for the bus network redesign, but other, only peripherally related items are also sometimes included. 2. Bus network redesigns should be framed by strong decisionmaking processes and leadership guidance. â Most successfully planned bus network redesigns have strong support and leadership from someone in a senior position, such as the transit agency chief executive officer (CEO) or an influential board member. This high-level backing and guidance are key
Summary 3 to buy-in across internal departments, cooperation with stakeholders and the local jurisdictions, and a face of support and leadership (i.e., a âchampionâ of the redesign) for the public. 3. Transit agencies should establish parameters and goals early on for bus network redesigns to set expectations for stakeholders, the board, and the public. â Without clearly stated goals for a bus network redesign, the focus can vary even across an organization, with some departments aiming toward maximizing operational efficiency, some on maximizing accessibility, and some on revenue generation. It is important to have well-articulated and coordinated goals so that everyone is working toward the same goals for the bus network redesign. â Parameters for changes to the system should be developed and applied at all phases of the decisionmaking process so that the process has a strong reference point and keeps the plan on track to meet its targets and objectives. These targets and param- eters can be related to, for example, planning for a cost-neutral operating plan, a plan to increase bus operations, or a plan that is associated with a priority bus network to which the rest of the service should feed. â While most transit agencies use bus network redesigns to develop a system that better serves the needs of the riders within their current operating budgets, even transit agencies that had additional money to spend often develop a cost-neutral plan to encourage the discussion of trade-offs. 4. Bus network redesigns should be built on agreed-upon design principles, service types, and design guidelines. â Because of the breadth of changes that will be recommended through a bus network redesign, transit agencies use the occasion to review and update some of their key service planning guidance documents, including service design and service perfor- mance guidelines. This not only provides the planners with a structure under which to conduct the planning but also provides the transit agency with documented reasoning that can be used in discussions with the public and stakeholders. â Design principles to be defined early include the approach to the planning processâ such as starting from a âblank slateâ or looking at comprehensive modifications to an existing bus network; how much of the transit agencyâs resources should be devoted to high ridership services versus local coverage services; how much should the bus network redesign focus on direct trips (âone-seat ridesâ) at the expense of greater frequency; and what demographic and land-use characteristics should warrant fixed route service at all. â Service types that a transit agency may include in their bus network redesign include high-frequency/high-priority, feeder service to high-frequency and/or fixed guideway transit, and local coverage routes. â Finally, establishing design guidelinesâsuch as span, frequency, and stop spacingâ for different service types provides justification for the recommendations that the transit agency can reference during public and stakeholder input phases. 5. The importance of frequent and meaningful engagement with stakeholders and the public cannot be overstated; there is no such thing as too much outreach, engagement, and communication when planning and implementing a bus network redesign. â Getting input is crucial to developing a bus network redesign plan that will work for people and will ease the education process when planning turns to implementation. However, even with significant amounts of engagement, transit agencies should still expect challenges during implementation, namely, conducting significant outreach so that riders understand how the changes will impact their trips. â Bus network redesigns typically structure outreach to be a key element of all phases of the process, morphing over time from general input, to feedback on possible service
4 Redesigning Transit Networks for the New Mobility Future changes, to education about the changes. A common challenge that transit agencies contend with is making sure that the public understands early on that the plan is intended to move toward implementation. Sometimes the sheer volume of changes can make people think it would never be implemented, so they may hold their com- ments and not provide input until late in the process. â Transit agencies use a wide variety of strategies to engage the public, from workshops, to pop-up surveys at transit centers, to social media. While most transit agencies have relied largely on in-person engagement with some complementary online engagement including crowdsourcing sites and surveys, bus network redesigns in the future may need to pivot to emphasize virtual engagement, given the recent concerns about large gatherings. â Engaging disadvantaged and diverse populations is especially important in bus net- work redesigns. In cities that have multiple transit modes, bus tends to skew toward higher proportions of low-income and minority populations than other modes. Bus network redesigns impact all riders and potential riders, and the input that they pro- vide can be invaluable to the plan development. 6. Transit agencies are currently in the stage of piloting and experimenting with the integration of new mobility in their services; planning for new mobility has not been widely integrated into bus network redesigns. â Likely due to the relative nascence of these modes, microtransit, TNC partnerships, micromobility, and the development of mobility hubs are typically considered in parallel or as pilot efforts loosely associated with the bus network redesign. â While bus network redesign and new mobility integration is not common, most tran- sit agency representatives interviewed have or are in the process of implementing a variety of new mobility options, including general-purpose on-demand transit, TNC partnerships, and coordination with local jurisdictions on micromobility for first- mile/last-mile access to transit. A few transit agencies incorporated on-demand zones into their redesign plans, and one incorporated planning for these modes into mobility hubs for multimodal connections. â In the cases where transit agencies have implemented microtransit service, their approach to dealing with fixed routes in that area is mixed, with some replacing fixed route service with microtransit and some using it as a complementary service. â While many transit agencies are starting to offer new mobility options, many are funding them and presenting them publicly as pilot projects. Several organizations suggested that low ridership on new mobility services may be because people do not understand the service, and more important, they do not want to invest the time in understanding it if the service is likely to be removed in a few months. Appropriate marketing and discounts for rides can help counteract some of this hesitancy. 7. Equity considerations are integral to bus network redesign planning efforts. â At most transit agencies, buses carry a higher proportion of low-income, minority, and limited English proficient riders than other transit modes, therefore, changes to the bus network may have a greater impact on these populations. â Many transit agencies are incorporating additional analysis into their planning to ensure that the planning process accounts for locations of minority and low-income households; the transit agencies that conducted impact evaluations early and worked closely with these communities were better able to serve these populations and address their concerns. This goes beyond Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) analysis to also determine locations with high levels of employment in industries where low-income workers work and ensure sufficient service to connect commu- nities with healthcare and other social services.
Summary 5 â While many bus network redesigns focus on improving efficiency and providing better service on high-frequency corridors, increasing walk distances to transit can have a significant impact on people with disabilities and seniors. Bus network redesigns should also consider the needs of people with disabilities and the senior population when evaluating alternatives that require longer walks to fixed route transitânot only is fixed route transit often more appealing to this population, but it is a much less expensive trip to provide for the transit agency. â Additionally, many people with disabilities and seniors rely on paratransit service, and the service area is based on the fixed route network. Since the fixed route net- work will be changing as a result of the bus network redesign, some transit agencies that have implemented or are planning to implement bus network redesigns have grandfathered in either specific users or geographic areas to ensure continuity of paratransit service. 8. Implementation of bus network redesignsâon the operating side and with supporting capital elementsâis incredibly involved and requires participation from all parts of the transit agency, local jurisdictions, and other key stakeholders. â Intense collaboration is required throughout the transit agency and with regional part- ners to implement the major changes planned in many bus network redesigns. â At the simplest, a bus network redesign can be implemented with limited capital investment, such as new bus stop signs, new or expanded layover facilities, and additional space for transfers at existing facilities. More capital-intensive redesigns require transit agencies to work with their local jurisdictions to invest in bus-priority treatments, new and expanded passenger stops and transfer facilities, and first-mile/ last-mile improvements. â Transit agencies vary in how they deploy bus network redesigns in terms of an all- at-once change or implementing the plans over time. Deploying over time can be done for a variety of reasons, including availability of funds and resources, while an âovernightâ implementation is logistically challenging but has the benefit of getting everything done at once. â A proper launch ensures that the changes to the system are understood by the public, which therefore ensures that the system will continue to attract and retain riders. This requires extensive public education as well as educating and empowering frontline employees as ambassadors for the changes.