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30 This chapter summarizes the results of the projectâs case examples. For each completed case example, the following information is provided in narrative form: â¢ Background information about the agency and the context in which it provides or sup- ports BRT â¢ BRT services and facilities operated and/or owned by the agency â¢ Development and evolution of BRT services and facilities â¢ BRT operating strategies (including enforcement) â¢ BRT maintenance strategies â¢ Impacts of BRT services and facilities â¢ Lessons learned relevant to successfully operating and maintaining BRT services and facilities Text boxes provide the relevant agencyâs location, the name of the BRT services and number of facilities operated or owned by the agency, the agencyâs years of experience with BRT, and annual system ridership. TableÂ 4 summarizes keywords and key phrases that pertain to specific topics covered in the case examples. C H A P T E R 5 BRT Current State of Practice Case Example Keyword or Key Phrase Bu sw ay M an ag ed L an e H O V L an e Ex cl us iv e La ne Se m i-E xc lu si ve L an e BO S SB BL M ix ed T ra ffi c Co nt ra flo w Bi di re cti on al Pa rt -T im e U nd er ly in g Lo ca l S er vi ce TS P Q ue ue Ju m ps Cu rb E xt en si on s Pa in te d La ne Sh ar ed S ta ti on s/ St op sa O ff -B oa rd F ar e Co lle cti on D ed ic at ed F le et 1 X X X X X X X X X X X X X 2 X X X X X X X X X X X 3 X X X X X X X X X X 4 X X X X X X X X X X X X X 5 X X X X X X 6 X X X X X X X X Note: SBBL = shared bus-bike lane. aAlthough stations/stops might be shared, the specific loading areas (e.g., berths) at those stations/stops might not be shared. Table 4. Case example keyword summary.
BRT Current State of Practice 31Â Â Case Example 1: Capital Metro Agency/Owner: Capital Metro Location: Austin, TX Name of BRT Service: MetroRapid Number of BRT Routes/Facilities: 2 Years of BRT Experience: 7 Annual System Ridership: 10 million to 100 million Background Capital Metro is the public transit provider for the Austin region in Central Texas. The agency operates fixed-route bus, express bus, BRT, hybrid rail, shuttle, and ride-sharing services as well as a variety of demand-response transit services. The agencyâs BRT web page is https://www. capmetro.org/metrorapid/. Overview of BRT Services/Facilities Capital Metro operates two BRT routes branded as MetroRapid. FigureÂ 12 contains a map of both routes. MetroRapid Route 801 (North Lamar/South Congress) and MetroRapid Route 803 (Burnet/South Lamar) were both implemented in 2014. The routes operate in shared bus-bike lanes (SBBLs), semi-exclusive bus lanes (shared with turning automobiles), a short contraflow lane (for BRT only), and mixed traffic. MetroRapid operates mostly in public ROWs owned by the City of Austin; one BRT station is part of a transit-oriented development. MetroRapid operates with 10-minute peak headways and 15- to 20-minute off-peak headways. The service span is 5 to 12:30Â a.m. on weekdays, 6Â a.m. to midnight on Saturdays, and 6Â a.m. to 11:30Â p.m. on Sundays. Other features of the MetroRapid running ways are red-colored pavement (over asphalt) in the central business district (CBD) and red-colored concrete in the contraflow lane. Capital Metro uses turtle bumps and flex posts to separate the contraflow lane from general traffic flow. Striping separates SBBLs and semi-exclusive bus lanes from general traffic flow. MetroRapid uses the following priority treatments: â¢ TSP â¢ Bus lanes â¢ Queue jumps at several intersections â¢ Curb extensions â¢ Off-board fare collection MetroRapid stations (one of which is depicted in FigureÂ 13) are used only by Capital Metro services (including local bus, express bus, and BRT) and services contracted by Capital Metro. Where feasible, the boarding and alighting areas for MetroRapid buses are separated from those for other bus services. MetroRapid vehicles (one of which is also depicted in FigureÂ 13) are used only to provide BRT service. They are larger than the buses used to provide regular bus service and feature multidoor boarding. They do not operate in local service outside of the BRT corridors. Capital Metro is interested in moving toward having an interchangeable fleet in the future, as having a dedicated fleet can create operational challenges. The original MetroRapid funding source required dedicated, branded BRT vehicles; using those vehicles on other routes would poten- tially be confusing to riders. The dedicated vehicles also require special operator training due to their size and features. Capital Metro is considering how to retain the MetroRapid brand if the agency moves to an interchangeable fleet when it replaces its diesel fleet with an electric fleet in the future.
Lake Austin La dy B ird Lake TECH RIDGE PARMER CHINATOWN RUNDBERG MASTERSON NORTH LAMAR TRANSIT CENTER CRESTVIEW BRENTWOOD NORTH LOOP EAST TRIANGLE HYDE PARK VIC MATHIAS/ AUDITORIUM SHORES SOCO OLTORF ST EDWARDâS ST ELMO LITTLE TEXAS PLEASANT HILL SLAUGHTER SOUTHPARK MEADOWS SOUTH CONGRESS TRANSIT CENTER CAPITOL MUSEUM UT/DEAN KEETON 31ST STREET UT/WEST MALL AUSTIN HISTORY CENTER REPUBLIC SQUARE NB Lavaca at 17th SB Guadalupe at 17th NB Lavaca at 13th SB Guadalupe at 12th NB Lavaca at 8th SB Guadalupe at 8th NB Lavaca at 4th SB Guadalupe at 4th DOMAIN UT RESEARCH CAMPUS CROSSROADS RUTLAND NORTHCROSS JUSTIN ALLANDALE NORTH LOOP ROSEDALE SUNSHINE BARTON SPRINGS LAMAR SQUARE OLTORF WEST BLUEBONNET BRODIE OAKS BROKEN SPOKE WESTGATE SEAHOLM / CENTRAL LIBRARY WEST 38TH OHLEN 35 35 35 35 183 183 183 183290 290 290 1 71 C ongress A ve M oPac M oPac MLK Blvd 12th St 11th St 13th St Koenig Ln Airport Blvd 38th St 24th St Cesar Chavez St Lightsey Rd Stassney Ln William Cannon Dr Slaughter Ln Ben White Blvd Oltorf St Barton Springs Rd Monroe St S 1st St Braker Ln Braker Ln Duval Rd Research Blvd Research Blvd Kramer Ln Parmer Ln Rundberg Ln Esperanza Crossing Masterson Pass Justin Ln Anderson Ln Ohl en R d RIVERSIDE DR M enchaca Rd C O N G R ESS SO U T H SO U TH CO N G RESS N O R T H LA M A R N O R T H LA M A R LA M A R W 49TH SO U TH LA M AR BU RN ET CESAR CHAVEZ The Domain JJ Pickle Research Campus ACC Rio Grande City Hall Seton Hospital Central Market Northcross Shopping Center Downtown Austin Austin Convention Center Auditorium Shores/ Palmer Events Ctr Westgate Mall Southpark Meadows Shopping Center St Edwardâs University SoCo District Capitol Complex Blanton Museum of Art University of Texas Bullock Texas State History Museum MetroRapid Station MetroRapid 801 North Lamar/South Congress MetroRapid Station and Transfer Point Park & Ride Lot MetroRail Connection MetroRapid 803 Burnet/South Lamar SCHEMATIC MAP NOT TO SCALELEGEND 13 12 0 5 n g x 1 14 shared stations FAIRFIELD G U A D A LU PE BRAKER/STADIUM Q2 Stadium Source: Capital Metro, https://www.capmetro.org/docs/default-source/riders-guide-docs/our-servicesdocs/metrorapid_ 801systemfinal_bothlines_june2021.pdf?sfvrsn=351f624c_2. Figure 12. MetroRapid route map.
BRT Current State of Practice 33Â Â e underlying local service in each MetroRapid corridor uses approximately 90% of the same alignment as MetroRapid; the ends of the local routes do not serve the same end points as MetroRapid. Other local routes overlap the MetroRapid routes to a lesser extent. When MetroRapid was implemented, the routing and schedules of local and express bus routes in the corridor were modied. Route 801 replaced the Route 101 limited-stop service. Route 1 continued as an underlying local route but operated at 30-minute headways instead of 10-minute headways. Community response resulted in Capital Metro eventually reducing the Route 1 headway to 20Â minutes to be more in-line with the headway at which it previously operated. e Route 3 service that underlies Route 803 operated at headways of 20 to 25 minutes before BRT implementation of Route 803, and this was increased to 30-minute headways aer implementation of Route 803. Express bus services were modied to make use of the bus lanes implemented for MetroRapid. Development and Evolution of BRT Services/Facilities Bus service in the CBD previously operated on Congress Avenue, which is a designated historical âcapitol viewâ corridor. ere was no signal progression that supported bus move- ments, and buses stopped every block. In addition, there was limited space to accommodate bus stops and boarding riders. Capital Metro knew that dedicated transit corridors would be needed at some point in the future to improve transit travel times, so a team of agency sta, city sta, and consultants developed a concept in which the one-way couplet consisting of Lavaca Street and Guadalupe Street would function as a transit corridor. To qualify for federal grants, the transit corridor needed dedicated bus lanes, and implementing BRT was a way to frame the dedicated bus lanes project. e team recognized that the corridor would not meet minimum buses per hour targetsânecessary to justify taking on-street parkingâwith BRT alone, so the bus lanes would have to serve other bus routes as well. Capital Metro sta reported that one of the initial challenges with the project was guring out how to accommodate bicyclists and right-turning vehicles. Although Capital Metro and the city shared the same vision for the corridor, the city did not want to restrict right turns and wanted to accommodate bicycles in the bus lanes. In addition, the city did not want to o o o tt o o o o o o tt o o o o o o o o ti Figure 13. MetroRapid station and vehicle.
34 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice implement TSP in the CBD because of its impacts on coordination of the downtown signal system, so BRT needed to rely on queue jumps and bus lanes instead. Priority treatments had to be figured out on a block-by-block basis, with consideration of access to and from alleys and off-street parking facilities. Capital Metro originally wanted MetroRapid stations to be separate from stops serving local and express routesâideally, located downstream of local and express routesâbut it was difficult to achieve this because it required block-by-block negotiations with property owners to resolve issues such as property access and accommodation of valet parking. These property owners included private property owners, the city of Austin, the state of Texas, churches, and the University of Texas. Capital Metro staff credit the cityâs support of BRT implementation with facilitating the negotiations and helping to develop solutions. The cityâs support included establishing BRT implementation as a priority, working with Capital Metroâs Speed & Reliability Group, making presentations to stakeholders and the public, and pushing forward discussions with stakeholders. Discussions focused on how BRT and associated infrastructure improve- ments would increase passenger throughput on a per-lane basisâfocusing on moving people rather than moving vehicles. Maximizing the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians was also critical in making decisions about how to design and operate BRT. Capital Metro has good relationships with all of the stakeholders in the corridor and recognizes that each stakeholder is trying to look out for the best interests of their community or constitu- ency. Both Capital Metro and the city have dedicated staff and funding to coordinating transit speed and reliability projects. Operating Strategies Capital Metro stages âQ busesâ to supplement BRT service if a bus needs to be introduced on the route to maintain headways. If necessary, and as a last resort, Capital Metro will use regular buses for this purpose. Capital Metro implemented a contraflow segment on Guadalupe Street to reduce north- bound bus delays at a location where the bus lanes transition to mixed-traffic operation near the University of Texas. TSP was active at the intersection of Lavaca Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, but congestion levels were too high for TSP to provide a benefit. Implement- ing the contraflow segment on Guadalupe Street allowed buses to bypass the Lavaca Street/ Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard traffic signal. It took time and city leadership to work out how the contraflow lane would be accessed and how it would operate. Capital Metro and the city are continuing to refine operations of the contraflow segment. When the bus lanes were first implemented, the Austin Police Department (APD) pulled over drivers who violated bus lane restrictions to make them aware of the signs and pave- ment markings and educate them about how the bus lanes work. Capital Metro also used public announcements to educate the public about how the bus lanes work. Currently, APD will monitor bus lane compliance at Capital Metroâs request, and citations are only issued for flagrant violations of the bus lane restrictions, as it is important to maintain flow in the bus lanes to the extent possible. On-time performanceâor headway adherence in the case of MetroRapidâis monitored in real time for all Capital Metro services. This monitoring started with MetroRapid. Capital Metro hired new staff (including dispatchers and supervisors) and acquired new software for the purpose of monitoring MetroRapid service. Systemwide monitoring was later made possible by implementation of an Operations Control Center (depicted in FigureÂ 14) that is integrated with other transportation modes.
BRT Current State of Practice 35Â Â MetroRapid service was rst implemented with solid white lines separating the bus lanes from general trac lanes and pavement markings and overhead signs conveying a âBus Onlyâ message. In 2019, Capital Metro commenced testing red paint on the bus lanes in an eort to help automobile drivers more easily recognize if they are in the bus lane or not, and testing showed immediate deterioration in the paint. Research and further testing identied a more robust material that was applied in 2020 and which has performed well with respect to main- taining color and durability. Red paint application is cost-prohibitive in some locations, and therefore, Capital Metro uses it sparingly. Maintenance Strategies Capital Metro relies on interagency agreements to address maintenance of transit infra- structure. e provisions in these agreements vary depending on the aected municipality. Some MetroRapid agreements include shared costing for maintenance. Impacts of BRT Services/Facilities e MetroRapid routes typically opened with up to 20% travel time savings compared to the transit services they replaced. is was due to factors such as the priority treatments (e.g., the bus lanes and queue jumps), wider stop spacing for BRT, and implementation of o-board fare collection and all-door boarding to reduce boarding times. However, there is some impre- cision in estimating the amount of travel savings because the new routes did not replace routes on exactly the same alignments. It is dicult to allocate the travel time savings across dierent BRT service components, as many of those components were implemented as a package. e MetroRapid routes are typically more reliable than the service congurations they replaced. Reliability has continued to improve since BRT implementation due to factors such as ongoing schedule adjustments, coordination with the city regarding operationally problematic intersections, implementation of the contraow lane, the increased level of experience of bus operators, and implementation of the Operations Control Center. Route 801 initially saw a decrease in corridor ridership compared to previous ridership levels on Routes 1 and 101 due to introduction of a premium fare for MetroRapid, no free o o tio ti Figure 14. Capital Metro Operations Control Center.
36 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice transfers for transferring to MetroRapid, increase in headways on Route 1, and changes to feeder bus routes. Capital Metro eliminated the premium fare in 2017 and saw an immediate increase in ridership (approximately 25%). When MetroRapid headways were reduced from between 12 and 15Â minutes to 10 minutes, ridership grew an additional 10%. In JuneÂ 2018, Capital Metro completed a redesign of the entire transit system, which resulted in improved network efficiencies, route directness, and service frequencies and expanded service spans, and this contributed to more use of MetroRapid. From JuneÂ 2018 to March 2020, MetroRapid was experiencing 20% annual increases in ridership. It should be noted that improvements such as the queue jumps and bus lanes also affected high-volume non-BRT routes, so the rider- ship benefits of those improvements show up throughout the system. MetroRapid BRT routes have some of the highest operating costs in the Capital Metro system because they provide more service than other corridors. Capital Metro uses a standard cost per service hour across the entire network, so a route with 10,000 service hours automatically is more expensive to operate than one with 9,500 service hours. Customer satisfaction is higher on the BRT routes than on other routes in the system. Branding, reliability, and frequency are cited by riders as contributing to the higher level of satisfaction. The higher level of satisfaction has also been evident in increased BRT ridership in the years after opening. Lessons Learned Capital Metro recommends agencies spare no expense getting what they need for their BRT service to be effective. Some of the original Route 801 and 803 stations were implemented in locations where Capital Metro did not want them because the projects could not afford to install a culvert or close a driveway at the time and there was a lot of pressure to complete the projects on time and on budget. Now, Capital Metro sees that it would have been worth installing the culvert or closing the driveway to get a far-side bus stop. Capital Metro also thinks that the agency should have built more near-level stops at the outset. It was hard to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of such options at the beginning of the BRT projects, but the same cost pressures (both funding and staffing) exist now. Sometimes trying to stay within the original budget by compromising on needed service features results in a more expensive project later. At the same time, there is no ideal moment to address some project needs, according to the agency. You have to make a decision and move forward so that you can deliver the service and get people moving. Implementing a âperfectâ BRT system is not possible. You have to work within the existing built environment, and you have to consider available time, staffing, and funding when deciding if it is worthwhile to perfect one of 80 stops. Capital Metro also recommends the following: â¢ Having excellent BRT project managers helps deliver quality BRT projects. â¢ Agencies that operate BRT need a team that is dedicated to operating and maintaining the service. In the case of MetroRapid, Capital Metro had to manage a dedicated fleet and unique stations as well as deliver frequency-based service instead of the schedule-based service delivered by other routes. â¢ Agencies that want to implement BRT have to spend time early on figuring out the details of how the service will be operated and maintained. They cannot postpone figuring out those details. For future BRT projects, Capital Metro intends to push for far-side stops. The agency also wants to implement near-level boarding wherever possible, although the agency recognizes that it can be challenging to achieve near-level boarding at some locations because of the design
BRT Current State of Practice 37Â Â requirements of the cityâs shared-use paths. Capital Metro also wants to use bus stop founda- tions/pads that are bolted down instead of foundations with massive footings, as the bolted- down pads have less impact on utilities and could be moved if needed. Case Example 2: King County Metro Agency/Owner: King County Metro Location: King County, WA Name of BRT Service: RapidRide Number of BRT Routes/Facilities: 6 Years of BRT Experience: 11 Annual System Ridership: 100 million to 1 billion Background King County Metro is the public transit provider for King County, WA, which includes the Seattle region. The agency operates fixed-route bus, express bus, BRT, LRT, streetcar, water taxi, and ride-sharing services as well as a variety of demand-response transit services. The agencyâs BRT web page is https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/travel-options/ bus/rapidride.aspx. Overview of BRT Services/Facilities King County Metro operates six routes in the RapidRide BRT system: the A, B, C, D, E, and F Lines, which constitute RapidRide Phase 1. For the synthesis study, King County Metro provided detailed information for the RapidRide A Line, which was the first RapidRide route and was implemented in 2010. FigureÂ 15 contains an A Line route map; FigureÂ 16 provides a service summary for the A Line. The A Line runs on a state highway, Pacific Highway, which is maintained by local governments via interlocal agreements with the state. The A Line running way is a mix of semi-exclusive bus lanes, mixed-traffic operation, and arterial HOV lanes. It features red pavement in some locations. Bus lanes are separated from general traffic lanes with striping. The A Line uses the following priority treatments: â¢ TSP â¢ Bus lanes â¢ Queue jumps â¢ Bypass lanes â¢ Curb extensions â¢ Off-board fare collection RapidRide stations are shared with other transit services. RapidRide vehicles feature multi- door boarding. When the A Line was implemented, existing local service in the corridor was discontinued. Development and Evolution of BRT Services/Facilities The A Line was selected as the first RapidRide line because it served the south portion of King Countyâa priority area for transportation equity improvementsâand it connected cities in the south portion of the county to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Sound Transit Link. Arterial HOV lanes were already present on Pacific Highway; these HOV lanes were completed in the early 2000s. The A Line introduced the concept of a BAT lane to the corridor. The A Line was implemented in conjunction with highway widening projects and traffic signal upgrade projects. At this time, 87% of the corridor features a semi-exclusive (BAT or HOV) lane.
38 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice Source: King County Metro, https://kingcounty.gov/~/media/depts/metro/maps/route/03192022/large/m671.jpg? version=2. Figure 15. RapidRide A Line route map.
BRT Current State of Practice 39Â Â The state prefers to have local governments maintain state roadways and gives those local governments a lot of leeway in making traffic control decisions. Accordingly, when King County Metro plans a new RapidRide route, the agency must obtain affected local governmentsâ buy-in for the project. This buy-in is represented by a support letter that King County Metro takes to the state for ultimate approval. The state does not compel a specific design standard for transit infrastructure like some states do. King County Metro has a toolbox that assists staff in determining the priority treatment(s) that should be used in a given location. The A Lineâs semi-exclusive bus lanes, queue jumps, and bypass lanes were implemented based on opportunities presented by the existing roadway. Some of the semi-exclusive bus lanes are part-time facilities. When not reserved for transit vehicles, the lanes are used for on-street parking. Although King County Metro wanted more exclusivity for buses in such locations, local needs for parking were significant. Source: King County Metro, https://kingcounty.gov/~/media/depts/metro/schedules/pdf/03202021/ rt-a-line.pdf. Figure 16. RapidRide A Line service summary.
40 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice King County has a large TSP system that will be updated to include 350 to 400 traffic signals and transitioned to a decentralized architecture as individual jurisdictionsâ systems are available for updates over the next 3 to 5Â years. Currently, the region is characterized by a mix of different kinds of traffic signal controllers, and King County Metro cannot always obtain TSP where it is wanted. Accordingly, the agency has to be flexible in designing new RapidRide routes. King County Metro collects a large amount of onboard data that help agency staff identify locations where transit service is not competitive with single-occupant vehicle travel. Budgets are not unlimited, and the onboard data help the agency make judicious decisions about service investments. When looking at alternative alignments for a new RapidRide corridor, the agency considers the likely reliability of RapidRide service along each alignment and whether the align- ment can support future RapidRide service expansion. King County Metro does not operate underlying local bus service in RapidRide corridors (except for short stretches where local routes overlap RapidRide routes). The agencyâs service design guidelines would not facilitate improvements to local bus routes that fully share a corridor with RapidRide, so, over time, the underlying routes would end up not operating as well as needed. In cases where King County Metro has to choose whether to deviate a RapidRide route off the primary corridor, the agency considers if the destinations served by the deviation could be served by other routes. If not, the agency deviates, as increasing service coverage and access are higher priorities than increasing transit speed. Operating Strategies The A Line shares running way with other modes as follows: â¢ Approximately 30% is shared with general automobile traffic. â¢ Approximately 95% is shared with carpools, vanpools, and private buses and shuttles. â¢ Approximately 70% is shared with taxis, transportation network companies (TNCs), and delivery vehicles. â¢ Approximately 50% is shared with bicyclists, typically in the form of a mixed-traffic curb lane with shared lane marking. The A Line does not experience significant issues with general traffic violating bus lane restrictions because there is enough capacity in the corridor for both the A Line and general traffic, but RapidRide routes in more congested corridors see a lower level of general traffic compliance with bus lane restrictions. Starting in 2015, King County Metro partnered with the city of Seattle to test using red-painted pavement as a means of improving compliance with running way restrictions. Based on positive outcomes of those tests, as reported by bus operators, red paint has been used in the RapidRide running way in other jurisdictions in the county, where the local government agrees to maintain the paint. King County Metro does not use red thermoplastic outside of Seattle because many of the smaller local governments are not able to maintain it. The paradigm under which King County Metro has operated RapidRide to date is âupgraded bus service,â not âLRT with a bus.â Accordingly, RapidRide is operated similarly to how the agency operates other bus services, with the key difference being accounting for RapidRideâs reduced number of stops and staffâs increased access to real-time RapidRide service informa- tion. (Having access to real-time service information allowed the agency to tighten up schedules when the B Line was implemented.) Upcoming implementation of Advanced Service Manage- ment (ASM) will shift RapidRide operations to headway-based management, which will require dedicated staff and new monitoring tools. ASM is likely to mean that managing RapidRide
BRT Current State of Practice 41Â Â operations will be more labor intensive, but potential benefits include reducing layover space needs and being able to provide service with a smaller fleet. Although ASM will be implemented first with the A Line and F Line, it will eventually be deployed systemwide. Maintenance Strategies King County Metro relies on interlocal agreements to maintain RapidRide running ways (e.g., bus lane striping); the terms of these agreements vary among individual local govern- ments. Some of the agreements include sharing of maintenance costs. Impacts of BRT Services/Facilities Agency staff report that RapidRide lines have typically opened with up to 20% travel time savings over the local bus routes that were replaced. However, most of the RapidRide routes did not replace local routes running on precisely the same alignment, so before-and-after travel time comparisons are not precise. Before-and-after travel time data are also influenced by travel time savings resulting from increased stop spacing. (Local bus stops typically have 1â4-mile stop spacing, whereas RapidRide stations are typically spaced 1â3 to 1â2Â mile apart.) Travel time data are further influenced by RapidRideâs faster boarding times (achieved via off-board fare collec- tion and multidoor boardings). Thus, travel time savings associated with RapidRide implemen- tation result from more than just use of TSP, queue jumps, and semi-exclusive bus lanes. RapidRide routes typically have better on-time performance than the local bus routes they replaced. However, King County Metro focuses performance data collection on travel time and ridership measures rather than reliability, as the agency considers minimizing travel time and maximizing ridership to be the most important RapidRide goals. With respect to ridership and productivity, agency staff report that implementation of RapidRide routes tends to lead to general increases in ridership in the RapidRide corridors. BRT-style improvements, such as queue jumps, have also been applied to high-volume, non- BRT routes, so the ridership and productivity benefits of those investments tend to manifest throughout the system. RapidRide routes feature some of the highest operating costs in the system, as they provide more transit service than is available in other corridors. King County Metro uses a standard operating cost per service hour across the entire network, so a route with 10,000 service hours needed (e.g., a RapidRide route) will automatically be more expensive to operate than one that needs 9,500 service hours (e.g., a local bus route). RapidRide operating costs also include the costs of managing off-board fare collection, so, whereas a 60-foot hybrid bus used on local routes might operate at $189/platform hour, a RapidRide bus might operate at $194/platform hour. Agency staff report that customer satisfaction is higher for RapidRide routes than for local routes. Customers cite branding elements, increased reliability, and increased service frequency as contributors to the higher level of satisfaction. According to agency staff, higher satisfaction is also evident in increased ridership in the years after RapidRide opening. Lessons Learned Agency staff reported that one of the lessons learned from implementing the A Line was that each RapidRide route should be complete (i.e., have all features in place) before the route is opened. Except for the F Line, all subsequent RapidRide lines were opened as originally planned and scheduled. Accomplishing this required creating new contracting mechanisms designed to meet the implementation deadlines.
42 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice Agency sta advise the following: â¢ Plan and design future BRT routes using what you have learned from BRT routes you have already implemented. As each RapidRide route was planned and designed, agency sta made decisions based on which of the RapidRide routes developed up to that point were most eective with respect to impacts on travel time and ridership. â¢ Brand BRT eectively. Although FTA funding for the RapidRide projects required branding, King County Metro sees branding as part of its service philosophy. â Maintain branding (e.g., consistently assign BRT-branded buses to BRT routes). RapidRide branding details have evolved over time. For example, RapidRide service was introduced with 60-foot buses with a distinct nose cone, but over time the nose cone has been phased out to simplify maintenance and the rest of the eet has been upgraded such that 60-foot buses operate on other routes as well. (One of these buses is depicted in FigureÂ 17.) Onboard Wi-Fi was originally a feature of RapidRide buses only; now it is used on other buses. Based on rider surveys, a key branding element has been used to establish the identity of RapidRide and has been sustained over time: red-colored buses. e survey data show that the styling and features of RapidRide buses are less important than their color, and this is an important discovery for the agency because it means that premium bus service does not necessarily need to come at a premium price. â Reinforce branding. King County Metro introduces new concepts on RapidRide rst to reinforce that RapidRide is the âBest of Metro.â For example, the agencyâs 2021â2022 initiative to have fare readers at all bus doors, not just the front door, will be implemented on RapidRide rst and then spread to the rest of the system. Agency sta noted that local politicians like to spend capital funds on innovation, so RapidRide readily receives funding for such projects. â Be bold. Agency sta report that red-painted buses have come to represent RapidRide over the years in part because red is an attention-grabbing color. Green- and blue-painted buses would not likely have the same impact, as they would be similar in color to the rest of the eet. â¢ Avoid having a âmicro eetâ if possible. Having a wide range of bus designs and manufac- turers in the eet increases maintenance complexity and maintenance budgets. However, sometimes having a micro eet of specialized buses is necessary. For example, King County Metroâs future G Line route will feature buses with le-side doors. Although these buses will o o o tt o o o o tio Figure 17. RapidRide vehicle.
BRT Current State of Practice 43Â Â require special maintenance and the operators of these buses will require additional training, the left-side doors will allow the G Line to operate alongside a median and avoid the negative impacts of outside-lane congestion. The agency determined that the operational and safety benefits of median operation (e.g., a 40%â50% reduction in travel times) outweighed the adverse impacts on vehicle maintenance. â¢ Maintain healthy partner relationships. Maintaining healthy relationships with partners after BRT implementation helps maintain the investments that have been made in BRT. If a local government retimes a signal 4 years after BRT implementation and removes TSP functionality without realizing its significance, BRT service will be impacted. â¢ Establish interlocal agreements covering BRT operations and maintenance. Such agreements could ensure that the local jurisdiction that controls signal timing will not degrade the TSP system 6 months after the BRT project is implemented. â¢ Do not let the BRT system stagnate. King County Metro is currently struggling with the A Line being more than 10Â years old and having components that are already aged and/or under- sized; the community and the agencyâs partners are asking for refreshed A Line facilities. The agency has discovered that one means of addressing this is making budget requests for Phase 1 RapidRide route reinvestment as part of Phase 2 expansion. With the Phase 2 expansion, the agency is designing Phase 2 routes such that each will be sized for at least 10Â years of operation without a need for further investment during that time. Agency staff are looking at Phase 2 overall as a 50-year BRT plan. â¢ Be realistic about long-term investment needs. If a transit agency knows that it will not have significant capital funds to upgrade a new BRT route after the route has been operating for several years, the agency needs to plan for a long BRT life cycle at the beginning of the project. This might increase the initial cost of the project. Also, if the agency installs unique BRT infrastructure (such as shelters that do not look like the other shelters in the system), long-term planning should recognize that the maintenance costs, schedules, and needs for the unique features may differ from what is needed to maintain the standard infrastructure. â¢ Consider carefully whether a new BRT service should use electric vehicles. Many transit agencies are receiving political pressure to electrify their fleets, and some might consider using a new BRT service as their first foray into electric vehicles; however, electric vehicles might not be the best choice for a new BRT service. RapidRide routes tend to have long lengths and provide a lot of service, and they would be expensive to electrify because of concerns about charging (e.g., where charging infrastructure would be located) and electrification failures. Other factors to consider are weather impacts and the agencyâs ability to integrate electric vehicles into the existing fleet. Case Example 3: Lane Transit District Agency/Owner: LTD Location: Eugene, OR Name of BRT Service: Emerald Express (EmX) Number of BRT Routes/Facilities: 3 Years of BRT Experience: 14 Annual System Ridership: 10 million to 100 million Background LTD is the public transit provider in Lane County, OR, which includes the cities of Spring- field and Eugene. The agency operates fixed-route bus, express bus, BRT, a complementary paratransit service, and ride-sharing services. The agencyâs BRT web page is https://www.ltd.org/ system-map/route_103.
44 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice Overview of BRT Services/Facilities LTDâs existing Emerald Express (EmX) BRT system is depicted in FigureÂ 18. The system has been implemented in three phases. The first phase (Franklin) was implemented in 2007. The second phase (Gateway) followed in 2011. The third phase (West Eugene) was implemented in 2017. LTD operates EmX. The ROW in which EmX runs is owned by the local cities (one of which was in the process of acquiring some of the ROW from the state of Oregon at the time). Future EmX corridors are currently in the planning phase. EmX running ways are a mix of at-grade busways (some segments of which are located in or adjacent to medians), exclusive bus lanes, semi-exclusive bus lanes, bidirectional lanes, and mixed-traffic operation. The only transit services that use the busways and exclusive bus lanes are LTD buses. EmX stations (one of which is shown in FigureÂ 19) are generally not shared with other LTD transit services; one exception to this occurs at Gateway Station, where both EmX and local buses stop but do not share a loading area at the station. EmX vehicles (one of which is also shown in FigureÂ 19) are branded buses with a larger capacity than buses used elsewhere in the system. To reduce dwell times, they feature multidoor boarding and onboard bicycle racks. To serve median stations, the buses have doors on both the left and right side. EmX uses the following priority treatments: â¢ TSP â¢ Bus lanes â¢ Queue jumps â¢ Off-board fare collection When the first two phases of EmX were implemented, the underlying local routes were discontinued. When the third phase of EmX was implemented, the underlying local route was redesigned so as to not use the same alignment as EmX. These changes resulted from a desire to distinguish BRT service from local service and also to efficiently distribute resources across the system. Development and Evolution of BRT Services/Facilities LTD was one of the first transit agencies to implement BRT in the United States. LTD originally envisioned a BRT concept with exclusive running ways but realized as the BRT project moved forward that the service would not be able to obtain full exclusivity. The focus thereafter was on meeting operational goals through other approaches, although LTD tried to get as much exclusive ROW as was practical. In some segments of the system, there were wide landscaped medians within which BRT could operate exclusively without impact- ing adjacent properties. In other segments of the system, compromises were needed. For example, key intersections were widened to maintain an acceptable level of service for auto- mobiles and freight. EmX service in West Eugene runs in BAT lanes on 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue to facilitate access to the plentiful commercial properties that exist along that EmX segment. LTD has developed deeper and deeper partnerships with the cities in its service area over time. LTD describes these partnerships by putting the cities first; for example, a given BRT-related project might be framed for the public as something that the âCity of Springfield and LTDâ are doing rather than something that âLTD and the City of Springfieldâ are doing. Strong local agreement and buy-in on goals facilitate the development of future BRT corridors because they represent awareness of community impacts and support. For example, LTD understands that
Source: Lane Transit District, www.ltd.org/emx-rider-guide/. Figure 18. EmX route map.
46 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice a median running way that restricts midblock left turns is not something that local businesses would support. LTD continually makes adaptations to the EmX service. One of the adaptations implemented for the West Eugene segment addressed pedestrians crossing the street from two stations with- out paying full attention to traffic. LTD installed a railing to redirect pedes trians to crosswalks and provide guidance for visually impaired pedestrians. LTD also recently discovered a need to upgrade signage and striping in the West Eugene segment. This need results from concerns about an increase in crashes and near misses in mixed-traffic lanes and BAT lanes. (LTDâs current BAT lane guidance for drivers is shown in FigureÂ 20.) LTD is working with the city of Eugene to develop solutions and will be reviewing alternatives soon, making use of what the agency has learned from operating EmX over time and with the goal of implementing consistent treatments. A third example of an adaptation is that LTD redesigned EmX interiors to allow bicycles onboard as a means of reducing dwell time. Operating Strategies The West Eugene EmX segment includes exclusive running way in some locations to avoid competition between transportation modes getting through traffic signals. The median-operating bidirectional segment of the EmX system was implemented as a bidirectional facility because of a local tree ordinance that prohibited the removal of trees from the median. The concrete strips on which buses run in that segment were originally implemented as a less costly alternative to wider paving; the concrete strips contributed to the image of EmX as a unique transit service. Operation of the bidirectional segment requires active dispatcher monitoring to ensure that a bus traveling in one direction clears the segment before a bus traveling in the opposite direction enters the segment. Delays in traversing this segment can be compounded quickly. Source: MovingAhead, http://www.movingahead.org/alternatives- analysis-report/. Figure 19. EmX vehicle and station.
BRT Current State of Practice 47Â Â Franklin Boulevard turns into 11th Avenue in downtown Eugene. Implementing contraflow operation at that location allowed LTD to economize on ROW acquisition. LTD had concerns about safety and driver expectations associated with operation of the contraflow lane and implemented a campaign to educate incoming University of Oregon students and their parents about how to navigate the area. LTD staff report that this campaign appears to have been effec- tive in reducing crashes and near misses due to the contraflow lane. During special events at the University of Oregon, LTD increases frequencies to 7-minute headways and runs an extra bus. LTD could, theoretically, increase the frequency of EmX service to 7.5-minute headways for more extended periods. However, this would require a dedicated Source: Lane Transit District, https://www.ltd.org/business-access-transit-lanes/. Figure 20. EmX BAT lane guidance for drivers.
48 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice dispatcher working full-time to manage the service in the bidirectional segment of the EmX system, and a small amount of congestion could readily disrupt such frequent operation. If there is snow, EmX buses currently run outside of the busways. Maintenance Strategies EmX running way maintenance is contracted to the local cities. Impacts of BRT Services/Facilities LTD reported the following travel time and speed impacts for the three segments of the EmX system: 1. Franklin: 35% end-to-end travel time reduction as a result of exclusive ROW, TSP, and a reduced number of stops (from 1â4-mile to 1â3-mile spacing); 85% of this reduction may be due to the combination of exclusive ROW and the reduced number of stops. 2. Gateway: Similar speeds as the bus route that previously ran in the corridor; however, the previous route was not continuous. 3. West Eugene: Approximately 25% faster because the previous routes did not operate con- tinuously in the corridor. Route 11 used to run from downtown Eugene to eastern Springfield. When BRT was imple- mented, Route 11 was truncated at Springfield Station. BRT infrastructure saved 6Â minutes per trip between downtown Eugene and Springfield Station. LTD states that EmX operates more reliably than other fixed-route services, although there was initial bus bunching as vehicle operators adjusted to the new operating environment. Reliability is most affected by delays at the Gateway Street/Beltline Road intersection in Spring- field. The Gateway Street/Beltline Road intersection is a location where LTD has not been able to implement TSP or other priority treatments due to the magnitude of the traffic volumes that pass through the intersection. It is a source of 2 to 4Â minutes of delay on every trip. LTD reported that ridership increased 270% after implementation of the Franklin segment of EmX. (This increase can be attributed in part to improved transit service between the University of Oregon and university student housing.) This, in turn, reduced the cost per boarding. The Franklin segment of EmX is the highest-ridership segment in the LTD system. EmX productivity overall is the highest in the system; the productivity of the Gateway segment of EmX is the lowest among the three EmX segments. EmX costs 10% to 15% more to operate per hour than other LTD bus services because EmX uses resources more intensely. Conversely, EmXâs cost per boarding is lower than elsewhere in the system. LTD has not distinguished EmX riders from other riders in its customer surveys, but the agency interprets EmXâs higher ridership per hour as reflecting a high level of customer satisfaction with the service. Lessons Learned LTD indicated that partnering with local cities is important. For example, the city of Eugene was instrumental in convincing the state that BRT could legally operate in its own ROW on Franklin Boulevard (a state highway that was later turned over to the city to maintain). It is important to consider local values and priorities; a local community that supports reducing greenhouse gases might see transit investments as a means of accomplishing that goal.
BRT Current State of Practice 49Â Â LTD reported that a high level of running way exclusivity is critical to stabilizing travel times. In corridors where LTD buses do not operate with a high level of exclusivity, travel times degrade every year. To address this, schedules must be adapted (with consideration of timed transfer points) or additional buses must be run (which is not ideal due to the added operating cost). With EmX, to stabilize travel times LTD took advantage of opportunities to obtain exclusive ROW that might not be available for future corridors. These opportunities for exclusive ROW included wide medians that allowed for dedicated lanes. That said, some intersections currently cause EmX to lose travel time. LTD can make up for some of this loss with TSP and exclusive running ways, but the delays still hinder operations. LTD staff indicated that they would have liked to address bottlenecks like these intersections in the original construction of EmX. Underinvestment in BRT infrastructure at the start might have led to higher operating costs and lower ridership. LTDâs original design philosophy for EmX was based on the belief that it is important in a small region like Eugene-Springfield for BRT to clearly differentiate itself from local bus service. This can be accomplished through infrastructure, through branding, and by not interoperating local bus service and BRT. LTD is currently interested in leveraging BRT infrastructure as a means of improving local bus routes, so the agency is beginning to reconsider how it brands BRT and whether a less-intense version of BRT might be introduced. The flexibility of BRT is an advantage in this respect. By implementing BRT at the corridor level, LTD was able to introduce most BRT features at once and focus on refinements thereafter. âGoing bigâ in this manner allowed LTD to show big results from the start. LTD staff indicated that the agency did not fully understand TSP when the first EmX segment was developed, but the agency has since evolved its technology and its understanding of how to use it. Agency staff report that it was critical to have strong partnerships with the local cities and the state at the beginning of TSP deployment. LTD staff noted that introduction of BRT can introduce some instability in traffic as drivers adapt to features such as BAT lanes. Case Example 4: New York City DOT/MTA Agency/Owner: NYCDOT/MTA Location: New York City, NY Name of BRT Service: Select Bus Service Number of BRT Routes/Facilities: 17 Years of BRT Experience: 11 Annual System Ridership: > 1 billion Background NYCDOT is the transportation department for New York City, and it also operates ferry service. MTA comprises six agencies that operate fixed-route bus, express bus, BRT, heavy rail, commuter rail, ferry, and complementary paratransit services in the New York City region as well as six bridges and tunnels. NYCDOTâs web page about BRT-relevant initiatives is https:// www1.nyc.gov/html/brt/html/betterbuses/betterbuses.shtml. MTAâs web page about BRT- relevant initiatives is https://new.mta.info/projects/bus-improvements. Overview of BRT Services/Facilities NYCDOT and MTA launched SBS in 2008. The SBS program was intended to improve bus service on high-ridership routes and supplement the MTA subway network while also
50 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists (NYCDOT and MTA 2013). There are currently 17 SBS routes. MTA is the operator of the service. NYCDOT owns the ROW in which SBS runs as well as most of the infrastructure associated with the service, including real-time signs and bus stop seating. In many SBS corridors, MTA operated local service and limited service prior to SBS implemen- tation. Where limited services existed, they became SBS. For the synthesis study, NYCDOT/MTA provided detailed information for three SBS routes: â¢ M15 (First Avenue/Second Avenue) SBS â M15 SBS was implemented in 2010. The route operates in semi-exclusive bus lanes (shared completely with other transit services and to a lesser extent with other modes) and mixed traffic. There is some part-time operation. â The route features painted pavement and static regulatory signs. Priority features in use in the corridor are TSP, bus lanes, curb extensions, and off-board fare collection. â M15 SBS buses have multidoor boarding. â When M15 SBS was implemented, it replaced an existing service. The underlying M15 Local route was modified. â¢ Q52/53 (Elmhurst/WoodsideâArverne/Rockaway Park) SBS â Q52/53 SBS was implemented in 2017. The route operates in exclusive bus lanes (which allow only transit vehicles), semi-exclusive bus lanes (shared with turning vehicles and vehicles accessing on-street parking), mixed traffic, and SBBLs. Some segments of bus lanes are offset from the curb. Approximately 30% of the SBS running way is shared with other motor vehicles; approximately 10% is shared with bicyclists. There is some part-time operation. â The route features painted pavement, static regulatory signs, and flex post separators. Priority features in use in the corridor are TSP, bus lanes, queue jumps, curb extensions, and off-board fare collection. â Q52/53 SBS buses have multidoor boarding. â When Q52/53 SBS was implemented, it replaced an existing service. Underlying local routes were discontinued or modified. â¢ M79 (79th Street) SBS â M79 SBS was implemented in 2017. The route operates in semi-exclusive bus lanes and mixed traffic. Approximately 80% of the semi-exclusive bus lanes are shared with other transit services; approximately 30% are shared with non-transit motor vehicles. There is some part-time operation. â The route features painted pavement. Priority features in use in the corridor are bus lanes, queue jumps, curb extensions, and off-board fare collection. â M79 SBS buses have multidoor boarding. â When M79 SBS was implemented, it replaced an existing service. Underlying local routes were discontinued or modified. More information about the previously listed routes can be found in FigureÂ 21, FigureÂ 22, and FigureÂ 23. Local services tend to have stops at the same location as SBS stopsâsometimes SBS and local stops are on adjacent blocks because there is not enough room for SBS and local buses on one blockâbut there are separate loading areas and signposts for each service in nearly all cases. Separation of SBS stops and local bus loading areas in this manner is deliberate because SBS frequencies are high and MTA wants to minimize customer confusion about which bus is arriving. NYCDOT has a bus stop management group that decides where other bus companies (e.g., tour bus companies) are allowed to stop. Sometimes these bus companies use local service stops; however, they do not share loading areas with SBS.
BRT Current State of Practice 51Â Â Source: MTA, âManhattan Bus Service Guide,â https://new.mta.info/ document/8331. Figure 21. M15 and M15 SBS summary. Source: MTA, âQueens Bus Service Guide,â https://new.mta.info/ document/4736. Figure 22. Q52/53 SBS summary.
52 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice Source: MTA, âManhattan Bus Service Guide,â https://new.mta.info/ document/8331. Figure 23. M79 SBS summary. Development and Evolution of BRT Services/Facilities The short blocks that characterize the New York City street network, as well as local politics, made obtaining exclusive ROW for full-featured BRT implementation difficult. The SBS concept was designed to implement similarly effective BRT services under those constraints. A key principle of the SBS concept was being able to implement SBS routes quickly. Quick imple- mentation in capacity-constrained corridors meant that SBS benefits could be realized soon and construction impacts would not inconvenience the local community excessively. Speedy implementation of early SBS routes was therefore a means of building community support for future SBS projects (NYCDOT and MTA 2013). A couple of studies of full-featured BRT implementations are currently underway (e.g., in a Staten Island corridor where rail ROW might be available for conversion to BRT). When SBS was implemented, NYCDOT and MTA wanted riders to make a conscious deci- sion about whether they would take SBS or local service so that if they wanted to take SBS, they would prepare to do so by paying their fare in advance, as SBS travel time benefits depended on off-board fare collection. (Local services started accepting SBS payment slips because riders preferred to pay the fare off-board and then board whichever busâSBS or localâarrived first.) This is another reason why MTA separates loading areas for SBS and local bus service. Riders sometimes want to take the first bus that arrives; MTAâs eventual implementation of a bus stop app and next-arrival signs was intended to help riders board the correct bus. MTA wanted to implement real-time bus information when the SBS program was launched, but the technology was not ready at that time. MTA is currently in the process of transitioning to a new fare collection system. This system, OMNY, is an onboard, tap-and-go approach to fare payment (OMNY 2021), and its systemwide rollout is currently expected to be completed in 2023. Because OMNY will be available on all MTA bus routes, the travel time benefits conferred to SBS by off-board fare collection will no longer differentiate SBS from local bus service. MTA is currently reconsidering how it brands SBS, partly due to the impact of OMNY implementation on SBS identity and partly due to the reality that it is not always possible to operate SBS routes exclusively with SBS-branded buses. MTA wants to maintain as much SBS branding as possible because many corridors have both SBS and local service operating in them and it is important to distinguish arriving buses clearly for riders waiting at the stops. However, the agency realizes that OMNY might make SBS branding less important in the future. Operating Strategies SBS is generally scheduled based on ridership demand. Road operations staff monitor and manage service at key locations to respond to congestion and other events and fill service gaps.
BRT Current State of Practice 53Â Â Dispatchers and service monitors are depot based rather than SBS focused, but because SBS routes are high-ridership and high-volume routes, SBS routes get a lot of attention. At this time, all SBS corridors have some degree of bus lanes; they are usually only placed where they are most needed. The extent of bus lanes can vary from 70% to 80% on some SBS routes to spot locations on others. NYCDOT and MTA would like to have more bus lanes in some locations, but streets are too narrow in the city to accommodate this. Sometimes the bus lanes only approach an intersection and do not continue through it. Part-time operation is in place throughout the SBS network. Bus lanes located adjacent to curbs are more likely to be part-time facilities (e.g., to allow curb access for deliveries), whereas bus lanes offset from the curb (illustrated in FigureÂ 24) are more likely to be full-time facilities. MTA prefers to have offset lanes where possible; offset lanes are needed most during traditional commuter peaks. However, offset lanes have ROW impacts. Local communities have pushed back against 24-hour bus lane restrictions in some corridors, and NYCDOT has modified the restrictions as a result. Such modifications require NYCDOT to engage in time-of-day negotiations with the local communities. Time-of-day restrictions are conveyed to the public via regulatory signs, which are needed on every block where a bus lane exists. Curb extensions may or may not be implemented in conjunction with offset bus lanes. They are typically placed at busier stops, and they are not unique to SBS. It takes longer to implement a curb extension than a bus laneâNYCDOT staff capacity is a factor in thisâso the bus lanes usually go in first. There are a select number of queue jumps in the system. NYCDOT and MTA started looking at identifying queue jump criteria and standards prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. When completed, these criteria and standards might be applied systemwide instead of on a route-by-route basis. MTA advocated for painted bus lanes wherever bus lanes exist to better distinguish the lanes for motorists and bus operators. The paint treatment has caused a problem in one respect: Motorists who are not familiar with how the bus lanes operate sometimes turn right from the outside general traffic lane instead of from the curbside painted lane. Although NYCDOT and MTA have explored the idea of banning right-turning vehicles in some locations, the cityâs bus lane law requires bus lanes to allow right-turning vehicles. MTA staff report that the public often asks for new SBS stops. The agency tries not to add new SBS stops because doing so can increase travel time, but staff will review SBS schedules to see if there are opportunities to make up the increase in travel time elsewhere. NYCDOT and MTA both have enforcement camera programs and work with the police department to conduct targeted enforcement of bus lanes on a rotating basis. There are more bus lanes than the police department has the capacity to enforce. The advantage of camera Source: MTA, https://new.mta.info/projects/bus-improvements. Figure 24. SBS vehicle and running way.
54 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice enforcement is that, as automated enforcement, it is more effective and neutral. NYCDOTâs cameras are mounted over bus lanes and on traffic signal infrastructure. MTAâs cameras are on-bus cameras. The disadvantages of the cameras are that they are expensive and need to be placed where violations are highest. State law initially authorized enforcement of bus lanes on a corridor-by-corridor basis. Currently, enforcement is authorized wherever there are bus lanes. The state legislature did not support the cameras at first but accepted them over time. Maintenance Strategies Pavement paint and markings are refreshed every several years. Damaged flex posts are replaced periodically. NYCDOT mostly uses striping to separate bus lanes from general traffic, as flex posts do not tend to last. Impacts of BRT Services/Facilities NYCDOT/MTA reported the following impacts of the M15 SBS route in the first year: â¢ 15% to 18% improvement in travel time compared to M15 Local. â¢ 9% increase in corridor ridership. â¢ 21% reduction in traffic injuries in route segments where full SBS treatments were applied. â¢ Traffic speeds and volumes were maintained. â¢ Bicycling increased 18% to 177% due to bicycle safety improvements implemented in conjunction with SBS infrastructure. â¢ 99% of surveyed riders were satisfied or very satisfied with M15 SBS; this figure was 90% for M15 Local riders. NYCDOT/MTA reported the following impacts of the Q52/53 SBS route in the first year: â¢ 9% to 10% improvement in travel times. â¢ Reduced bus bunching and improved schedule adherence. â¢ 82% to 87% of surveyed riders preferred Q52/Q53 SBS to the service it replaced. For the M79 SBS route in the first year, NYCDOT/MTA reported that 96% of surveyed M79 SBS riders were satisfied with service compared to 84% of riders who were satisfied with pre-SBS. Lessons Learned NYCDOT and MTA reported the following factors as contributing to the success of the SBS program: â¢ There is a high level of collaboration between the road facility owner (NYCDOT) and the transit operator (MTA). Project ownership should rest with more than one stakeholder; these stakeholders need a âcommon cause.â â¢ The routes selected for the SBS program are high-ridership routes. As such, there was sufficient underlying transit demand to justify changes to how the streets in the SBS corridors are used. â¢ The routes selected for the SBS program had roadway geometry that could accommodate SBS. For example, sidewalks were generally wide enough to accommodate off-board fare collection equipment. â MTA learned that it is often possible to creatively find space for a fare machine even when there appears to be no room at first (e.g., by rearranging the configuration of the fare machines). â Implementation of OMNY is expected to make otherwise infeasible SBS corridors feasible.
BRT Current State of Practice 55Â Â Off-board fare collection was new to many riders, and there was initial agitation from the community about having to pay the bus fare in advance. To help address this, whenever SBS routes were implemented, MTA sent âambassadorsâ to every SBS stop to show riders how to use SBS. Over time, riders have learned that paying their fare in advance translates to faster service. Community buy-in is important for SBS implementation. There can be a lot of pushback at first, especially from car-centric communities, and it can be harder to get community support than to solve roadway operations and geometry issues. However, NYCDOT and MTA have not canceled SBS projects solely because of a lack of community buy-in. Staff work with the local community to address their needs, focusing on opportunities for give-and-take. Overly conservative approaches to reallocating road space and reviewing bus schedules can hinder successful BRT operations. NYCDOTâs approach to this has evolved over time. For example, traffic analyses are now âright-sizedâ based on the conditions in a given SBS corridor, which saves both staff and project implementation time. NYCDOT has also learned that tradi- tional traffic analysis software is not always adequate when the intersection or roadway segment of interest includes a bus lane. SBS route implementation is increasingly focused on quick-build techniques, as described previously. The public process is much faster than it used to be in most cases. NYCDOT and MTA have better toolkits to use now, and these continue to be refined. NYCDOT and MTA have considered if it might have been more fruitful to focus on improve- ments that benefited many routes at once rather than implement discrete BRT corridor projects in which one route was upgraded at a time. A broad-based approach might have created support for additional resources to implement transit priority projects on a wider basis. NYCDOT and MTA recommend that agencies who want to implement BRT must commit to continually improving on the initially implemented project(s). Many of the SBS routes are mature routes now, so the agencies have been able to review them and add and modify features in conjunction with new transportation projects in the corridors. For example, the agencies are currently looking at implementing stronger priority features for the first SBS route (Fordham SBS). MTA further recommends that agencies who want to implement BRT focus on high-volume, high-ridership corridors to benefit the most customers as soon as possible. Also, when looking at stop consolidation, agencies should consider that business owners and residents may not want bus stops in front of their buildings and be prepared to absorb initial pushback from the local community. The agency needs to be ready to rationalize why a given bus stop is being elimi- nated, and agency staff should be flexible but firm in response to community input. Case Example 5: Omaha Metro Agency/Owner: Omaha Metro Location: Omaha, NE Name of BRT Service: ORBT Number of BRT Routes/Facilities: 1 Years of BRT Experience: 1 Annual System Ridership: 10 million to 100 million Background Omaha Metro is the public transit provider for the Omaha, NE, region. The agency operates fixed-route bus, express bus, BRT, and a complementary paratransit service. Omaha Metro is the only transit operator in the city. The agencyâs BRT web page is https://www.ometro.com/ rider-guide/orbt.
56 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice Overview of BRT Services/Facilities Omaha Metro launched Omaha Rapid Bus Transit (ORBT) service in 2020 to serve the high volume of existing ridership in the Dodge Street corridor (the main corridor in Omaha Metroâs transit network) and realize the potential of increased ridership in the corridor. ORBT operates on a state highway in a mix of semi-exclusive bus lanes and mixed traffic. To make ORBT service more identifiable to the public, ORBT stations are not shared with other transit services. ORBT vehicles (depicted in FigureÂ 25) have a larger capacity than other buses operating elsewhere in the system. They feature multidoor boarding. FigureÂ 26 summarizes ORBT service levels. ORBT uses the following priority treatments: â¢ TSP â¢ Bus lanes â¢ Queue jumps Source: Omaha Metro, www.ometro.com/rider-guide/orbt/. Source: Omaha Metro, https://www.ometro.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/ORBT_PDFDownload_May2021.pdf. Figure 25. ORBT vehicle. Figure 26. ORBT service summary.
BRT Current State of Practice 57Â Â â¢ Level boarding â¢ Off-board fare collection (except for ticket vending machines, which are anticipated to be installed in the fall of 2021 after a pandemic-caused delivery delay) When it was implemented, ORBT replaced the local bus service that was operating in the Dodge Street corridor. However, ORBT stations along Dodge Street were implemented as in-line stations in anticipation of the need to minimize conflicts between BRT and future local bus service in the corridor. Development and Evolution of BRT Services/Facilities Dodge Street ORBT is Omaha Metroâs first BRT service. The agency relied on planning, designing, and operating guidance provided by (a) a consultant with extensive BRT experience and (b) outreach to transit agencies with experience planning, designing, and operating BRT (e.g., Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, LTD, Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District, IndyGo, and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Omaha Metro initially wanted to have dedicated bus lanes in the entire Dodge Street corridor. However, the western half of the corridor includes three of the busiest intersections in the city, which results in intersection capacity constraints, and there is limited opportunity to widen roadway segments. In the CBD, ORBT runs on the Dodge Street/Douglas Street couplet, where the capacity of the couplet allowed for implementation of BAT lanes with the cityâs support. The BAT lanes result in more reliable ORBT service during some periods of the day but primarily benefit ORBT via branding and safety. Outside the CBD, Omaha Metro uses TSP and a queue jump to prioritize ORBT vehicles. The city has been upgrading its signal system to implement adaptive signal control, and Omaha Metro was able to implement TSP on Dodge Street as part of that effort. Implementation of TSP in future corridors is anticipated to be straightforward where the city continues to upgrade traffic signals. The queue jump was implemented at an intersection with an existing right-turn lane. Omaha Metro is currently conducting strategic planning to look at expansion of ORBT in 15 potential corridors over the next 10 to 15Â years. One of these corridors was recently announced to be the next ORBT corridor. Operating Strategies Omaha Metro reports that the BAT lanes in the CBD have experienced some enforcement issues, but these issues have been less impactful than anticipated (i.e., ORBT reliability is high). Having clear signage and pavement markings as well as the support of the local police depart- ment helps with BAT lane compliance. Omaha Metro will continue to monitor compliance, as traffic volumes are currently impacted by the pandemic. Before ORBT opened, Omaha Metro anticipated needing a fallback plan to address issues that could interrupt service (e.g., crashes and construction). For each ORBT station, the agency identified an alternate stop location within a couple of bus lengths up- or downstream from the station and marked these locations on a map for riders. When there is a need to use the alternate stop location, the agency puts out temporary signage and issues ready-to-go rider alerts through social media and the Omaha Metro web page. The agency trained ORBT vehicle operators on how to use the alternate stops so that the operators detour consistently.
58 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice Maintenance Strategies ORBT station platforms have electric snowmelt systems to assist with snow removal. Trash receptacles are available at all stations, and trash and debris are picked up daily. Stations are cleaned twice a week, and all vertical surfaces, including concrete, have an anti-graffiti coating. Impacts of BRT Services/Facilities Dodge Street ORBT runs on a 10-minute headway and reduces the travel time of a standard vehicular trip in the same corridor by approximately 3 to 6Â minutes under standard traffic volumes. TSP provides an overall benefit, but when traffic volumes are heavy, the impact of TSP can be minimal. Omaha Metro staff report that Dodge Street ORBT operates with consistent 10-minute headways approximately 90% of the time. If headways vary (e.g., due to construction impacts), recovery time is built into the schedule so that ORBT can serve time points as scheduled. On average, ORBT ridership per day exceeds the level of local bus ridership that existed just prior to ORBT implementation. An average of 550 to 650 riders per day use ORBT, compared to 450 riders per day a year earlier. Weekday ridership has increased the most. ORBT ridership does not exceed the corridor ridership levels that predated the COVID-19 pandemic, but it continues to grow. It should be noted that Omaha Metro is currently running ORBT fare-free to encourage people to try ORBT and to minimize the impact of discontinuing the local route in the Dodge Street corridor. Based on the increase in ridership and positive social media feedback, Omaha Metro staff have concluded that ORBT has been positively received by the community. Lessons Learned The BAT lanes have been helpful in demonstrating that such transit facilities can work success- fully and without adverse impacts on other transportation modes. The city is not opposed to having dedicated bus lanes in future corridors; each corridor would have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis with consideration of impacts on on-street parking and other transportation modes. Agency staff posit that getting more stakeholders onboard with dedicated lanes will make it more likely that dedicated lanes can be implemented in future ORBT corridors. Omaha Metro staff advise preparing for the opening day of a new BRT service several months in advance. This includes holding discussions about BRT operations and maintenance so that operations and maintenance staffâs concerns can be identified and addressed. Such concerns might be as small as figuring out how to address cleaning stains on concrete (i.e., whether stations need a water supply) or as large as making sure there are places near stations to park and unload maintenance equipment. Omaha Metro learned from other agencies that had implemented BRT that such preparations should occur at least 4 to 5Â months in advance, but that still might not be enough time to figure out every possible operating scenario (e.g., unavailable BRT vehicles and snow impacts). It takes a lot of time and effort to develop policies and procedures covering topics such as cleaning contracts and agreements with the city regarding TSP, and there are many activities that have to be coordinated (e.g., training BRT vehicle operators on how to use docking strips). Omaha Metro established a stakeholder committee for the project, and the committee proved to play an important role in supporting public outreach and getting the support of property owners in the Dodge Street corridor. The committee also helped advocate for ORBT after final
BRT Current State of Practice 59Â Â design was completed, serving as âambassadorsâ who helped educate the community about a type of transit service that was new to the area. Stakeholders were also influential during the design phase of the project. Omaha Metro formed working groups dedicated to operations, infrastructure, and outreach and sought their input early (e.g., during preliminary design). Agency staff estimate that it took 8 to 9Â years to plan and implement the Dodge Street ORBT route. The process was dominated by conversations between various stakeholders. In retro- spect, staff believe that they underestimated how much communication and education would be needed to realize the BRT project. They expect that the next BRT route will be implemented more quickly because an operating BRT service in the form of Dodge Street ORBT is one that the public and other stakeholders unfamiliar with BRT can see and use. The next ORBT corridor to be implementedâ24th Street ORBTâis a different kind of cor- ridor. Whereas Dodge Street is an eight-lane highway in some places, 24th Street is a two-lane street in some places. Elements of Dodge Street ORBT will have to be adapted to a different operating environment. Omaha Metro staff want to have discussions as early as possible about station placement and spacing and how BRT impacts local service. Agency staff learned through Dodge Street ORBT implementation that their decision not to run underlying local service on Dodge Street had surprised a number of stakeholders, and staff want to be much clearer about such decision making for future ORBT corridors. Case Example 6: Pace Suburban Bus Agency/Owner: Pace Location: Chicago, IL, region Name of BRT Service: Pulse Number of BRT Routes/Facilities: 4 Years of BRT Experience: 7 Annual System Ridership: 10 million to 100 million Background Pace is the suburban public transit provider for the Chicago, IL, region. The agency operates fixed-route bus, express bus, BRT, and two demand-response services. The agencyâs BRT web page is https://www.pacebus.com/pulse. Overview of BRT Services/Facilities Pace currently operates one Pulse rapid bus lineâthe first route in an envisioned 24-route BRT systemâand also runs prioritized buses in BOS operation and managed lanes. For the synthesis study, Pace provided detailed information for three BRT services/facilities: â¢ Pulse Milwaukee Line â The Pulse Milwaukee line was implemented in 2019. FigureÂ 27 contains a map of the Milwaukee line and the next routes to be implemented in the Pulse system. â The route operates curbside in mixed traffic. â The route features TSP and curb extensions. â Pulse stations feature real-time signs, station marker pylons, heated pavement, level board- ing, and shelters. Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) share Pulse stations. â Pulse service uses a branded vehicle. The vehicle is depicted in FigureÂ 28. â When the route was implemented, underlying local service was redesigned and other local services were modified to provide connections to Pulse. The underlying local service
60 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice Source: Pace, https://www.pacebus.com/pulse. Figure 27. Pace Pulse Phase 1 routes.
BRT Current State of Practice 61Â Â previously had similar headways as the Pulse route but operated over a shorter span. The underlying local service now runs at hourly headways. Pulse runs until midnight and connects to a CTA rail line that operates 24Â hours a day. â¢ I-55 BOS Operations â I-55 BOS operations were implemented in 2011. Buses use the inside shoulder of I-55 at the bus driverâs discretion when general traffic is moving at 15Â miles per hour or less. The buses can operate 15Â miles per hour greater than general traffic, up to a maximum of 35Â miles per hour. Emergency vehicles and broken-down vehicles can also use the shoulder lane. â The buses that use the shoulder lane are coach-style vehicles that cannot accommodate standees. They are branded as express buses. â¢ I-90 Managed Lane Operation â I-90 managed lane operations, referred to locally as âflex lane operations,â were imple- mented in 2017. Buses operate in the inside lanes of I-90. The flex lanes can be opened to emergency vehicles, broken-down vehicles, and general traffic, depending on roadway conditions. The Illinois Tollway operates the flex lanes and makes the decisions about who is allowed to use the lanes. The flex lanes are 17.5Â feet wide and are separated from general traffic lanes by a solid white line. Overhead electronic signs control lane usage; these signs indicate if the lane is restricted to âPace Onlyâ or open to general traffic. â There is an in-line bus station on I-90 at the Barrington Road interchange in Hoffman Estates. â When the facility was implemented, all bus services on I-90 began using it. Development and Evolution of BRT Services/Facilities Pulse Milwaukee is the first route implemented for the Pulse BRT system. Three new Pulse lines are currently in project development, and three more lines are planned for future imple- mentation when funding is available (Pace 2021). All seven lines are considered to be âstrategic regional arterialsâ by the Illinois Department of Transportation (DOT), which means they tend to be higher-speed, higher-volume roadways without on-street parking. As such, it has been challenging for Pace to obtain exclusive or semi-exclusive ROW for Pulse buses, implement queue jumps, or implement turning restrictions for general traffic. It has also been challenging to obtain exclusive or semi-exclusive ROW for Pulse buses on roadway segments owned by the city of Chicago due to the cityâs pedestrian space requirements, the historic status of some Source: Pace, https://www.pacebus.com/pulse. Figure 28. Pace Pulse vehicle.
62 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice medians, and narrow on-street parking lanes. As part of a landscaping and pedestrian project on Milwaukee Avenue, however, the city implemented curb extensions in some locations to support Pulse stations. Pace launched Pulse in the Milwaukee corridor first because it was a relatively short route and involved only two local municipalities. The preexisting local service in the corridor was also one of Paceâs top-performing routes and provided a connection to CTA bus service as well as CTA and Metra rail lines. Local support was strong; the community of Niles embraced the project, completing a land use study, implementing pedestrian and bicycle improvements, and establishing tax increment financing districts along the corridor. The Dempster corridor was selected as the second Pulse corridor because it intersects with the Milwaukee corridor and there are a lot of transfer opportunities as well as multiple connections to CTA and Metra rail lines. Other future corridors were selected based on factors including existing ridership, ridership potential, network connectivity, and regional equity. The I-55 BOS lanes were constructed by Illinois DOT. Pace had been advocating for BOS operation since the 1990s. In 2008, enabling legislation for a 2-year BOS pilot project was passed by the state legislature as part of a transit funding package designed to address a funding crisis for Chicagoâs transit agencies. The I-55 corridor is one of the most congested corridors in the region, and prior to implementation of BOS operation it was not served with adequate bus or rail frequency. BOS occurs on the inside shoulder to avoid potential on-ramp conflicts. As part of then-ongoing work on the inside shoulder, Illinois DOT relocated the shoulder rumble strip so that buses in BOS operation could avoid it. The I-90 flex lanes were initiated by the Illinois Tollway. At one point, I-90 was a corridor for which rail service was planned, but the cost of implementing rail in the corridor was too expensive to justify based on projected ridership. When the Illinois Tollway commenced plan- ning for a widening project circa 2010, the authority implemented a wide inside shoulder lane for flex lane operation. Construction began in 2013. The shoulder lane was built with transit in mind. The Illinois Tollway controls electronic signs that specify who is allowed to use the lane. Typically, only Pace buses and emergency vehicles are allowed to use the lane, but sometimes it is opened to general traffic. There is an in-line transit station along the flex lanes. When planning the Pulse service, Pace did not include off-board fare collection as a feature of the system because the Pace service area is spread out and Pace does not have enough enforce- ment staff to manage such a large off-board fare collection system. However, there is interest in implementing a regional off-board fare collection system. CTA is currently trying an off-board fare payment pilot, but this might not become a systemwide CTA initiative. An off-board fare collection system that serves multi-operator transit centers might be the launch point for a regional off-board fare collection system. Operating Strategies The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is implementing a centralized regional TSP program involving Pace and CTA. Prior to implementation of TSP in the Pulse Milwaukee corridor, signals were optimized and improved travel speed and travel time by 25%. Local bus service also benefits from TSP. Pulse Milwaukee stations are generally placed to maintain 1â2-mile spacing. Station locations were initially influenced by the location of the higher-ridership stops served by the preexisting local bus route. The 1â2-mile spacing contributes to BRT service reliability, as do TSP and near- level boarding. Pace prefers far-side stations to facilitate TSP and prefers to locate stations as close to the intersection as possible.
BRT Current State of Practice 63Â Â Pace began establishing protocols for station designs several years ago. Pulse Milwaukee shares a station with CTA; this on-line station was designed to be long enough to accommodate multiple buses simultaneously. The under-construction Pulse Dempster corridor will include an extra-large station that serves the convergence of multiple bus routes and allows for bus passing and layovers, as well as some ultracompact stations due to ROW constraints and sight distance needs. Pace also identifies station locations with attention to surrounding land uses. On I-55, buses are only allowed to operate on the shoulder when general traffic is operating at 15Â miles per hour or less. While in BOS operation, buses must operate at speeds of no more than 35Â miles per hour or at 15Â miles per hour slower than traffic, whichever is less. FigureÂ 29 shows a Pace bus running on the I-55 shoulder. Maintenance Strategies Pace uses an ad shelter agreement that provides for regular Pulse station maintenance. Pace also has an internal maintenance team that monitors stations for other maintenance needs. Snow removal is managed with an embedded electric pavement snowmelt system. Some stations have small landscaping beds that are maintained by the local city via an intergovernmental agreement. The Pulse stations provide other opportunities for local customization. For example, the stations include customizable shelter panels, and bicycle racks and trash receptacles can be installed to match the surrounding area. If the local city wants to use a different design for a station element, the city is required to maintain that element. Pace maintains community- installed artwork on the rear shelter panel at each station. On I-55, Illinois DOT clears debris from the shoulder to keep the shoulder clear for BOS operation. Illinois Tollway maintains the I-90 flex lane. Impacts of BRT Services/Facilities Pace reported the following impacts of the Pulse Milwaukee line: â¢ Early data suggest that travel times are about 25% faster on Pulse Milwaukee than on the local route. Pulse Milwaukee is not yet at maturity, however, and TSP was not functional until 2021, so these early data are preliminary. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on traffic and ridership patterns. Source: Pace, https://www.pacebus.com/expressway-based-routes. Figure 29. Pace BOS operation.
64 Bus Rapid Transit: Current State of Practice â¢ Ridership on the BRT route was beginning to surpass that of the previous local service when the COVID-19 pandemic began. The BRT route has not lost as much ridership as other Pace routes during the pandemic. Pace reported the following impacts of I-55 BOS operation: â¢ On-time performance improved from around 65% to 92% with the implementation of BOS operation. â¢ Corridor bus ridership increased by 600% with the implementation of BOS operation. The most significant limiting factor on ridership growth now is park-and-ride capacity, vehicle storage, and equipment availability. The state has awarded grant funds to Pace to address park-and-ride capacity. â¢ BOS operation has been well received by the public. Pace reported the following impacts of I-90 flex lane operation: â¢ Transit travel times have been consistent with free-flow general traffic travel times. In general, on-time performance is well above 90%. â¢ Corridor bus ridership increased by 50% prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lessons Learned The hardest challenge Pace faces in developing new BRT service is coordinating with and building support from the large number of communities in the Pace service area. The Pulse Dempster line is a project for which Pace staff have been working to build local support for more than 11 years. Pace has started taking a corridor planning approach to developing future Pulse lines. A corridor planning approach addresses land uses, pedestrians, and other corridor concerns that extend beyond bus service. This approach has helped work out local coordination issues in advance and obtain easements early. Pace staff endeavor to stay aware of opportunities to coordinate with local stakeholders to facilitate transit improvements. Pace includes a proactive team of external relations staff who keep up with initiatives and projects in local communities and communicate frequently with members of those communities; redevelopment of a shopping mall was an opportunity to ask the developer to include space for a future Pulse station in the project. Pace staff are subscribed to a monthly report that summarizes the projects going before local communitiesâ governing boards and councils. Pace staff have an excellent working relationship with the metropolitan planning organization (MPO), which helps Pace stay involved in regional projects. Pace staff indicated that having a successful inaugural prioritized bus project in the form of the I-55 BOS project was important in allowing Pace to push forward with Pulse and other BOS projects. The I-55 BOS project put Pace âon the mapâ and strengthened Paceâs role in regional transit planning and funding discussions. A significant challenge to development of BRT routes is that Pace does not control the ROW in which it provides service. This circumstance makes it more difficult to implement priority features such as dedicated running ways and queue jumps. One approach that Pace is taking to grow support for implementation of such features is finding opportunities to prove concepts locally. For example, Pace is coordinating with Chicago DOT regarding a potential queue jump in the future Pulse Halsted corridor; if successful, this queue jump could serve as a proof of concept to build support for queue jumps elsewhere in the Pace service area. Pace is also including âtactical transit lanesââor short-term pilot projects implemented with simple infrastructure such as orange conesâin its plans. Chicago DOT and CTA have implemented tactical transit lanes; other transit agencies have had great success with them. Cook County is supportive of the initiative.