Inclusive Public Participation
in Transit Decision-Making
A Synthesis of Transit Practice
MICHAEL BAKER INTERNATIONAL INC.
Harrisburg, PA and Tallahassee, FL
E. HOLDINGS, INC.
TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM
The nation’s growth and the need to meet mobility, environmental, and energy objectives place demands on public transit systems. Current systems, some of which are old and in need of upgrading, must expand service area, increase service frequency, and improve efficiency to serve these demands. Research is necessary to solve operating problems, adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and introduce innovations into the transit industry. The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) serves as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative near-term solutions to meet demands placed on it.
The need for TCRP was originally identified in TRB Special Report 213—Research for Public Transit: New Directions, published in 1987 and based on a study sponsored by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration—now the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). A report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Transportation 2000, also recognized the need for local, problem-solving research. TCRP, modeled after the successful National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), undertakes research and other technical activities in response to the needs of transit service providers. The scope of TCRP includes various transit research fields including planning, service configuration, equipment, facilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and administrative practices.
TCRP was established under FTA sponsorship in July 1992. Proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, TCRP was authorized as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). On May 13, 1992, a memorandum agreement outlining TCRP operating procedures was executed by the three cooperating organizations: FTA; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, acting through the Transportation Research Board (TRB); and APTA. APTA is responsible for forming the independent governing board, designated as the TCRP Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Commission.
Research problem statements for TCRP are solicited periodically but may be submitted to TRB by anyone at any time. It is the responsibility of the TOPS Commission to formulate the research program by identifying the highest priority projects. As part of the evaluation, the TOPS Commission defines funding levels and expected products.
Once selected, each project is assigned to an expert panel appointed by TRB. The panels prepare project statements (requests for proposals), select contractors, and provide technical guidance and counsel throughout the life of the project. The process for developing research problem statements and selecting research agencies has been used by TRB in managing cooperative research programs since 1962. As in other TRB activities, TCRP project panels serve voluntarily without compensation.
Because research cannot have the desired effect if products fail to reach the intended audience, special emphasis is placed on disseminating TCRP results to the intended users of the research: transit agencies, service providers, and suppliers. TRB provides a series of research reports, syntheses of transit practice, and other supporting material developed by TCRP research. APTA will arrange for workshops, training aids, field visits, and other activities to ensure that results are implemented by urban and rural transit industry practitioners.
TCRP provides a forum where transit agencies can cooperatively address common operational problems. TCRP results support and complement other ongoing transit research and training programs.
TCRP SYNTHESIS 170
Project J-07, Topic SH-22
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Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, APTA, FAA, FHWA, FTA, GHSA, or NHTSA endorsement of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP.
Cover photo credit: LA Metro NextGen Bus Study public outreach event. Source: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, used with permission.
The report was reviewed by the technical panel and accepted for publication according to procedures established and overseen by the Transportation Research Board and approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this report are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; or the program sponsors.
The Transportation Research Board does not develop, issue, or publish standards or specifications. The Transportation Research Board manages applied research projects which provide the scientific foundation that may be used by Transportation Research Board sponsors, industry associations, or other organizations as the basis for revised practices, procedures, or specifications.
The Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and the sponsors of the Transit Cooperative Research Program do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturers’ names or logos appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the report.
Published reports of the
TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM
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The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. John L. Anderson is president.
The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president.
The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine.
Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.
The Transportation Research Board is one of seven major programs of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation improvements and innovation through trusted, timely, impartial, and evidence-based information exchange, research, and advice regarding all modes of transportation. The Board’s varied activities annually engage about 8,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation.
Learn more about the Transportation Research Board at www.TRB.org.
COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAMS
CRP STAFF FOR TCRP SYNTHESIS 170
Christopher J. Hedges, Director, Cooperative Research Programs
Waseem Dekelbab, Deputy Director, Cooperative Research Programs
Gwen Chisholm Smith, Manager, Transit Cooperative Research Program
Mariela Garcia-Colberg, Senior Program Officer
Emily Griswold, Program Coordinator
Natalie Barnes, Director of Publications
Heather DiAngelis, Associate Director of Publications
TCRP PROJECT J-07 PANEL
Elizabeth Presutti, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART), Des Moines, IA (Chair)
Jameson Auten, Lane Transit District, Eugene, OR
Mallory Avis, Battle Creek Transit, Battle Creek, MI
Raymond Chan, Greater Dayton RTA, Dayton, OH
Roderick B. Diaz, Southern California Regional Rail Authority, Los Angeles, CA
Mark Donaghy, Petersburg, KY
Rachel Dungca, Metro Transit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Anthony, MN
Christian T. Kent, Christian T. Kent, Transit Management Consulting, LLC, Virginia Beach, VA
Beverly Neff, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego, CA
Edward F. Watt, WattADR, Rockaway Park, NY
David C. Wilcock, VHB, Boston, MA
Tara Clark, FTA Liaison
Arthur L. Guzzetti, APTA Liaison
William Terry, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Liaison
TOPIC SH-22 PANEL
Kevin Alvarado, WSP, Medford, OR
Evan Kirk Alvarez, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Urbana, IL
Murriah Suzanne Dekle, WSP, Port St. Lucie, FL
Marc Ebuña, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, Providence, RI
Jose Perez, YCTD, Woodland, CA
Elizabeth Presutti, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART), Des Moines, IA
Lisa Schooley, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Washington, DC
Robert Earl Williams, Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, Ann Arbor, MI
Marjorie Espina Hughes, FTA Liaison
Vanessa Shoenfelt, FTA Liaison
ABOUT THE TCRP SYNTHESIS PROGRAM
Transit administrators, engineers, and researchers often face problems for which information already exists, either in documented form or as undocumented experience and practice. This information may be fragmented, scattered, and unevaluated. As a consequence, full knowledge of what has been learned about a problem may not be brought to bear on its solution. Costly research findings may go unused, valuable experience may be overlooked, and due consideration may not be given to recommended practices for solving or alleviating the problem.
There is information on nearly every subject of concern to the transit industry. Much of it derives from research or from the work of practitioners faced with problems in their day-to-day work. To provide a systematic means for assembling and evaluating such useful information and to make it available to the entire transit community, the Transit Cooperative Research Program Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee authorized the Transportation Research Board to undertake a continuing study. This study, TCRP Project J-07, “Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices,” searches out and synthesizes useful knowledge from all available sources and prepares concise, documented reports on specific topics. Reports from this endeavor constitute a TCRP report series, Synthesis of Transit Practice.
This synthesis series reports on current knowledge and practice, in a compact format, without the detailed directions usually found in handbooks or design manuals. Each report in the series provides a compendium of the best knowledge available on those measures found to be the most successful in resolving specific problems.
By Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Transportation Research Board
Each transit agency must integrate into its public participation plan the strategies, procedures, and outcomes that will ensure participation of its entire communities, including people of color, people with disabilities, and low-income populations, among others, when dealing with its transportation planning issues. This requirement is established under federal laws and regulations. For example, federal transit law, 49 U.S.C. §5307(c)(I), requires transit agencies receiving §5307 urbanized area formula funds to have a locally developed process to solicit and consider public comment before raising a fare or carrying out a major reduction of transportation.
A major reduction in fixed route service shall also include consideration of the impact on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complementary paratransit service. The U.S. Department of Transportation ADA regulations at 49 CFR §37.137(c) also require transit agencies to establish an ongoing mechanism for people with disabilities to participate in the continued development and assessment of paratransit service. In each case, local decisions determine which specific public participation measures are most appropriate and how, when, and how often specific activities should happen.
This synthesis documents current, effective, ongoing public participation mechanisms in transit decision-making resulting in, and instilling participation from, communities of color; communities with limited English-language proficiency and low-income populations; and people with disabilities. The synthesis also highlights practices that comply with ADA regulations, as well as those that go beyond the ADA requirements. The synthesis describes innovative approaches and challenges from the transit agency perspective. A literature review; completed survey responses of practices of 32 transit agencies; and current documents, brochures, and other guidance were collected. Additionally, full case examples of six transit agencies were conducted. They provide information on the state of the practice and emphasize lessons learned and challenges.
Aarion Franklin from Michael Baker International Inc., and Janai Williams from E. Holdings, Inc., collected and synthesized the information and wrote the report, under the guidance of a panel of experts in the subject area. The members of the topic panel are acknowledged on page iv. This synthesis is an immediately useful document that records the practices that were acceptable within the limitations of the knowledge available at the time of its preparation. As progress in research and practice continues, new knowledge will be added to that now at hand.
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