What GAO Found
U.S. bus rapid transit (BRT) projects we reviewed include features that distinguished BRT from standard bus service and improved riders’ experience. However, few of the projects (5 of 20) used dedicated or semi-dedicated lanes— a feature commonly associated with BRT and included in international systems to reduce travel time and attract riders. Project sponsors and planners explained that decisions on which features to incorporate into BRT projects were influenced by costs, community needs, and the ability to phase in additional features. For example, one project sponsor explained that well-lighted shelters with security cameras and real-time information displays were included to increase passengers’ sense of safety in the evening. Project sponsors told us they plan to incorporate additional features such as off-board fare collection over time.
The BRT projects we reviewed generally increased ridership and improved service over the previous transit service.
An analysis of data from 371 transit providers in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas reveals that:
Over three-quarters of all jobs in the 100 largest metropolitan areas are in neighborhoods with transit service. Western metro areas like Los Angeles and Seattle exhibit the highest coverage rates, while rates are lowest in Southern metro areas like Atlanta and Greenville. Regardless of region, city jobs across every metro area and industry category have better access to transit than their suburban counterparts.
The typical job is accessible to only about 27 percent of its metropolitan workforce by transit in 90 minutes or less. Labor access varies considerably from a high of 64 percent in metropolitan Salt Lake City to a low of 6 percent in metropolitan Palm Bay, reflecting differences in both transit provision, job concentration, and land use patterns. City jobs are consistently accessible to larger shares of metropolitan labor pools than suburban jobs, reinforcing…
Transit oriented development has been a large part of Boston’s growth since the earliest horse-drawn railways. In fact, we live in a uniquely transit-oriented region, where 25% of housing units and 37% of employment is within a half-mile of a rapid transit or commuter rail station. Now Metro Boston is experiencing a new wave of growth near transit, with hundreds of residential and commercial developments underway and more on the horizon. Cities and towns are creating station area plans and updated zoning to unlock development potential; the MBTA is accepting proposals for major developments on prime T-owned parcels; state agencies are using transit proximity as a criteria for prioritizing infrastructure or housing resources; and the development community is finding a strong market for residential and commercial space near the T.
There are good reasons for this burgeoning interest in Transit Oriented Development (TOD.) New growth near transit stations can help…
Why measure active Transportation?
Active transportation—generally referring to purpose-oriented trips by walking or cycling—can be an important component of one’s daily travel. Furthermore, active transportation or active travel (hereafter, AT) has important implications for personal health, livability, and environmental resources. Measuring changes in AT via well-established indicators is particularly relevant in two fields: health and transportation. Those working in the transportation field want to understand the demand for different types of facilities to support sustainable, cost-effective mobility for the entire population. They are also interested in how active transportation links to public transportation. Those in the public health field realize that to only focus on exercise misses much routine physical activity done in the course of commuting, paid work, chores, and errands. Both fields aim to measure aspects of active transportation, but…
As the Puget Sound region invests billions in a new light rail system, many stakeholders, including community leaders, workers, equity advocates and planners, are asking – who will benefit? Will the advantages of living along light rail be shared by households of all incomes and people of all races and ethnicities?
Transit oriented development (TOD), holds tremendous promise and opportunity for communities of color and low-income households. But, strong evidence of gentrification and the threat of displacement in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, accelerated by the light rail, threaten to undermine this promise. Rainier Valley represents one of the most racially diverse areas in the Puget Sound and is also one of the first communities to receive light rail.
Ensuring that TOD results in real equity outcomes requires a sharp focus on what equity means and a steady determination to achieve those outcomes. By including a racial justice framework in TOD planning and…
The federal government, through various transportation acts, such as the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), and, more recently, the Safe, Affordable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act—A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), has reinforced the need for integration of land use and transportation and the provision of public transit. Other federal programs, such as the Livable Communities Program and the New Starts Program, have provided additional impetus to public transit. At the state and regional level, the past three decades have seen increased provision of public transit. However, the public transit systems typically require significant operating and capital subsidies—75 percent of transit funding is provided by local and state governments.1 With all levels of government under significant fiscal stress, new transit funding mechanisms are welcome. Value capture (VC) is once…
The Fairfax County, VA, Planning Commission TOD Committee, established in May 2006, was a special committee of the Planning Commission which sponsored an open and visible process to gather input on a consensus vision and guidance on Fairfax County Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). The Committee's goal was to recommend language to the Board of Supervisors and County staff for use in a Policy Plan Amendment (STO7-CW-ICP) that provided a standardized definition and set of guiding principles for Transit-Oriented Development in Fairfax County.
It is recognized that hard factors such as travel time, cost, availability of public transport services, and car ownership have a major impact when people consider the choice between using an automobile or public transport. Nevertheless, there is evidence from the literature that rail-based public transport often is considered superior to bus systems, even in cases where quantitative hard factors are equal. This attraction of passengers is known as a psychological rail factor, and it is used to express a higher attraction in terms of higher ridership of rail-based public transport in contrast to bus services (Axhausen et al. 2001; Megel 2001b; Ben-Akiva and Morikawa 2002; Vuchic 2005; Scherer 2010a). The existence of this rail factor is widely accepted among experts, but little evidence exists about the reasons for this phenomena.
The idea of a rail factor is consistent with statements that the image of a transport system has an impact on demand. Furthermore, research…
TCRP Report 153: Guidelines for Providing Access to Public Transportation Stations provides a process and spreadsheet-based tool for effectively planning for access to high capacity transit stations, including commuter rail, heavy rail, light rail, bus rapid transit (BRT), and ferry. The report is accompanied by a CD that includes the station access planning spreadsheet tool that allows trade-off analyses among the various access modes (automobile, transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and transit-oriented development) for different station types. The potential effectiveness of transit-oriented development opportunities to increase transit ridership is also assessed.
This report and accompanying materials are intended to aid the many groups involved in planning, developing, and improving access to high capacity transit stations, including public transportation and highway agencies, planners, developers, and…
The 2011-2012 Sacramento Regional Transit Comprehensive Operational Analysis, commonly known as “TransitRenewal”, includes a review of existing market conditions and transit service and aims to position the RT network to sustainably meet future transit demand within the service area. Sustainability is the method of using a resource without depleting or damaging it for future use. Sustainable transit planning focuses on meeting transit needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet such needs1. TransitRenewal responds to changing economic circumstances and RT’s new financial realities. In 2010, RT implemented substantial service reductions which included discontinuing several bus routes, reducing service levels, and reducing spans. TransitRenewal responds to RT’s plan to regain previous FY 2010 service levels and intends to identify core areas of the RT system where investment will have a maximum benefit, and will guide RT to…