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Center Identification Number: 392-11

Project Title: Assessment of Operational Barriers and Impediments to Transit Use

Principal Investigators:

Jennifer Hardin, Research Associate


Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South
Florida Tampa, Florida

External Project Contact:
Tara Bartee, Planning Administrator, Transit Office, FDOT

I. Project Objective

To identify and address, from the existing and potential passenger's point of view, the scope and impact of operational barriers and impediments to transit use in Florida. Examples of potential barriers to transit use include, but are not limited to, difficulty reading and understanding bus schedules, poor signage, insufficient connectivity, lack of real time information, insufficient customer information services, and on-board fare policies. Identified barriers will be prioritized in terms of the degree to which they impede the use of transit and amount of resources necessary to overcome the barrier. Finally, recommendations and an implementation plan outlining potential solutions to each priority barrier will be developed.

II. Project Abstract

The decision to use public transit as a means of alternative transportation is a somewhat complex process. The potential rider must know that a public transportation system is available, how to contact the public transportation system for information on how to use the system for each desired trip, where to go to catch a bus, how to recognize bus stops, which side of the street to stand on to catch a bus going to his destination, how to make transfers, the fare and fare media accepted for each trip, as well as how to read and understand bus system maps and schedules. If the individual must wait for a bus, the final decision to ride may also be impacted by the safety and comfort of the bus stop environment. The on-board experience, which includes passenger comfort and driver courtesy and assistance, will also be important to the rider's overall impression and opinion of public transit. Problems encountered in any of the transit experience elements described above can result in a decision to find alternative means of transport. Many barriers encountered in the transit experience may be rectified by transit agencies with relatively little expense. This project will seek to identify issues or problems encountered by existing and potential transit users in the overall transit experience that become barriers to using transit. The project will focus only on those barriers which may be overcome with a feasible level of effort and investment of resources. Finally, summary recommendations and a proposed implementation plan will be developed to facilitate the elimination of barriers to transit use throughout Florida.

III. Task Descriptions

Task 1 Conduct Literature Review to Identify Preliminary Barriers to Transit Use

This task will include a review of local, state, and national research and data pertaining to barriers to using transit in the United States. Barriers will include those that restrict usage among current transit riders, as well as those that inhibit use among the population of potential transit users. At this stage, all identified barriers will be considered without regard to the potential costs associated with the resolution of identified problems. The review will include an assessment of the magnitude of the identified barrier and its relevance to Florida transit systems, given the unique operating, planning , and funding environment in the state.

Task 2 Review Florida Transit Systems On-Board Survey Data for Information on Rider-Identified Barriers

This task is designed to supplement the information collected in Task 1 by collecting information on barriers to transit use identified by current transit users in on-board passengers surveys conducted by CUTR for transit systems throughout the state of Florida. Information on the barriers experienced by current transit users will also be drawn from the Transit Costs and Customer Satisfaction Index for Florida Transit Properties project conducted by CUTR as part of the FDOT Research Idea Program. This task will provide Florida-specific data related to transit barriers. Deliverable: Technical Memorandum I: Barriers to Transit Use - Results of Literature Review and On-Board Survey Data Review.

Task 3 Select Barriers for Detailed Examination and Testing

Following the completion and review of Technical Memorandum 1, CUTR will meet with the FDOT project manager to prioritize barriers and select a sample of the identified barriers for further examination and testing. The selection of barriers for further study will focus on those that would benefit from operational testing and are considered the best candidates for attainable resolution by local transit properties.

Task 4 Conduct Observational and Experiential Tests of Selected Barriers to Transit Use

CUTR will design and conduct observational and experiential tests of selected barriers in order to determine the magnitude of each barrier. For example, riders often cite difficulty reading and understanding transit schedules and maps as a problem in using transit. This barrier might benefit from further examination by having current or potential riders use a route schedule and map to plan a complete round trip. Upon completion of the exercise, the individual would be questioned regarding any problems or difficulties encountered. Operational and experiential tests will be conducted in several transit service areas throughout the state. Locations of tests will be based on identified and selected barriers.

Task 5 Develop Recommendations and Implementation Plan

Based on the results of all previous tasks, CUTR will prioritize the identified barriers in terms of the degree to which they impede the use of transit in Florida. The potential for resolution of each barrier will also be addressed. Finally, recommendations on how to overcome the identified barriers to transit use will be proposed and an implementation plan for resolution of barriers will be developed.

IV. Student Involvement

Graduate student assistance will be used to research barriers and assist in the development and tests of identified barriers.

V. Relationship to Other Research Projects

This project is an update of a current Department Planning Manual.

VI. Technology Transfer Activities/Peer Review

The Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida has worked directly with a majority of the transit system in Florida. This project will draw on direct experience gained from the development of Transit Development Plans (TDP) and Transportation Disadvantaged Service Plans (TDSP), and community mobility projects for transit and paratransit properties throughout the state. In addition, this project will also incorporate information from the Transit Costs and Customer Satisfaction Index for Florida Transit Properties carried out under the FDOT Research Idea Program.

VII. Potential Benefits of the Project

The results of this research will be disseminated to transit properties throughout Florida. In addition, presentations of results will be conducted at various transportation conferences such as the Florida Transit Association Annual Meeting and the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting.

VIII. TRB Keywords

Public transit, operational barriers, schedules, customer information


National Center for Transit Research at the Center For Urban Transportation Research University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 Tampa, FL 33620-5375 (813) 974-3120 (813) 974-5168 Comments: