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FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Research Project Description

Center Identification Number: 473-12

Project Title: Assessment of Transit Information Materials and Development of Criteria for Prototype Transit Materials 

Principal Investigator:
Jennifer Hardin, Research Associate
813-974-1092
E-mail: hardin@cutr.eng.usf.edu

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

External Project Contact:Tara Bartee, FDOT

I. Project Objectives

To identify successful and user-friendly transit bus schedules and route maps nationally and internationally and to classify each in terms of design elements included.  To develop and carry out a process for determining a sample of design elements to be included in prototype transit information materials.

II. Project Abstract

This project will draw from the findings of the NCTR Research Project, Assessment of Operational Barriers and Impediments to Transit Use, wherein the lack of effective and user-friendly bus schedules and route maps in Florida was identified as a significant barrier to transit use among non-users.  This preliminary project will serve as the foundation for a second phase of the Operational Barriers and Impediments to Transit Use project, wherein prototype transit information materials will be developed and field tested to evaluate the effectiveness of specific design materials.  During this preliminary project, bus schedules and route maps will be collected from national and international markets to identify the "best practices" in transit information materials.  These materials will be classified based on the design elements included.  A process also will be developed that will guide the objective selection of design elements to be included in prototype materials that will be developed in the next phase of the project.  The preliminary project will conclude with the application of the process in the selection of the design elements to be included in prototype materials.  The results of the proposed research will be compiled in a research plan for Phase Two of the project.

III. Task Descriptions

This project will include three distinct tasks designed to achieve the objectives listed above.  Each task is described below.

Task 1: Collect national and international examples of user-friendly bus schedules and route maps

The objective of this task is to identify examples of printed transit materials that represent the "best practice" in the design of bus schedules and route maps.  Toward this end, the investigators will collect and review bus schedules and route maps from national and international transit markets.  The research team will draw on referrals provided by contacts in the fields of transit marketing, planning, and operations as one method of identifying materials to be included in the database of schedules and maps.  In addition, extensive Internet research will be conducted to identify potential materials.

Task 2: Classify Printed Transit Materials by Design Elements

Each piece of printed transit information included in the database will be reviewed by CUTR research staff for an assessment of the content of information provided as well as design elements included, such as spatial representation, points of reference and the transit service area environment, use of color, use of maps, transfer locations, terminals, and bus stops.  This information will be recorded in a matrix illustrating the specific elements included in each of the materials.  This information will be combined with similar data recorded for materials previously collected from Florida transit properties during the Operational Barriers and Impediments to Transit Use project.  

Task 3: Develop & Apply Process for the Selection of Prototype Design Elements

This final task will involve the development of a formal process whereby to select the design elements to be included in prototype bus schedules and route maps for Phase Two of the Operational Barriers and Impediments to Transit Use project.  The process will be developed with the consultation and assistance of the FDOT project manager.  Potential criteria that will be considered in the design element selection process include ease of use, relative importance of information conveyed, and amount of variability.  Upon acceptance by the CUTR research team and FDOT project manager of the proposed design element selection process, CUTR will use the process to select the specific design elements and the number and type of variants that will be field tested in Phase Two of the Operational Barriers and Impediments to Transit Use project.

Deliverable: The printed transit information design element classification matrix, description of the selection process adopted to choose the specific design elements to be included in prototype transit information materials, and the selected design elements and variants will be included in a Final Report.

IV. Student Involvement

Graduate students will be used to assist in the identification, collection, and review of pertinent printed transit information materials, matrix development, the design element selection process, and preparation of materials for the final report.

V. Relationship to Other Research Projects

This project will directly draw on the experience and knowledge gained through the recently completed Operational Barriers and Impediments to Transit Use project, as well as research that has been conducted related to the effectiveness and usability of printed bus schedules and route maps.

VI. Technology Transfer Activities

The results of this analysis will be provided to the FDOT through a final report, as outlined above.  Copies of the final report will be provided to the Research Office, the State Public Transportation Administrator, and the Manager of the Transit Office.  Information also will be made available on the NCTR website and through presentations at local and national conferences.

VII. Potential Benefits of the Project 

The benefits of the project include the potential development and testing of printed transit information materials that are user-friendly and effective.  In addition, the results of the project may provide confirmation and support for existing transit materials by highlighting the effectiveness of using specific design elements in bus schedules and route maps.

VIII. TRB Keywords

Transit marketing, bus schedules, route maps, transit literacy, schedule design

 

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 www.nctr.usf.edu Comments: webmaster@cutr.eng.usf.edu