Center Identification Number: 576-09
Project Title: Special Event Transportation Service Planning & Operations Strategies for Transit
Wambalaba, Senior Research Associate
Hagelin, Research Associate
Catala, Research Associate (GIS Applications)
Graduate Student Assistant:
Valk, Transportation Management Services
for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR)
External Project Contact:
Amy W. Datz
Public Transportation Office / Transit Planning
(850) 414 - 4239, (SC) 994-4239
I. Project Objective
The goal of this project is to meet expressed needs from transit agencies (such as Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HARTline) and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) which have previously expressed interest) for developing a transportation service guide for special events that could benefit Florida transit agencies and also be generalized for any other transportation organization around the country and elsewhere. Developing a Special Events Transportation Service (SETS) guide is important for: 1) providing the use of alternative travel arrangements ranging from occasional events that draw large crowds, such as festivals, games and fairs, to temporal incidents such as responses to construction projects, routing for emergency disasters, responses to major traffic accidents and other related incidents that create temporary traffic problems and, 2) reducing traffic and parking problems, improve safety and security, reduce stress, or simply provide transportation options.
Unlike regular service planning, service for special events offers one of the greatest planning challenges for transit service providers and is the biggest attractor of non-regular riders. Unfortunately, service for special events is the one service that is most often left to ad hoc planning for most transit service providers and where applicable, the one whose design is usually based on tradition rather than any systematic objective goals. Consequently, inherent benefits of special events service are potentially never maximized nor costs minimized.
This research study will develop a planning resource guide for special events service planning and operations for Florida transit agencies and organizations that need to coordinate with those transit agencies. While special events range from very large events such as the Olympics to very the small events such as a local community parade or from a casual choice to ride special service such as to ball game to a mandatory requirement to ride such as commuting into New York in the weeks following 9/11, this study will focus on average special events.
Given ample coverage of the very large events in literature, this study will strive for filling the gap by focusing on typical events that tend to be taken for granted and planned on an ad-hoc basis. The study will develop a transportation service guide for typical special events that could benefit Florida transit agencies and also be generalized for any other transportation organization. It will include strategies for coordination within and among relevant agencies. It is also anticipated that developing such a planning framework will enable service providers to proactively plan a head and thereby maximizing benefits and minimizing costs.
II. Project Abstract
According to the Federal Highway Administration’s study project, special events are an important part of the operating environment of the surface transportation system. These events have the potential to affect a number of modes and components of the transportation system (including highway, transit, rail and air). Special events include sporting events, parades, national conventions, international summits, music festivals, fairs and other events of regional and local interest including responses to catastrophic incidents such as terrorism, earthquakes, hurricanes etc. The National Highway Institute has defined them as an occurrence that “abnormally increases traffic demand”. Typical services may include Park and Ride (P&R) arrangements or use of conveniently located public P&R facilities and providing shuttle services.
The delivery of transportation services during special events often requires the cooperation of agencies that don’t usually work together. Such coordination and planning provides an opportunity to pursue innovative operational practices and to apply technologies to improve the performance of the transportation system and other transportation services. Managing the increased travel demand that occurs during special events, while effectively utilizing the available roadway and service capacity during these events, can be oriented to optimize the performance of the surface transportation system. To do this, multiple agencies need to engage in advance to plan and coordinate the delivery of transportation services and operation of components of the system.
In the Tampa Bay area, HARTline and PSTA have expressed interest in developing such a reference guide. Given the growing potential and existing multitude of special events in various urban areas of Florida, along with the growing need for transit agencies to attract new riders, it is vital that transit agencies have an operations reference resource to ensure effective planning and efficient service. Without such a resource, most agencies will keep reinventing the wheel, especially in situations of new personnel.
III. Task Descriptions
Task 1: Review of Literature & Recruitment of Expert Panel
While the review of existing literature will be continuous throughout the research process, the first step will involve compiling and synthesizing of this literature to identify gaps in existing special events planning documents and to provide the basis for survey questions and target institutions. The review will also include implications of charter service provisions, especially updates on recent rulings. And besides the current Transportation Demand Management (TDM) expert on special events planning, this task will also include recruitment of a panel of experts to include transit, police, fire, medical emergency and other key people involved in event management, scheduling and traffic management.
Task 2: Develop a Survey & Interview Instrument and Process
Based on the information gathered from the above, along with existing literature, develop a survey and interview instruments tailored to fill in the gaps revealed from the literature and exploration. The survey instrument will be sent to each Florida transit agency for documentation of general characteristics. The interview instrument will focus on select transit agencies in Florida for a more detailed interview and review of their SETS operation. Specific activities for this task will therefore include:
Task 3: Surveys, Interviews and Review of Current Practices
The survey process will constitute a major core of the research to include Florida agencies, other select transit agencies around the country and other related agencies that coordinate with or provide support services. The goal of the survey will be to provide enough information about the current practices by Florida transit agencies along with comparative information from select more proactive transit agencies around the country. At the minimum, this task will include:
General Surveys and Interviews
Event specific surveys
Task 4: Synthesis of Current Practices
The synthesis process will include general and event specific surveys.
Task 5: Develop Draft Guide
This task will include:
Task 6: Complete Report
This task will include:
VI. Relationship to Other Research Projects
Review of existing literature so far has not resulted in significant findings of a reference resource for transit agencies on managing transportation for special events designed for comprehensiveness and replication. While there have been efforts to develop informational resources for city traffic engineers as well as state DOTs, resources for transit agencies are almost non-existent.[i] Most of those that exist or are under way have tended to focus on mega events such as the Olympics, major spots, car races etc. Similar research efforts in this area have included the Federal Highway Administration’s study on special events but with emphasis on traffic management, especially for mega events.
However, since many transit agencies typically provide service for more routine special events such as local sports, festivals, conventions etc, it is important that a resource focusing on such needs at that level is similarly provided. A quick glance at several transit agencies’ websites reveal that even for those service providers who regularly provide service for special events, their package tends to vary from entity to entity. Planning practices for special events service remains diverse. For example, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) in Denver, Colorado[ii], identifies a wide range of events for which they provide special service, while King County Metro in Washington[iii], identifies a limited range of events but categorize them in terms of long term and short-term service. In some cases, some unique events have attracted top-level interest and thus more formal planning. These range from service planning for widely anticipated events such as millennium celebrations in New York[iv] and San Francisco,[v] to specialized tourist service by the electrowave shuttle in Miami[vi].
Several other related studies on special events have tended to either focus on mega events or been mainly descriptive without attempts to develop strategies. For example, the Event Study of the 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, focused on the performance of the various ITS deployments and new infrastructure extensions, and determination of the technical, operational, and institutional "lessons learned". Similarly, in The 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics Plan, the focus was on transportation planning with emphasis on seven critical elements for success including a transportation guide, expanded light rail, the mountain venue express, transportation web site, 511 traveler information number, AM radio campaign and "Know Before You Go" campaign.
Other less descriptive literature, but still from a traffic manager’s perspective include Application of Traffic Management Tool for Special Events in Small and Medium Cities, written by J. Guzman. The research identified background information regarding special events and documents the traffic management strategies. In a related paper The Special Events Planning in the City of Los Angeles, G. Ogura discusses ways in which the city deals with special events traffic planning, including such events as the Academy Awards, the Los Angeles Marathon and the Fiesta Broadway. Also, a National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 309, entitled, “Transportation Planning and Management for Special Events”, surveyed stakeholders (police, fire, emergency medical services, transportation agencies and planning organizations) with the goal of determining how to disseminate information to motorists by using traffic control devices to manage the flow of traffic and to carry out Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies to control traffic demand. The specific improvements in overall transportation system efficiency included the following:
Another national level effort was evidenced in the NCHRP project proposal, “Transportation Planning for Special Events”, that was considered but not selected for 2002 funding. [vii] Similarly, the goal of that proposed study was to develop a resource emphasizing interagency coordination but not much on what the transit agencies need to do. Yet, transit agencies continue to play a significant role for special events in their communities.
This proposed study would specifically focus on strategies for transit agencies, a gap that is evident in current literature as well as both ongoing research and proposed research as evidenced below. The proposal is based on research activities such as a 2002 paper presented at the American Public Transit Association (APTA) Intermodal Operations Planning workshop based on Tri-Met’s SETS program. It will also focus more on targeted interviews to provide more depth than current studies that have relied on general surveys.
VII. Technology Transfer Activities/Peer Review
This research project is designed to provide a planning resource as well as strategies for Florida transit agencies in providing service for special events. Similarly, it will increase the knowledge of public transit officials, city planners, transportation demand management professionals, and event planners about strategies for developing and coordinating an effective service for special events. Any documentation that is prepared will be made available at select conferences in Florida such as the Florida Public Transit Association (FPTA) training workshops. Information will also be made available through the National Center for Transit Research (NCTR) website as a streaming media presentation and report, TDM Review, the quarterly publication of Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), Transportation Research Board (TRB) and APTA publications and other related venues.
VIII. Potential Benefits of the Project
The study will be widely applicable in determining the effectiveness of providing service for special events and will therefore primarily benefit Florida transit service operators. However, other organizations such as traffic managers, event planners, emergency and security officers and other transportation related organizations stand to benefit from the implications of the results. The findings will enhance special event service efficiency as well as providing a resource guide for both providing service to event goers and relief of crowding on regular service buses. Similarly, other partial benefits are anticipated to accrue to the research community in terms of potential for modeling and analysis (which is outside the scope of this proposal but of potential interest for a subsequent study).
Notes: This budget does not reflect any federal participation.
The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above.
2. Time Line
Project Start Date: January, 2004
[i] At the 82nd TRB annual meeting, several papers were presented, most of which detailed specific events while two focused on national level resources which tailored more towards traffic management rather than transit agency strategies.State DOT Planning: Special Event Management (pdf file, 504,061 bytes) Terrapin Station Traffic Management Plan (pdf file, 3,252,135 bytes), World Youth Day 2002 (pdf file, 1,720,365 bytes), Managing Travel - Suggested Practices (pdf file, 2,560,958 bytes), Technical Reference Overview (pdf file, 576,600 bytes)
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