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Center Identification Number:  77720      

 

Project Title:  Best Practices In Transit Service Planning   

 

Co-Principal Investigators:        

Jay Goodwill
Phone: (813) 974-8755
E-mail: jaygoodwill@cutr.usf.edu

Rob Gregg
Phone: (813) 974-8383
E-Mail: gregg@cutr.usf.edu

Institution:                             

 

Center for Urban Transportation Research

University of South Florida

Fax: 813-974-5168

 

External Project Contact:     

 

Tara Bartee

Public Transportation Office / Transit Planning

850-414-4529

Email: tara.bartee@dot.state.fl.us

 

 

I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

The provision of cost efficient and effective bus transit service is the basic premise upon which transit service is developed and the goal that all public transportations agencies strive to achieve. To attain this goal, public transit agencies must design their services around clear and defined principles, as well as a process to monitor the results achieved and to respond accordingly. This requires service design standards, an effective performance measurement system, and a systematic and continuous service evaluation methodology.

Based upon research conducted by CUTR for Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) in 2003, surveys received from 28 of the largest transit systems in North America revealed that these public transit agencies performed route design and performance evaluation in a wide variety of manners. A few agencies had sophisticated standards and systems in place, while many others appeared to only conduct very informal assessments of their services.

The September 14, 2005 teleconference on “Transit Service Standards” conducted by the Florida Transit Planning Network (FTPN) revealed a high degree of interest in this subject among Florida public transit agencies. However, based upon the informal survey conducted prior to the teleconference call and the discussions that ensued during the teleconference, the majority of Florida transit agencies did not have any formal adopted transit service standards or processes. All the participants, when polled, expressed a strong interest in pursuing the development of realistic, useable, and flexible transit service planning practices and felt additional research and discussions should be undertaken.

II.  Objectives/Tasks

The objective of this research would be to identify existing best practices and to develop a generic model approach that could be adapted and used by all Florida public transit agencies for fixed route bus transit service planning, specifically to include: Service Design Standards, Service Performance Measurements, and a standard Service Evaluation Methodology. The focus of the research will be on short term transit service planning, including its relationship to efficient route scheduling.

The results of this research effort will provide a summary of best practices and provide a tool that can be adapted and customized for use by all size public transit agencies. The end product will permit Florida public transit agencies to have a transit service planning reference tool that would allow local development and customization of:

• Service Design Standards and Policies for subjects such as, but not limited to:

o Service area coverage policy
o Service quality standards
o Span of service
o Service frequency
o Scheduling techniques
o Productivity standards
o Farebox recovery goals
o Minimum load standards
o Passenger amenity standards and policies
o Safety and accident minimization strategies
o Land Use oriented design strategies
o When and where to add new service

• Service Performance Measures based upon the service design standards and other policies of the transit agency. The transit agency has a wide variety of transit performance measures available, as evidenced nationally by the recent TCRP report on the subject. The Florida DOT Block Grant Program requirements and the requirement to assess service quality as set forth in the Transportation Capacity and Quality of Service Manual in the MPO Long Range Transportation Plans are two measurement systems used by all Florida systems. The focus of this effort would be to determine a more defined list of measurements that would:

o Support the assessment of the service design standards
o Support the service evaluation process
o Relate to service cost allocation and budgetary control issues
o Utilize data readily available and accurate, including those accessed through transit technologies such as electronic fare payment systems, automatic passenger counters, automatic vehicle locator systems, and scheduling software systems

• Service Evaluation Methodology that would be based upon adopted service standards, utilizes the service performance measures, and provides an evaluation methodology to assess bus service performance in an objective and systematic manner. The internal agency processes for this effort will also be addressed. It is expected that output from this process would be used to address high performing and sub-performing routes through actions such as:

o Internal service evaluations procedures (organizational roles and responsibilities)
o Schedule adjustments
o Route adjustments
o Increased marketing efforts
o Service reduction
o Service elimination
o Service enhancements / new service decision tree

The proposed scope of services for this project consists of the following tasks.

Task 1 Literature Review

The investigators will review and summarize previous studies related to transit service planning, including, but not limited to, the 2003 TCRP Report 88 – “ A Guidebook for Developing a Transit Performance-Measurement System” and the May 2003 “Best Practice in Bus Transit Service Planning” report prepared by CUTR for Miami-Dade Transit (MDT).

The results of this task will help provide the overview of the different types of service design standards, service performance measurements, and service evaluation methodologies used in the public transportation industry.

Task 2 Consultation with Florida Transit Agencies

Utilizing and building upon the results of Task 1, the Florida fixed route transit systems receiving FTA Section 5307 and FDOT Transit Block grant funding will be contacted through surveys and individual contacts to determine their current practices, policies, and procedures in service design standards, service performance measurements, and service evaluation methodologies. This effort will take advantage of CUTR’s established contacts and associated work with the Florida Transit Planning Network Service Standards Committee, the Florida Transit Marketing Network, the Florida Operators Network, and the Florida DOT and the Florida Public Transportation Association

Task 3 Selective Consultation with National Transit Agencies

Similar to the efforts of Task 2, this task will focus on selective non-Florida public transportation agencies. The focus of this effort will be on the 28 large transit agencies previously identified in the MDT project detailed in the Background Statement and the results of the literature review.

Task 4 Compilation of Findings and Best Practices

Based upon the literature review, survey responses, and other agency contacts, this task will prepare an overview and compilation of the current practices utilized in the public transportation industry for service design standards, service performance measurements, and service evaluation methodologies.

This task will utilize the findings of the previous tasks to identify public transportation agencies that have well developed and successful bus transit service planning, specifically: service design standards, service performance measurements, and service evaluation methodology. A select number of these agencies and their methodologies will be examined in greater depth and documented in succinct “Best Practices” case study summaries. This may include on-site visits and/or follow up discussions with key agency representatives.

Task 5 Development of a Fixed Route Service Planning Model Methodology

The next task would be the development of a generic model approach and methodology that could be adapted and used by all Florida public transit agencies for bus transit service planning, specifically to include: service design standards, service performance measurements, and a service evaluation methodology. This would include flow charts, templates with a menu of choices allowing for locally developed standards to be inputted and other related work processes and techniques. The final end product would be a straight forward guide; with easy to utilize tools for transit service planning that could be adapted to conform to local practices, procedures, and operating environments.

Task 6 Final Report

The final task of the research will summarize the results of the previous tasks in order to develop a report on the “Best Practices In Transit Service Planning”. The report will be designed in a clear, concise summary format that will facilitate easy reading and application by public transit provider professionals.

A Power-Point presentation will also be developed to share the project findings with the Florida transit systems.

CUTR will coordinate the project with the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) and the Florida DOT to ensure the scope and activities are consistent with the Florida public transportation industry’s goals and objectives.

It is understood that travel by CUTR within the budget of the project, will be necessary for collecting information, and attending project review meetings and related conferences in order to gather and share information related to the project mission. Particular locations where CUTR staff may travel within the State of Florida include Tallahassee, Tampa, Orlando, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Jacksonville. Travel throughout the U.S. may include Washington D.C., Denver, San Diego, and Chicago.

III. Deliverables

Deliverables for this project will include the following:

Monthly Progress Reports – Monthly progress reports will be provided to the FDOT Project Manager and the Research Office. Reports will include the following sections:

1. Contract Number, Work Order Number and Title
2. Work done during the month
3. Work to be done in the following month
4. Requested modifications to Scope, Budget, or Schedule, as appropriate
5. An updated project progress schedule

Technical Memorandum 1 – Technical Memorandum 1 will summarize the findings of the first four tasks: the literature review, a summary of the bus transit service planning processes and procedures currently utilized in Florida transit agencies and select national transit properties, and compilation of the current practices and best practices.

Technical Memorandum 2 – Technical Memorandum 2, to be submitted at the end of Task 5, will detail a model approach and methodology that could be used and adapted by all Florida public transit agencies for bus transit service planning, specifically to include: service design standards, service performance measurements, and service evaluation methodology. The final end product would be a straight forward, easy to utilize tool for transit service planning.

Draft Final Report
Following the completion of Task 5 and Technical Memorandum 2, a Draft Final Report will be submitted for review.

The draft final report will be edited for grammar, clarity, organization, and readability prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The editor providing the review will sign a cover sheet attesting to such review prior to submission. It is expected that a well-written, high-quality report will be submitted. It is understood that reports failing to meet this requirement will summarily be rejected. The only changes allowable between the final draft and the final report will be those changes requested by the Project Manager and the Research Center.

Final Report
A minimum of 13 copies of the final report will be delivered to: Florida DOT, The Research Center, 605 Suwannee Street, MS 30, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450. A camera ready unbound original and an electronic copy in MS Word format on CD no later than the end date of the RWPO.

One electronic copy in MS Word format of a Summary of the Final Report to include the following four sections: Background, Objectives and Supporting Tasks, Finding and Conclusions, and the Benefit of the Project. The Summary shall be a separate document and should be approximately 500 words in length.

All Final Reports shall contain a completed Technical Report Documentation Form #F.1700.7, immediately after the title page.

All Final Reports published shall contain a page after the Report Documentation Form that states the following:

1) The opinions, findings and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the State of Florida Department of Transportation, or the U.S. Department of Transportation.
2) Prepared in cooperation with the State of Florida Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

All Final Reports should be bound with a front and back cover that is acceptable to the Department.
NOTE: All written deliverables will be submitted in electronic format to the Project Manager and the Research Center for processing. Electronic reports will be e-mailed to Sandra Bell at sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us. Hard copies will be sent to the following address:

Sandra Bell, Research Contracts Administrator
Florida Department of Transportation
605 Suwannee Street, MS 30
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450

 

IV.  Project Schedule

 

                                   
RESEARCH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
TASK J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J
Task 1                                    
Literature Review                                    
Task 2                                    
Consultation with Florida Transit Agencies                                    
Task 3                                    
Selective Consultation with National Transit Agencies                                    
Task 4                                    
Compilation of Findings and Best Practices                                    
Task 5                                    
Development of a Fixed Route Service Planning Model Methodology                                    
Task 6                                    
Final Report                                    

 

V.  Project Budget

 

Best Practices In Transit Service Planning

Budget Categories

State

Center Director Salary

$

Faculty Salaries

Admin. Staff Salaries

$   

Other Staff Salaries

$

Student Salaries

$  

Staff Benefits

Total Salaries and Benefits

Scholarships

$

Permanent Equipment

$

Expendable Property/Supplies

$  

Domestic Travel

$   

Foreign Travel

$

Other Direct Costs

$

Total Direct Costs

Indirect Costs

$   

Total Costs

 

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. Budget requests includes salaries for clerical and administrative staff, postage, telephone calls, office supplies, general purpose software, subscriptions, and/or memberships.

 

VI. Equipment

No equipment is envisioned to be purchased under this project.

VII. Travel

On-site interviews with transit agency service planning and operations personnel will occur at up to 9 transit agencies – in-state (6) and out-of-state (3) – and project management meetings in Tallahassee and Tampa. Out of state on-site visits will provide a perspective of leading U.S. transit agency’s policy and procedures related to bus transit service planning, specifically: service design standards, service performance measurements, and service evaluation methodology.

Specific details for the project trips (i.e., destinations and travelers) have not been finalized. Those determinations will be made upon the substantial completion of the literature review. Prior to making any trips, the Principal Investigators will contact the FDOT Project Manager to provide details on the researcher traveling and their destinations. Pre-approvals will be provided through email correspondence.

In the event all of the trips are not necessary and/or some of the money budgeted for travel is not expended, such surplus will be reallocated to salaries and benefits with the approval of the FDOT Project Manager.

VIII. Student Involvement

This research project will not utilize any graduate students or other research assistants.

 

 

 

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