Management & Operations

Report shows how transit can complete projects quicker, cheaper

Posted on September 11, 2019

Los Angeles Metro's Purple Line extension project under construction.
Los Angeles Metro's Purple Line extension project under construction.Stantec

A newly released report shows how transit agencies and other entities are using innovative methods to get transit projects completed at a fraction of both the cost and time of conventional projects.

This first-of-its-kind study, authored by Miami-based urban planning firm Street Plans, focuses on how North American cities are increasingly turning to the Quick-Build methodology to expand transit options, improve existing service, and increase ridership.

Fast-Tracked: A Tactical Transit Study, released today by the Transportation Research Board of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, is a comprehensive look into projects that use low-cost materials and accelerated timelines to expand transit.

“Typical transit projects can cost millions of dollars and take decades to come to fruition,” said principal researcher Tony Garcia. “With a Quick-build approach to transit you can deliver transit service immediately, while longer-term planning takes place. For many of these projects, if the pilot had not been implemented, city residents might still be waiting for these improvements to take place.” Garcia noted that among the pilot projects studied in the report, 77% of were made, or are planned to be made permanent.

Tactical transit projects are those that are implemented within one to two years of inception, and cost under $200-300,000. Projects were divided into three categories based on their intended outcome: speed and reliability, access and safety, and rider experience.

Among the most notable findings were:

  • 6.7 miles of new, dedicated bus lanes piloted, with an average project timeline (conception to implementation) of 11 months.
  • Projects in the Speed + Reliability category saw transit travel time savings from 20%-50%, with the most common savings being 20%-30%.
  • Projects in the Access + Safety category showed increases in ridership of up to 17%.

The report details 20 bus and streetcar “Tactical Transit” projects that showed improvements to speed, access, ridership, and rider experience. Whether it’s transporting commuters faster from A to B, reconfiguring a roadway to increase safety for all users, or making simple improvements to provide a more comfortable ride, these projects produced positive results in the short-term, while longer-term planning continues.

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