Public Transit Improvements


TDM Encyclopedia

Victoria Transport Policy Institute


Updated 23 April 2018

This chapter describes ways to improve public transit service quality, including increased service speed, frequency, convenience, comfort, user information, affordability and ease of access.




Public Transit (also called Public Transportation, Urban Transit and Mass Transit) includes various services using shared vehicles to provide mobility to the public. These include:

·         Heavy rail relatively large, higher-speed trains, operating entirely on separate rights-of-way, with infrequent stops, providing service between communities.

·         Light Rail Transit (LRT) moderate size, medium-speed trains, operating mainly on separate rights-of-way, with variable distances between stations, providing service between urban neighborhoods and commercial centers.

·         Streetcars (also called trams or trolleys) relatively small, lower-speed trains, operating primarily on urban streets, with frequent stops which provide service along major urban corridors.

·         Conventional bus transit - full-size buses on fixed routes and schedules.

·         Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) premium quality bus service with features that typically include grade separation, frequent service, attractive stations, quick loading, and attractive vehicles.

·         Express commuter bus – direct bus service from residential to employment areas.

·         Ferry services.

·         Mini bus – smaller buses or large vans used for public transit.

·         Demand Response Paratransit – small buses or vans that provide direct (door-to-door) service, often intended primarily for people with disabilities.

·         Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) – small, automated vehicles that provide transit service on demand.

·         Shared Taxi.



Although Public Transit provides a relatively small portion of total travel, it provides a much larger portion of certain types of travel, and is an effective solution to certain transport problems. It is most suitable for medium-distance trips in urban areas or on any corridor with adequate demand, and as an alternative mode for travelers who for any reason cannot use a private automobile. It can support a variety of community development objectives. For more discussion see Transit Evaluation.


There are many ways to improve public transit service and Encourage transit ridership:


·         Increase service - more routes, increased frequency, and longer operating hours.


·         Improved coordination among modes - buses, trains, ferries and airports.


·         Transit Priority - bus lanes, queue-jumper lanes, bus-priority traffic signals, and other measures that reduce delay to transit vehicles. Grade separation so transit is not delayed by cross-streets and traffic congestion.


·         Reallocate Road Space to transit and walking.


·         Comfort improvements, such as reduced crowding, better seats and cleaner vehicles.


·         Improved Stops and Stations, including shelter (enclosed waiting areas, with heating in winter and cooling in summer), seating, Wayfinding and other Navigation Tools, washrooms, refreshments, Internet services, and other convenience and comfort features.


·         Lower fares and discounts, and more convenient fare payment (such as electronic “smart cards”).


·         Improved rider information and Marketing programs, including real-time information on transit vehicle arrival.


·         Transit Oriented Development and Smart Growth, which result in land use patterns more suitable for transit transportation.


·         Pedestrian and Cycling Improvements that improve access around transit stops.


·         Bike and Transit Integration (bike racks on buses, bike routes and Bicycle Parking near transit stops).


·         Universal Design of vehicles, stations and pedestrian facilities to accommodate people with disabilities and other special needs.


·         Park & Ride facilities.


·         Reform transport Regulations and Organizations to increase transit service efficiency and responsiveness.


·         Improved Security for transit users and pedestrians.


·         Multi-Modal Access Guides, which includes maps, schedules, contact numbers and other information on how to reach a particular destination by public transit.


·         Services targeting particular travel needs, such as express commuter buses, Special Event service, and various types of Shuttle Services.



Since transit service and automobile travel both impose significant costs (including indirect costs such as congestion, road wear and pollution emissions), improvements and incentives that increase transit load factors and attract travelers who would otherwise drive tend to provide large benefits. Described differently, there is little benefit to society from simply operating transit vehicles (excepting Option Value); most benefits depend on how much transit is used, how well the service responds to users’ needs and preferences, the amount of automobile travel displaced, and the various savings and benefits that result (including reduced vehicle ownership and operating cost, avoided roadway and parking facility expansion, increased safety, etc.).



How it is Implemented

Transit service improvements and Encouragement Programs are usually implemented by transit agencies, often with support from other government agencies and businesses. Major transit investments sometimes require voter approval. Some improvements, such as HOV lanes and Park-and-Ride facilities, are provided by roadway agencies. User comfort improvements and amenities on vehicles and at waiting areas (less crowding, more comfortable seats, washrooms, cleanliness, etc.) can increase improve transit service and attract riders (Kittleson & Associates 2013; TranSystem 2005).


Transit Oriented Development is usually implemented by local governments in conjunction with Smart Growth land use development plans. Shuttle Services are often managed by local non-profit organizations. Transit encouragement is often part of Commute Trip Reduction, Campus Trip Management and Tourist Transport Management programs. Regulatory Reforms may be needed to allow some types of innovative transit services and encourage competition. Public transit improvements may require Institutional Reforms, such as the creation of regional authorities with dedicated funding, Least Cost Planning to allow transit to compete for funding with highway investments, and more Comprehensive Planning that takes into account all transit benefits.



Travel Impacts

Travel impacts depend on the type of service and the conditions in which it is implemented. See Transit Evaluation, Pratt (1999), and Kittleson & Associates (2013) for more information on travel impacts. See Transportation Elasticities for information on how user prices affect transit use. See Bus Rapid Transit, Light Rail Transit and Shuttle Services for more information on the travel impacts and benefits of specific types of Transit.


TranSystem (2005) and Stanley and Hyman (2005) identify various factors and strategies that tend to increase transit ridership in an area, including improved service, reduced fares, Marketing and more integrated planning. Increased transit service and comfort, and reducing transit fares tends to increase transit ridership. The elasticity of transit use with respect to transit service frequency averages 0.5, meaning that each 1.0% increase in service (measured by transit vehicle mileage or operating hours) increases average ridership by 0.5% (Pratt 1999). The elasticity of transit use to service expansion (e.g. routes into new parts of a community already served by transit) is typically in the range of 0.6 to 1.0, meaning that each 1.0% of additional service increases ridership by 0.6-1.0%. New bus service in a community typically achieves 3 to 5 annual rides per capita, with 0.8 to 1.2 passengers per bus-mile. Ridership may be higher in some areas, such as university towns or suburbs with rail transit stations to feed. Comprehensive improvements, such as Light Rail or Bus Rapid Transit systems, can provide large increases in transit use and attract large numbers of discretionary riders who would otherwise travel by automobile.


Improved schedule information, easy-to-remember departure times (for example, every hour or half-hour), and more convenient transfers appear to increase transit use, particularly in areas where service is less frequent. The table below summarizes transit elasticity estimates. This can be used to predict how various types of changes in price and service are likely to affect transit ridership and travel behavior.


Table 1            Transit Elasticity Values (Transportation Elasticities)


Market Segment

Short Term

Long Term

Transit ridership WRT transit fares


–0.2 to –0.5

–0.6 to –0.9

Transit ridership WRT transit fares


–0.15 to –0.3

–0.4 to –0.6

Transit ridership WRT transit fares


–0.3 to –0.6

–0.8 to –1.0

Transit ridership WRT transit fares

Suburban Commuters

–0.3 to –0.6

–0.8 to –1.0

Transit ridership WRT transit service


0.50 to 0.7

0.7 to 1.1

Transit ridership WRT auto operating costs


0.05 to 0.15

0.2 to 0.4

Automobile travel WRT transit costs


0.03 to 0.1

0.15 to 0.3

This table summarizes estimates of transit elasticities. These values can be used to predict how price and service changes are likely to affect transit ridership and travel behavior.



Commuter Financial Incentives, in which employers subsidize transit passes, can provide the equivalent to fare reductions to commuters. A combination of transit improvements (fare reductions, service improvements, service expansion), Transit Encouragement programs, and complementary TDM strategies can be particularly effective at increasing transit ridership. Commute Trip Reduction programs, Parking Pricing and Commuter Financial Incentives encourage transit commuting. Campus Transport Management that include discounted transit passes and service improvements have tripled transit ridership in some college communities. The Trip Reduction Tables indicate the reduction in commute trips that can be expected from various combinations of financial incentives for transit and ridesharing. The Transport Elasticities chapter provides additional information on the travel impacts of various price changes.


Not all increased transit travel represents a reduction in automobile travel. A portion represents shifts from walking, cycling and ridesharing, or absolute increases in personal travel. On the other hand, some types of transit improvements lead to more Accessible land use, which reduces Automobile Dependency and per capita motor vehicle travel. As a result, residents of Transit Oriented Development tend to drive about 20% less than they would if they lived in conventional neighborhoods. Some studies indicate that this can leverage much greater reductions in vehicle travel than just the trips that shift from automobile to transit (Transit Evaluation). Of course, many factors influence how much a particular transit project affects land use and travel behavior. The Land Use Impacts chapter provides additional information on the travel impacts of various land use changes.


Table 2            Travel Impact Summary

Travel Impact



Reduces total traffic.


Can reduce automobile use.

Reduces peak period traffic.


Tends to be attractive for commute trips.

Shifts peak to off-peak periods.


Off-peak fare discounts induce some shifts.

Shifts automobile travel to alternative modes.



Improves access, reduces the need for travel.


Can encourage higher-density, clustered land use.

Increased ridesharing.



Increased public transit.



Increased cycling.


Can support cycling.

Increased walking.


Supports pedestrian travel.

Increased Telework.



Reduced freight traffic.



Rating from 3 (very beneficial) to –3 (very harmful). A 0 indicates no impact or mixed impacts.



Benefits And Costs

Weisbrod, et al. (2017) summarize methods for evaluating public transit benefits. The table below summarizes specific benefit categories. Most direct benefits of transit services can be divided into two major categories: Mobility benefits result from increased travel by people who are economically, physically and socially disadvantaged. Efficiency benefits result from reduced vehicle traffic when inefficient automobile travel shifts to more efficient transit travel. The Evaluating Transit chapter provides more information about these impacts, describes how to measure them, and how to evaluate a particular transit policy or program.


Table 3            Transit Costs and Benefits (Evaluating Transit)

Impact Category


Transit Service Costs

Financial costs of providing transit services


Direct payments by transit users.


Government expenses to provide transit services.

Existing User Impacts

Incremental benefits and costs to existing transit users (changes in travel speed, comfort, safety, etc. to existing transit users).

Mobility Benefits

Benefits from increased travel that would not otherwise occur.

Direct User Benefits

Direct benefits to users from increased mobility.

Public Services

Support for public services and cost savings for government agencies.


Increased productivity from improved access to education and jobs.


Improved mobility that makes people who are also economically, socially or physically disadvantaged relatively better off.

Option Value

Benefits of having mobility options available, in case they are ever needed.

Efficiency Benefits

Benefits from reduced motor vehicle traffic.

Vehicle Costs

Changes in vehicle ownership, operating and residential parking costs.


Reduced chauffeuring responsibilities by drivers for non-drivers.

Vehicle Delays

Reduced motor vehicle traffic congestion.

Pedestrian Delays

Reduced traffic delay to pedestrians.

Parking Costs

Reduced parking problems and non-residential parking facility costs.

Safety, Security and Health

Changes in crash costs, personal security and improved health and fitness due to increased walking and cycling.

Roadway Costs

Changes in roadway construction, maintenance and traffic service costs.

Energy and Emissions

Changes in energy consumption, air, noise and water pollution.

Travel Time Impacts

Changes in transit users’ travel time costs.

Land Use Impacts

Benefits from changes in land use patterns.

Transportation Land

Changes in the amount of land needed for roads and parking facilities.

Land Use Objectives

Supports land use objectives such as infill, efficient public services, clustering, accessibility, land use mix, and preservation of ecological and social resources.

Economic Development

Benefits from increased economic productivity and employment.


Jobs and business activity created by transit expenditures.

Shifted Expenditures

Increased regional economic activity due to shifts in consumer expenditures to goods with greater regional employment multipliers.

Agglomeration Economies

Productivity gains due to more clustered, accessible land use patterns.

Transportation Efficiencies

More efficient transport system due to economies of scale in transit service, more accessible land use patterns, and reduced automobile dependency.

Land Value Impacts

Higher property values in areas served by public transit.

This table summarizes major categories of transit service costs and benefits.



Although transit provides a relatively small portion of total travel, it tends to be concentrated in dense urban areas where motor vehicle external costs are high. As a result, it can provide significant benefits from congestion reductions, road and parking facility cost savings, user cost savings, efficient land use, and environmental protection. Transit can help create a more Resilient transportation system that can accommodate unpredictable change.


Where transit is a catalyst for Smart Growth land use it can provide a variety of indirect benefits, including Increased Property Values and improved community Livability near transit stations, and increased Economic Development. These benefits can be substantial, in some cases offsetting a significant portion of transit service public costs (Smith and Gihring 2003).


EDRG (2007) used quantitative analysis to estimate that the current Chicago region transit plan provides an estimated 21% annual return on investments, an enhanced plan provides a 34% return, and adopting Transit-Oriented Development, as proposed in the region’s official comprehensive plan, would increase the return to 61%. Failure to maintain the transit system will harm the region’s commuters and the economy, estimated at over $2 billion annually.


The public costs of providing transit depend on many factors, including the type of transit service, traffic conditions and ridership. Transit service is generally subsidized (see discussion of costs and subsidies in Transit Evaluation), but these subsidies decline with increased ridership because transit services tend to experience economies of scale (a 10% increase in capacity increases costs by less than 10%). Transit Encouragement strategies that increase ridership and system load factors (the portion of system capacity that is used) can be very cost effective.


Table 4            Benefit Summary




Congestion Reduction


Reduces automobile use on congested corridors.

Road & Parking Savings


Reduces road space and parking requirements. Buses may increase road wear costs.

Consumer Savings


Provides affordable mobility.

Transport Choice


Increases transport choice for non-drivers.

Road Safety


Tends to be safer than driving overall.

Environmental Protection


Tends to reduce air pollution.

Efficient Land Use


Tends to discourage sprawl.

Community Livability


Contributes to neighborhood livability.

Rating from 3 (very beneficial) to –3 (very harmful). A 0 indicates no impact or mixed impacts.



Equity Impacts

Transit service is an important strategy for improving Transportation Choice and providing Basic Mobility, particularly for non-drivers. Public transit can be used by anyone who pays the fare, although any particular transit service benefits some people more than others. For example, commuter rail improvements tend to benefit suburban residents, local bus service improvements tend to benefit urban residents, and special mobility services tend to benefit people with special transportation needs.


Transit improvements (especially local bus service) tend to provide Affordable mobility to low-income and transportation disadvantaged populations. Transit services in smaller communities and during off-peak periods are justified primarily to achieve these objectives. Transit services targeted to serve the needs of people who are economically, socially and physically disadvantaged can provide extra equity benefits.


Transit improvements often require public subsidies, but these are often comparable or smaller than subsidies for automobile travel when all costs are considered (Transportation Costs). Transit subsidies tend to be relatively high per passenger-mile, but relatively low per passenger-year, because transit users tend to travel fewer miles per year than car drivers. As a result, transit dependent people tend to receive less subsidy per capita than motorists (Transit Evaluation).


Table 5            Equity Summary




Treats everybody equally.


Provides benefits that are valued by most groups.

Individuals bear the costs they impose.


Requires subsidies, but often less than for driving.

Progressive with respect to income.


Provides affordable mobility for lower-income people.

Benefits transportation disadvantaged.


Provides mobility for non-drivers.

Improves basic mobility.


Provides basic mobility.

Rating from 3 (very beneficial) to –3 (very harmful). A 0 indicates no impact or mixed impacts.




Efficient public transit requires, and can help create, more accessible land use patterns, with nodes of density, called Transit Oriented Development or Urban Villages, were transit users can walk to destinations. As an area becomes more urbanized (denser, more mixed land use, higher land prices, and less unpriced parking), transportation diversity tends to increase, with a greater portion of trips by walking, cycling and public transit (Land Use Impacts on Transport). Transit typically carries 20-60% of peak-period commuters to central business districts.


Transit service improvements may be appropriate in a wide range of situations, although the type of service can vary depending on conditions. For example, rural areas may rely on subsidized taxi and demand-response transit, while urban areas will rely more on fixed route bus and rail. Transit improvements are usually planned by regional and local government agencies, often with federal and state/provincial support. State/provincial governments can implement Regulatory Reforms that encourage innovative transit services. Businesses can provide various incentives for transit use through Commute Trip Reduction programs, and developers can implement Transit Oriented Development. Private companies provide some transit services, such as jitney and some express commuter service.


Table 6            Application Summary





Large urban region.


Federal government.


High-density, urban.


State/provincial government.


Medium-density, urban/suburban.


Regional government.




Municipal/local government.


Low-density, rural.


Business Associations/TMA.


Commercial center.


Individual business.


Residential neighborhood.




Resort/recreation area.


Neighborhood association.






Ratings range from 0 (not appropriate) to 3 (very appropriate).




Improved Transport Choice



Relationships With Other TDM Strategies

Transit service improvements support and are supported by most other TDM strategies, particularly Commute Trip Reduction programs, Transit Oriented Development, Smart Growth, Nonmotorized Transportation Planning, and New Urbanism. Shuttle Services  are a category of public transit. Transit service improvements are usually more cost effective when matched with Transit Encouragement programs and incentives for motorists to reduce their driving, such as Commute Financial Incentives, Distance-Based Fees, Parking Pricing and Road Pricing. Transit sometimes competes with other alternative modes, particularly Ridesharing.




Transit improvements depend on the support various government agencies. They sometimes require public support for additional funding. Some types of transit improvements require the support of businesses or local residents. Patrons and labor organizations are also affected by transit decisions.



Barriers To Implementation

Major barriers to improved public transit service include limited funds, automobile oriented land use, policies that underprice automobile travel (which makes transit relatively less competitive), and stigma that is sometimes associated with transit use.



Best Practices

Government agencies (such as the Federal Transit Administration) and professional organizations (such as the American Transit Association) provide a variety of resources concerning best practices in transit planning and operations. Comprehensive transit planning should:


·         Integrate transit and land use planning, pedestrian and cycling improvements (for access to transit stops), and TDM programs that provide incentives to use public transit.


·         Consider transit agencies “mobility service providers”, not just bus operators. They should search for innovative ways to improve mobility and access, such as rideshare matching, Transit Oriented Development and vanpools.


·         Reflect the multiple objectives that can be addressed by public transit, including mobility (improved travel choices for transportation disadvantaged people) and efficiency (reduced traffic congestion, road and parking facility cost savings, consumer savings, crash reductions, environmental protection and more efficient land use).


·         Use innovative Marketing techniques, price discounts and new fare collection methods (such as “smart cards”) to attract new riders.


·         Identify and respond to the various market segments that they can serve, including Basic Mobility for people who are transportation disadvantaged, and fast, convenient travel for urban commuters.


·         Consider alternative services, such as Paratransit and subsidized taxies, to provide mobility services in lower-density areas and during off-peak times.



Wit and Humor

The following announcements were heard in the London subway system and reported by visitors to the Going Underground website ( talk).


Heard at Earl’s Court:

“The train at platform three is not going to Parsons Green but to Richmond. The train approaching platform two is also not going to Parsons Green but to Ealing Broadway. These trains are not going to Parsons Green despite what the signal men think.”


On the Northern Line:

“Beggars are operating on this train, please do NOT encourage these professional beggars, if you have any spare change, please give it to a registered charity, failing that, give it to me.”


On the Piccadilly Line:

“To the gentleman wearing the long grey coat trying to get on the second carriage, what part of ‘stand clear of the doors’ don’t you understand?”


At Leyton station where a train was stationary despite a green light:

“Sorry for the delay ladies and gentlemen but there is a queue of trains ahead of us so I have decided to wait here, because I’m sure you don’t want to sit in a tunnel getting hot and sweaty”


On the Central line:

“Next time, you might find it easier to wait until the doors are open before trying to get on the train”


At King’s Cross:

“This train is completely broken, it isn’t going anywhere”


On the Victoria line:

“This is Brixton, err, no, it’s Victoria!”

“This is like that TV advert, I hope the person next to you is wearing a good deodorant!”

“Have a very relaxing weekend. Hope to see you all again Monday morning!”


At Camden town station on a crowded Saturday afternoon:

‘Please let the passengers off the train first...

Please let the passengers off the train first...

Please let the passengers off the train first...

Let the passengers off the train FIRST!...

Oh go on then, stuff yourselves in like sardines, see if I care, I’m going home.’


At Moorgate after a 20-minute delay:

“I apologise for the delay but the computer controlling the signalling at Aldgate and Whitechapel has the Monday Morning Blues”


At Mill Hill East:

“Hello this is xxx speaking, I am the captain of your train, and we will be departing shortly, we will be cruising at an altitude of approximately zero feet, and our scheduled arrival time in Morden is 3:15pm. The temperature in Morden is approximately 15 degrees Celsius, and Morden is in the same time zone as Mill Hill east, so there’s no need to adjust your watches.”


On a delayed train at Epping, when the driver had a chat with a colleague unaware that he’d left the tannoy on:

“Rollocks to the lot of them, I don’t care if they don’t make it to work.”


On the Jubilee line on a Monday evening

“Good evening ladies and gentleman, this is your driver Gary speaking. Just to inform you that there is a problem on the Jubilee line in that all trains are running to time with no delays. We hope to be able to rectify this shortly.”



Case Studies and Examples

For case studies and examples of many different types of successful transit improvements see the Center for Transportation Excellence (; “Light Rail Transit Success Stories” (, Pratt (1999), CIT (2001), TRB (2001) and TranSystem (2005).



Portland, Oregon (

Portland, Oregon has implemented several successful transit projects including the MAX regional rail system, Portland Streetcar, Intercity Passenger Rail, TDM programs and the OHSU tramway. Portland’s transit agency, Tri-Met, has produced a Community Building Sourcebook ( which describes many of the projects, plans, programs and organizations that make the Portland region a national model for linking land use and transportation initiatives. They have implemented many support strategies, including, Walking and Cycling Improvements, Transit Encouragement programs, and Transit Oriented Development. The cumulative effects of these improvements has been significant.



Boulder (

Starting in 1989, the city of Boulder, Colorado began implementing a demonstration transit service using a fleet of small, colorfully designed buses to provide high frequency, inexpensive and direct service within the city. And thus, the first Community Transit Network bus, the HOP, was born. Today, there are six bus routes in the Community Transit Network — HOP, SKIP, JUMP, BOUND, DASH and STAMPEDE. All have a unique identity and amenities shaped with community input and direction. In 1990, Transit ridership was about 5,000 riders daily for all local and regional routes in and out of Boulder. In 2002, ridership averaged about 26,000 daily, a 500% increase. The city of Boulder is partnering with the city of Longmont and Boulder County to add another high-frequency bus route on Highway 119, scheduled to begin in 2004.


Benefits of the Community Transit Network:

·         Provides a convenient transit alternative to the single occupancy vehicle.

·         Uses neighborhood-scaled vehicles to fit the context of Boulder.

·         Strengthens the local economy by providing easy access around Boulder and to and from surrounding communities.

·         Provides wheelchair accessible transportation.

·         Reduces air pollution by using clean-burning fuels.

·         Alleviates traffic congestion and minimizes the need for roadway expansion.

·         Provides reliable, high frequency service.

·         Operates clean, comfortable, human-scaled vehicles, with special amenities such as music.

·         Promotes a positive transit image with attractive vehicles and on-going marketing support.

·         Accepts Eco Passes (transit passes for students and residents of certain neighborhoods).

·         Includes bike racks, holding two bikes at one time, allow for integration of travel.


In November, 2000, residents of the Forest Glen neighborhood in the city of Boulder voted to form a General Improvement District (GID) to provide RTD transit passes for all neighborhood residents. All Forest Glen residents are eligible to receive an RTD Eco Pass, including home owners and renters. These passes are paid for by residents in the Forest Glen as part of their annual property tax. The RTD Eco Pass allows unlimited riding on all RTD buses, Light Rail service to Denver International Airport, and Eldora Mountain Resort buses.



Connected Bus (

The Connected Bus is a project to use new technologies to make bus transit systems more efficient and attractive. It can help standardize technological systems between transit equipment producers, operators and users. The Connected Bus incorporates the following technologies and services:



Commuter Transit Catching on in Phoenix

Bob Golfen, The Arizona Republic, 14 July 2004


Whether they're saving money on gas or reducing commuter stress, thousands of commuters have embraced Valley Metro's RAPID bus service since it began last year. Using specially built buses with padded, high-back seats; individual air controls; and  luggage racks, four Phoenix bus routes take passengers on non-stop, rush-hour freeway rides from the edges of the city to downtown on weekdays.


RAPID celebrates its first anniversary today with a growing ridership and generally positive results from a recent Valley Metro survey of riders. "I save $75 a month on gas and I save myself the stress of dangerous driving habits from other drivers," wrote RAPID rider John Walradt of northeast Phoenix in his survey  response.


Opening day was inauspicious, with the first run from the Park and Ride at Bell Road and Arizona 51 carrying just two riders. A couple of hundred people tried RAPID during the course of the day. Now, RAPID counts more than 2,600 passenger boardings.


"We didn't think we would have so many people so soon," said Marie Chappell, spokeswoman for Valley Metro, which operates the bus service in conjunction with Phoenix Public Transit.


RAPID was instituted as part of the Phoenix Transit Plan, passed by voters in March  2000. Fifty-six distinctive-looking buses built for freeway travel were purchased through the funding, and eight Park and Ride lots were built. The service started with two routes, a northeast Phoenix line that uses Arizona 51 and an Ahwatukee route that runs up Interstate 10. Two more routes have been added, a north Phoenix route that operates on Interstate 17 and a west Phoenix route on I-10. Each route includes about a dozen closely spaced bus trips designed to get people to work on time in the morning and take them home at night. Valley Metro hopes to expand the service to other areas.


Many riders consider RAPID to be the executive bus line, compared with the regular public-transit buses that ply city streets. "It's a lot faster, a lot more comfortable and has a lot higher clientele," said Kevin Gray of north Phoenix, who has been riding RAPID since November. "There are a lot of professional people on the bus."


Gray, who gets a ride from his wife to the Bell Road and Arizona 51 stop, said the trip takes about a half-hour to arrive at the Central Avenue and Van Buren Street terminal. That bus makes a subsequent stop at the Arizona Capitol.


As part of RAPID's first anniversary, Valley Metro has produced four publications, one for each route, that will be handed out to riders. Each flier, which looks like a tabloid newspaper, includes stories about drivers and riders, survey results and route information. One of the vignettes in the Ahwatukee route publication tells how Burt Jorgensen, chief of the Maricopa County Attorney's Trial Bureau, uses RAPID not only to save on gas but to save on the cost of an automobile. His 16-year-old daughter drives him to the Park and Ride at 40th Street and Pecos Road in the morning and gets to keep the car. "She is able to have the car during the day, and I didn't have to buy her one," Jorgensen said.



Innovative Strategies To Increase Ridership Website (

The U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has developed an interactive website/database that includes dozens of examples of successful innovative programs that have increased ridership. These include improvements in service, fare collection, marketing, vehicles, coordination with other organizations, intermodal activities, operator training, and security. Detailed descriptions are provided for each program, including the type of program, size of service area, and impact on ridership.



Bus Rapid Transit Service Being Developed (

A new type of public transit service, called EmX, is being developed using a new type of 60-foot articulated bus with hybrid-electric propulsion. The program is being implemented by the Lane Transit District (in central Oregon) and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (in central Ohio). Service is scheduled to begin in late 2006. The system includes the following features to improve service quality and efficiency:



Free Transit (

In 1997, funding from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) Transportation Solutions Grant Program allowed Missoula, Montana’s Mountain Line transit service to offer free summer fares to the town’s youths, and for everybody during monthly “Try A Better Way Days,” during an annual “Free Fare” week, and during periods of bad air quality. Transit ridership increased 66% from 1996 to 1997.



Suburban Luxury Bus Express

Cleveland’s RTA provides express bus service between downtown and suburban park-and-ride lots. Special buses are used that have upholstered high-back seats that recline, individual reading lights and overhead storage racks on new city buses. The vehicles mark a considerable change from the plastic vandalism-resistant seats currently on many urban buses. These luxury features cost the agency an extra $100,000 per bus.



Hampton Luxury Liner Premium Bus Services (

Hampton Luxury Liner offers scheduled and charter service between New York city and resort communities in 21-passenger luxury motor coaches. Each motor coach is equipped with leather reclining captains chairs providing wider seating, generous legroom and individual armrests for maximum comfort. Passengers can enjoy current movies and radio. Bus interiors are custom designed with upholstered walls and ceilings, walnut trim, window shades, carpeted floors, designated hanging garment storage, and a restroom. Each motor coach has a rear galley equipped with a refrigerator serving complimentary bottled water, assorted soft drinks and snacks.



References and Resources for More Information



AllTransit ( is a multi-facetted transit performance index system that provides quantitative data on transit connectivity, access, and frequency for 805 U.S. transit agencies. This information can be used transit service and transit-oriented development evaluation and planning.


Jeffrey Ang-Olson and Anjali Mahendra (2011), Cost/Benefit Analysis Of Converting A Lane For Bus Rapid Transit—Phase II Evaluation And Methodology, Research Results Digest 352, National Highway Research Program; at


APTA (Annual Reports), Transit Fact Book, American Public Transit Association ( Provides information on public transit in the U.S., including data on ridership, operating costs, cost efficiency, and fares 


G.B. Arrington, et al. (2008), Effects of TOD on Housing, Parking, and Travel, Report 128, Transit Cooperative Research Program (


Jeffrey Brown and Gregory L. Thompson (2009), The Influence of Service Planning Decisions on Rail Transit Success or Failure, Mineta Transportation Institute (; at


Ralph Buehler and John Pucher (2010), “Making Public Transport Financially Sustainable,” Transport Policy, Vol. 18; at


CODATU (2009), Who Pays What for Urban Transport? Handbook Of Good Practices, Cooperation For Urban Mobility In The Developing World (; at


CTOD (2009), Destinations Matter: Building Transit Success, Center for Transit Oriented Development, Reconnecting America (; at


EDF (2009), Reinventing Transit: American Communities Finding Smarter, Cleaner, Faster Transportation Solutions, The Environmental Defense Fund (; at


EDRG (2007), Time is Money: The Economic Benefits of Transit Investment, Economic Development Research Group for the Chicago RTA (


EMBARQ (2012), Evaluate, Enable, Engage: Principles to Support Effective Decision Making in Mass Transit Investment Programs, EMBARQ (; at


EMBARQ India (2014), Bus Karo 2.0 – Case Studies from India, EMBARQ India (; at


FTA (annual reports), National Transit Database Federal Transit Administration, USDOT (


Google Transit Trip Planner ( provides public transit route planning and schedule information in participating cities.


Susan Handy, Steve Spears and Marlon G. Boarnet (2014), Policy Brief on the Impacts of Transit Service Strategies Based on a Review of the Empirical Literature, for Research on Impacts of Transportation and Land Use-Related Policies, California Air Resources Board (


Lyndon Henry and Todd Litman (2006), Evaluating New Start Transit Program Performance: Comparing Rail And Bus, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Dario Hidalgo and Aileen Carrigan (2010), Modernizing Public Transportation: Lessons Learned From Major Bus Improvements In Latin America And Asia, EMBARQ (; at


ITF (2012), Towards Seamless Public Transport, International Transport Forum (; at discusses ways to provide ‘seamless’ public transport in its planning, design, and operation. 


Kittleson & Associates (2013), Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual – Third Edition, TCRP Web Document 165, Transit Cooperative Research Program, TRB (; at


Todd Litman (2004b), “Transit Price Elasticities and Cross-Elasticities,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 7, No. 2, ( 7-2 Litman.pdf), pp. 37-58; at


Todd Litman (2004), Rail Transit in America: Comprehensive Evaluation of Benefits, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at; summarized in “Impacts of Rail Transit on the Performance of a Transportation System,” Transportation Research Record 1930, Transportation Research Board (, 2005 pp. 23-29.


Todd Litman (2005), Evaluating Rail Transit Criticism, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at Summarized in “Evaluating Rail Transit Benefits: A Comment,” Transport Policy, Vol. 14, No. 1 (, January 2007, pp. 94-97.


Todd Litman (2008), “Valuing Transit Service Quality Improvements,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 11, No. 2, Spring, pp. 43-64; at; a more complete version is at


Todd Litman (2008), Build for Comfort, Not Just Speed: Valuing Service Quality Impacts In Transport Planning, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2010), Raise My Taxes, Please! Evaluating Household Savings From High Quality Public Transit Service, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2010), “Terrorism, Transit and Public Safety: Evaluating The Risks,” Public Transport International, UITP (; Jan/Feb.; pp. 20-21; at


Todd Litman (2010), Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits, American Public Transportation Association (; at   


Todd Litman (2010), Contrasting Visions of Urban Transport: Critique of “Fixing Transit: The Case For Privatization”, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2010), The Selfish Automobile, Planetizen (; at  


Todd Litman (2011), Smart Congestion Relief: Comprehensive Analysis Of Traffic Congestion Costs and Congestion Reduction Benefits, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at; an earlier version published as “Evaluating Rail Transit Benefits: A Comment,” Transport Policy, Vol. 14, No. 1 (, January 2007, pp. 94-97. Also published as “Smart Traffic Congestion Reductions: Comprehensive Analysis of Congestion Costs and Congestion Reduction Benefits,” Traffic Infra Tech, Oct-Nov 2011, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 42-46 (; at .


Todd Litman (2011), Evaluating Public Transit Benefits and Costs, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2012), Toward More Comprehensive and Multi-modal Transport Evaluation, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2014), Critique of “Transit Utilization and Traffic Congestion: Is There a Connection?” Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2014), “Evaluating Public Transportation Local Funding Options,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 43-74 (; more complete version at


Todd Litman (2014), “A New Transit Safety Narrative,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 114-135; at; more complete report at


Todd Litman (2016), The Hidden Traffic Safety Solution: Public Transportation, American Public Transportation Association (; at


Todd Litman and Steve Fitzroy (2006), Safe Travels: Evaluating Mobility Management Safety Benefits, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman and Tom Rickert (2005), Evaluating Public Transit Accessibility: ‘Inclusive Design’ Performance Indicators For Public Transportation In Developing Countries, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Oliver Mietzsch (2010), Non-Fiscal Instruments of Public Transit Infrastructure Funding: Experiences in the United States and Lessons for German Cities, KSV-Verlag ( ; report at


NextBus ( is a private company that uses Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to provide real-time transit vehicle arrival information to passengers and managers in various North American cities.


NZTA (2010), Public Transport Network Planning: A Guide to Best Practice in NZ Cities, Research Report 396, New Zealand Transport Agency (; at


Gloria Ohland and Shelley Poticha (2006), Street Smart: Streetcars and Cities in the Twenty-First Century, Reconnecting America ( ).


Richard H. Pratt (1999-2007), Travel Response To Transportation System Changes, TCRP Report 95, Transportation Research Board (; at


Reconnecting America (2004), Hidden In Plain Sight: Capturing The Demand For Housing Near Transit, Center for Transit-Oriented Development; Reconnecting America; Federal Transit Administration (; at  


Jeffery J. Smith and Thomas A. Gihring (2003), Financing Transit Systems Through Value Capture: An Annotated Bibliography, Geonomy Society (; at


Robert G. Stanley and Robert Hyman (2005), Evaluation Of Recent Ridership Increases, TCRP Research Results Digest 69, Transportation Research Board (


Strategic Policy Options for Sustainable Development Database (, Research on Innovative and Strategic Policy Options (RISPO) by the Institute for Global Environmental Studies provides information, recommended best practices and case studies on a wide range of sustainable policies and strategies.


TDM Resource Center (1996), Transportation Demand Management; A Guide to Including TDM Strategies in Major Investment Studies and in Planning for Other Transportation Projects, Office of Urban Mobility, WSDOT (


TranSystems Corporation (2007), Elements Needed to Create High Ridership Transit Systems: Interim Guidebook, TCRP Report 111, Transportation Research Board (; at


TRB (2013), Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual, Third Edition, Transportation Research Board (; at


Tri-Met (2002), Community Building Sourcebook, Tri-Met, Portland Oregon Transit Agency (


TRB (2001), Making Transit Work; Insights from Western Europe, Canada and the United States, Special Report 257, TRB (, National Academy Press.


USDOT (2010), Advancing Metropolitan Planning for Operations: The Building Blocks of a Model Transportation Plan Incorporating Operations - A Desk Reference, Planning for Operations, US Department of Transportation (; at


Glen Weisbrod, et al. (2017), Practices for Evaluating the Economic Impacts and Benefits of Transit, TCRP Synthesis 128, Transportation Research Board (; at


Lloyd Wright (2007), “Bus Rapid Transit,” module in the Sustainable Transport: A Sourcebook for Policy-makers in Developing Cities, published by the Sustainable Urban Transport Project – Asia (, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (, and the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (; at  



American Public Transit Association ( provides extensive information on public transit issues.


Center for Urban Transportation Research ( provides TDM materials and classes and publishes TMA Clearinghouse Quarterly.


Center for Transportation Excellence ( provide research materials, strategies and other forms of support on the benefits of public transportation.


Commuter Choice Program ( provides information, materials and incentives for developing employee commute trip reduction programs.


Federal Transit Administration ( provides a variety of resources for transit planning.


Innovative Strategies To Increase Ridership Website (


International Union of Public Transport ( is an international organization that supports public transit.


Public Transit ( provides information on public transit planning, evaluation and advocacy.


Reconnecting America ( is a national organization that works to coordinate transportation networks and the communities they serve. Their Resource Center ( contains more than 500 research papers and reports related to TOD, tagged by subject. 


Transit Website Database ( catalogues transit agencies that provide information through the Internet.

This Encyclopedia is produced by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute to help improve understanding of Transportation Demand Management. It is an ongoing project. Please send us your comments and suggestions for improvement.




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