The National Academies

TCRP A-39 [Completed]

Improving Transportation Network Efficiency Through Implementation of Transit-Supportive Roadway Strategies

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: Kittelson & Associates
Principal Investigator: Mr. Paul Ryus
Effective Date: 1/31/2013
Completion Date: 7/31/2015

With transportation demand outpacing capacity expansion in many regions, transportation networks and roadways are facing increasing congestion. The provision of transit-supportive strategies to reduce travel time, improve reliability, and provide operational cost savings is becoming increasingly important. Transportation management measures that obtain more capacity out of existing resources must be explored in order to provide financially viable transportation solutions. Transit-supportive strategies include both intersection treatments such as transit signal priority, special signal phasing, queue jump lanes and signals, bypass lanes and curb extensions, and roadway segment treatments such as exclusive or shared transit lanes within the travelled way, exclusive transitways (typically in the median), and corridor signal progressions favoring transit operations. Partnering of transit and highway/traffic agencies throughout the project development process is necessary but not sufficient; a clear understanding of the criteria for and costs and impacts of such strategies are critical to the implementation of transit-supportive strategies.
TCRP Synthesis 83: Bus and Rail Preferential Treatments in Mixed Traffic began the process of obtaining information on the type and extent of recent urban street transit-priority treatment implementation in North America, including some representative examples of successful transit and highway/traffic agency partnering strategies, and identified key areas for future research. It provided a partial updating of NCHRP Report 155: Bus Use of Highways: Planning and Design Guidelines.
Most transit and highway/traffic agencies still have neither formal transit preferential treatment programs nor formal intergovernmental agreements with respect to planning, design, construction, operations/maintenance, and performance monitoring of treatments. Research is needed to (a) identify processes for establishing transit preferential treatment needs on a spot improvement, corridor and regional scale, and (b) identify implementation strategies.
The objectives of this research are to (1) identify consistent and uniform strategies to improve transportation network efficiency to reduce delay and improve reliability for transit operations on roadways; (2) develop decision-making guidance for operational planning and functional design of transit/traffic operations on roads that provides information on warrants, costs, and impacts of strategies; (3) identify the components of model institutional structures and/or intergovernmental agreements for successful implementation; and (4) identify potential changes to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and related documents to facilitate implementation of selected strategies. 
This research will build on the information presented in TCRP Synthesis 83: Bus and Rail Transit Preferential Treatments in Mixed Traffic (see Special Note E).
Accomplishment of the project objectives will require at least the following tasks.
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The TCRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives.

(1). Based on a review of literature and current practice, identify, for transit systems, how decisions are made to implement (a) signals, signs, and markings and (b) geometric designs supportive of transit operations on streets and highways. (2). Based on a review of literature and current practice, identify, for highway/traffic agencies, how decisions are made to implement (a) signals, signs, and markings and (b) geometric designs supportive of transit operations on streets and highways. (3). Submit an interim report presenting the results of Tasks 1 and 2, as well as a detailed research plan for Phase II.


(4). Collect and analyze data to determine transit system and rider benefits, running-time and schedule-reliability benefits, operating cost reductions or avoidance of cost increases, and the experience of North American transit-supportive actions on streets and highways. Identify travel time and accessibility effects on roadway systems and users, including motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians (including those with disabilities). (5). Identify potential modifications related to warrants, standards, and guidance for the implementation of such transit-supportive actions on streets and highways as traffic signals; transit signal priority; transit queue-jump; signing; and pavement marking related to bus lanes. (6). Develop guidance on implementation of transit-supportive actions, addressing more definitive warrants on priority application, innovative approaches, a decision-making framework, and model intergovernmental agreements. Include a decision methodology to evaluate and prioritize candidate transit-supportive actions on streets and highways. The guidance will address concerns of transit agencies and traffic/highway agencies identified in Phase I.(7). Submit a final research report documenting the entire research effort. Include an updated PowerPoint presentation summarizing the entire project and an updated plan for implementing the modifications to policies identified through this research.

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