The National Academies

TCRP H-49 [Completed]

Improving Transit Integration Among Multiple Transit Providers

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
(includes 2 months for TCRP review and approval of intermediate products, 1 month for TCRP review and approval of the interim report, and 3 months for TCRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Research Agency: Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Gail Murray
Effective Date: 1/2/2013
Completion Date: 12/1/2014


Consumer travel today knows no boundaries; however, public transportation providers operate within boundaries. As a result, many consumers are unable to travel using public transportation without facing challenges related to these boundaries. Is integration and coordination a key aspect to overcoming those challenges?

More than 90% of U.S. public transportation riders are served by systems that interface with at least one other public transportation provider. This condition occurs especially in larger metropolitan areas, but is also true in smaller communities. Individual travel needs often extend beyond the service area of a single public transportation agency, yet full coordination of operations and services to meet those travel needs is the exception in the United States. This is in contrast to the seamlessness that exists in our street and road systems, where every city, county and state government is responsible for portions of the system; yet, the connected system allows an individual to drive from any point to any point without regard to the multiple agencies involved. In some cases, lack of public transportation integration results in inferior service to existing customers and lost opportunities to attract new customers. In other cases, duplicative services offered by multiple organizations waste resources that could be deployed more effectively. Efforts to improve integration have often generated significant increases in transit ridership; however, at times those efforts have been piecemeal, generally focusing on only one element of integration, such as fares. In other developed countries, a comprehensive or universal approach to integration is more common.


The objective of this research is two-fold: (1) to conduct original research and prepare a report that identifies and documents the motivations, benefits, and barriers to public transportation coordination and integration that facilitates seamless travel, reflecting the viewpoints of all stakeholders; and (2) based on that report, to provide guidance on how to integrate and coordinate delivery of a public transportation system in a multi-service region.


The primary function of public transportation is to provide mobility, i.e., to move people, thereby providing access to employment, health care, education, entertainment, and other destinations and services. It is generally believed that current and potential riders desire convenient, seamless, easy-to-use public transportation which serves the origins and destinations of trips quickly and with minimum complexity. The beginning point of this research is to determine whether public transportation integration is a necessary part of meeting these desires. Issues which may affect the value of and ability to support, implement, and enhance public transportation integration and which may be considered in framing this research could include, but are not limited to, the following:
  1. What motivates the desire for integration?
  2. What trade-offs are necessary to achieve that integration, and how can agencies and consumers address those trade-offs?
  3. When is integration “good”—what are the potential benefits and costs?
  4. How are benefits and costs measured?
  5. What are the barriers to implementing integration?
  6. What are the mechanisms to overcome these barriers?
In the context of this research, integration and coordination includes a broad range of issues affecting public transportation. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
  1. Service and operations,
  2. Fare policy,
  3. Customer services and information,
  4. Signage and wayfinding,
  5. Technologies,
  6. Modal connections,
  7. Long-range and capital planning,
  8. Funding and revenue sharing,
  9. Administrative services,
  10. Assets and infrastructure, and
  11. Partnerships.
The research plan should include a proposed detailed scope of work:
  1. Work proposed must be divided into tasks, and proposers must describe in detail the work proposed in each task;
  2. The proposal must include a description of proposed deliverables for each task or group of tasks along with a detailed project schedule.
In addition, the research plan should build in appropriate checkpoints with the TCRP panel, including, at a minimum, (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the “Notice to Proceed,” (2) one face-to-face interim report review meeting, and (3) web-enabled teleconferences tied to panel review and TCRP approval of other interim deliverables as appropriate throughout the research program.

The final deliverables will include a final report, documenting the entire research effort, and other deliverables as described in the detailed scope of work. Deliverables should also include an executive summary that can be used to present key issues and conclusions to critical stakeholders.

STATUS: The Transit Integration Manual and Research Report have been published online.  .

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