The National Academies

TCRP J-05/Topic 22-01 [Pending]

Bus Stop Design and Location: Legal Impact on Tort and Civil Rights Lawsuits
[ TCRP J-05 (Legal Aspects of Transit and Intermodal Transportation Programs) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Contract Time: 18 months
Staff Responsibility: Gwen Chisholm-Smith


The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) plans to award a contract for a study and report. Legal reports sponsored by this project are published in TCRP's Legal Research Digest (LRD) series. Publications are available to some libraries and approximately 4,000 transportation lawyers and officials through the TRB distribution network.


Public transportation agencies strive to offer safe, clean, courteous, and accessible services and facilities for their customers' safety, convenience, and comfort. The location of bus stops can impact the safety and usability of public transit services. Reported incidents, accidents, and injuries at bus stops vary greatly and impact transit agencies of every size.

The issue of liability due to negligent bus stop design and planning or unsafe and unmaintained bus stops can be challenging for property and liability insurers. There is limited guidance on bus stop design and federal requirements for fair and equitable access to transit facilities.

Local governmental authorities, including transit agencies, may be immune from tort liability under governmental immunity provisions. However, negligent location and upkeep of bus stops may fall outside exceptions from immunity, making the local government or transit agency liable for accidents and injuries at bus stops.  Bus stops can create legal issues associated with ownership, maintenance, accessibility, accommodations, and environment.  

There is a need to update TCRP LRD 24: Transit Bus Stops: Ownership, Liability, and Access (2008), which presents transit providers and government officials with information on the different levels of ownership, liability, and maintenance associated with bus stops and bus shelters; identifies the categories of legal issues associated with ownership and liability; and provides information on the problems and practices of others who have dealt with such matters, including protective provisions in franchise agreements and service provider contracts. TCRP LRD 24 focuses on the Americans with Disabilities Act. This research should consider bus stop siting consistent with equity principles and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 


The objective of this research is to produce a digest for lawmakers and public transportation agencies and their attorneys that provides practical advice and summarizes the laws relevant to decision-making about siting for fixed-route bus stops, including shelters. Generally, the research should be limited to services operated in mixed traffic, not bus rapid transit on a separate guideway. This research will result in (1) a summary of case law, municipal and State codes, and other legal developments since the publication of TCRP LRD 24 and (2) a review of selected public transportation agencies as examples of how bus stop locations are sited when considering safety and equity.

Specific issues to be examined include the following:

  1. What position do states generally take concerning the liability of public transit providers for injury or damage based on negligent location planning regarding bus stop placement?
  2. How do Title VI requirements treated in bus stop design and location impact claims of negligence?
  3. Are the immunity protections for public transit agency bus stop locations uniform throughout the country? If not, how do they vary?
  4. Are there civil rights implications in reviewing rulings or bona fide claims for injury or damage due to bus stop locations throughout the country?

The LRD should include the following:

  • A comprehensive summary of liability issues relating to the siting and maintenance of fixed-route bus stops;
  • A review of lawsuits related to accidents, incidents, or injuries where location or nonmaintenance of the bus stop was cited as a factor in the accident, incident, or injury;
  • Recommended strategies for effective siting and maintenance of fixed-route bus stops; and
  • Discussion of potential pitfalls: what terms or practices to avoid if possible.


This research will be conducted in four tasks under a firm-fixed-price agreement.

Task 1. Develop a research plan and detailed report outline. The consultant will (1) prepare a plan to conduct research and collect relevant material and (2) propose a detailed report outline. The research plan should be about 8—12 pages, including a proposed survey if one is to be used. The report outline should contain sufficient detail to inform the TCRP project panel of what a 75—100-page report will contain and include the estimated pagination for each proposed section and subsection. This material will be submitted to TCRP for consideration and approval.

Task 2. Conduct research. After approval of the work plan, the consultant should conduct additional research, case analysis, and statutory and regulatory analysis.

Task 3. Submit a draft report in accordance with the approved work plan (including modifications required by TCRP).

Task 4. Submit a final report. The consultant should anticipate making two revisions to the report before the report is finalized. One revision may be required after review by the TCRP staff and members of a select subcommittee. Final revisions may be necessary after the full committee has reviewed the report.


25% paid upon submission and approval of the Task 1 report.

50% paid upon submission and approval of the Task 3 draft report.

25% paid upon submission and approval of the final report (following revisions as required by TCRP).


STATUS: A response has been received for this RFP.  The project panel will meet to determine next steps.

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