12th International HOV Systems Conference: Improving Mobility and Accessibility with Managed Lanes, Pricing, and BRT
BREAKOUT SESSION — BUSES, BRT, HOV, AND HOT PROJECTS
Linda Cherrington, Texas Transportation Institute, Presiding
I-75 HOV/BRT Study in Atlanta
Darryl Van Meter, Georgia Department of Transportation
Roger Palmer, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc.
Darryl Van Meter and Roger Palmer described the proposed HOV/BRT project in the I-75/I-575 northwest corridor in Atlanta. They summarized the planning studies in the corridor, the project elements, and future activities. The recognized the assistance of Marvin Woodward with the Greater Atlanta Transportation Authority with the project and the presentation.
- The existing HOV lanes on I-75 extend from the I-75/I-85 common section in downtown Atlanta to Akers Mill Road. No HOV lanes currently exist on I-575. An extension of the HOV lanes on I-75 and on I-575 was initiated in 2002. Project limits on I-75 are from Akers Mill Road to Wade Green Road, which approximately 15 miles in length. The project limits on I-575 are from I-75 to Sixes Road, which is approximately 12 miles in length.
- The initial project goal was to extend the HOV system on I-75 and I-575. An interim solution to address the traffic congestion in the corridor was explored and discarded. The ultimate HOV system was conceptualized and the environmental analysis was begun.
- The Northwest Connectivity Study was initiated by the GRTA in 2002, concurrent with the HOV extension on I-75/I-575. The study explored transit options in the study area. BRT was selected in February 2004 as the locally preferred alternative. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was the level of documentation. The two efforts were combined in May 2004 as a joint project of the GDOT and GRTA.
- The project location and study area includes HOV lanes and BRT stations on I-75 from I-285 to Wade Green Road, HOV lanes I-575 from I-75 to Sixes Road, and options for two HOV lanes in each direction from I-285 to I-575. The alternatives being considered include a no-build alternative, an HOV only alternative, an HOV/TSM alternative, and an HOV/BRT alternative.
- GDOT considered four HOV concepts on I-75 between I-285 and I-575. All of the concepts included barrier separated HOV lanes. Option U1 included all four HOV lanes in the median of I-75. Option U2 split the HOV lanes on the outside of I-75. Option U3 placed all four of the HOV lanes on the west side of I-75. Option U4 placed all four of the HOV planes on the east side of I-75.
- With Option U1, which located all HOV lanes in the median, all existing general purpose lanes would need to be shifted to the outside and reconstructed to make room for the new HOV system in the median.
- Option U2 placed two lanes in each direction on the outside. HOV access points would be at new HOV-only interchanges. Elevated segments would fly over existing general purpose interchanges. At-grade segments between existing interchanges would be maximized to reduce structure costs.
- Option U3 included two lanes in each direction all on the west side of the freeway and Option U4 included two lanes in each direction all on the east side of the freeway. In both cases HOV access points would be placed at new HOV-only interchanges. Elevated segments would fly over existing general-purpose interchanges. At-grade segments between existing interchanges would be maximized to reduce structure costs. Seven BRT stations would be located along I-75 and one station would be in downtown Atlanta.
- The notice of intent for the EIS was published in the Federal Register on March 15, 2004. Public and agency scoping meetings have been held. The conceptual design is basically complete and the environmental screening is complete. The environmental baseline is underway. The Draft EIS (DEIS) is scheduled to be completed and circulated in June 2005. If the current schedule holds, the first segment of the facility would open in 2011.
- The BRT system includes stations at strategic locations in the corridor. The stations would provide direct access to and from the HOV lanes and would be integrated into the surrounding areas. Passenger waiting areas, park-and-ride facilities, and other amenities would be provided.
- The next steps in the process include evaluating the HOV options as part of the DEIS. The DEIS chapter will be provided to agencies for review as they are completed. Based on approval of the DEIS, preliminary engineering for the locally-preferred option will be started. The Final EIS (FEIS) will be prepared, with a record of decision anticipated by July 2006. The right-of-way acquisition process will start at that point.
- More information is available at the Northwest Corridor HOV/BRT website — www.nwhovbrt.com.
Bus Rapid Transit in Las Vegas
Lee Gibson, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc.
Lee Gibson discussed BRT planning efforts in Las Vegas. He summarized the key elements of HOV systems and the main components of BRT. He recognized the contributions of Amy McAbee Cummings and Bardia Nazhati of Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc.
- Elements of an HOV system include the HOV lane, support facilities, bus services, and intermodal integration. Funding, implementation coordination, and marketing are also important elements of an HOV strategic plan.
- HOV lanes move more people, rather than more vehicles. A variety of HOV lanes are in use in different metropolitan areas in the U.S., including barrier separated lanes, concurrent flow lanes, contraflow lanes, and busways.
- The definition of BRT used in a Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) project is: "A flexible, high performance rapid transit mode that combines a variety of physical, operating and system elements into a permanently integrated system with a quality image and unique identity." Transit operators might use the following definition of BRT: "Delivering to the customer better service through integrated physical design, advanced technology, and innovative operations. BRT must be customer focused, technologically based, and improve operational economics."
- At least four elements can be identified for a successful BRT system. These elements are corridor selection, marketing, federal partnerships, and vehicle technology/procurement management. The corridor planning principles considered in Las Vegas included congestion, connectivity to regional facilities, and right-of-way and land use.
- Las Vegas is experiencing rapid population and employment growth. Most of the employment growth is concentrated in the resort corridor. There is a freeway lane shortage in the resort corridor. The population of Las Vegas was approximately 1.5 million in 2000. The population is forecast to double by 2030. The total lane miles and lane miles per capita in Las Vegas are low compared to peer cities.
- Connectivity and right-of-way opportunities are also important with BRT, as is a focus on the freeway to arterial street relationships. High densities, concentrated employment centers, and freeway lane shortages support the efforts for transit in general and BRT.
- Marketing BRT provides opportunities for creating a new image for transit through branding, charrettes, and media management. Branding creates a different visual image for buses through the use of new colors, new logos, and new names. Branding gives a fresh feel to BRT service and creates excitement. It can also improve the image of the entire transit system.
- Charrettes can be used to build consensus among local, state, and federal agency personnel. Examples of agency staff typically participating in charrettes include the transit authority, public works department, state departments of transportation, and federal agencies.
- Media management usually includes television and print media, public events, community meetings, and websites. A variety of approaches can be used to inform the public.
- Federal agency partnerships include requirements during the planning, financing, and procurement process. Planning considerations include the NEPA requirements, as well as inclusion of the BRT project in the RTP and the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Federal guidelines also address financing the BRT system and procuring vehicles and fixed facilities. Buy America and low-bid versus best-value issues may need to be addressed.
- Planning for BRT can be complex. Keeping the process simple by starting with a sketch-planning analysis of a number of alternatives is suggested. The number of alternatives is typically reduced as the level of detail in the planning process increases. Thus, fewer alternatives are considered in the alternatives analysis and preliminary engineering. The selected alternative is taken forward into the design phase and into construction.
- Approaches can also be used to minimize NEPA requirements. These approaches include upgrading existing bus stops and using FTA formula funding. Purchasing vehicles as part of general transit system expansion and partner with state departments of transportation for lane improvements can also help minimize NEPA requirements.
- When considering vehicle technology it is important to learn what is available in the market. It is also important to match vehicle technology to customer needs. Finally, integrating vehicle and station interfaces is critical.
- Market factors to consider include the number of vendors and the development costs and marketing plans. Other factors to consider are unique attributes, such as precision docking, optical and magnetic guidance, door design, propulsion, and cost effectiveness. It is important to consider if the unique attributes meet your customer needs. Items to consider include spaciousness, ADA accessibility, boarding and exiting, bicycle storage, and operator acceptance.
- A number of elements should be considered in procurement management. These elements include ensuring competitive negotiation, learning what works for your community, and developing performance-based specifications. It is also important to engage in real negotiations. Avoid price as the major decision factor. Require design reviews. Use cost analysis techniques to keep your contractor honest. Finally, be firm but fair.
Integrating HOT Lanes and BRT in the I-394 MnPASS Corridor
John Doan, Minnesota Department of Transportation
John Doan discussed integrating HOT lanes and BRT as part of the MnPASS I-394 project. He recognized Kenneth Buckeye from Mn/DOT as the author of the presentation. John summarized the background of the I-394 project, the development of the MnPASS program, and the link to other transit components in the region.
- I-394 was opened in 1992. The freeway includes two different HOV segments. The HOV concurrent flow lane section from Wayzata Boulevard to Highway 100 is eight miles in length. The dedicated two-lane HOV reversible section from Highway 100 to I-94 is approximately three miles in length. The average daily traffic (ADT) for the total facility is approaching 148,000. In May 2005, I-394 will become the region's first HOT lane. It will also be the first attempt in the country to toll in a non-barrier separated environment.
- A number of factors influenced the development of the I-394 MnPASS project. As with many areas, funding for new construction is limited and congestion continues to grow on freeways in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. There is a perception that the I-394 HOV lanes are under utilized, and a 2002 study found that there was available capacity. The Minnesota Legislature approved legislation in 2003 that allowed HOV to HOT expansion.
- There is political and institutional momentum in the region for addressing transportation problems with innovative approaches. There is also a renewed commitment to transit options. These transit options include the Hiawatha LRT line, the Northstar Commuter Rail, the Central Corridor LRT line, the Cedar Avenue BRT line, the I-35W BRT line, and the Bottineau Boulevard BRT/ I-394 Transit Advantages project.
- The I-394 MnPASS goals include improving the efficiency of I-394 and maintaining freeflow speeds for transit and carpools (55-60 mph) via dynamic pricing. Other project goals include improving highways and transit in the corridor with revenues generated from the project, using electronic toll collection, and employing new technologies, such as dynamic pricing and in-vehicle enforcement tools.
- The first phase of the I-394 MnPASS project will open in May, 2005. Planning for the second phase, which will include additional transit elements, is underway. There are a number of reasons for the second phase planning effort. First, public opinion polls show congestion tops the list of quality of life issues in the region. Second, it appears there is public support for optional tolls. Third, political and institutional momentum exists for additional transit and transportation improvements. Fourth, the related Bottineau Boulevard BRT project is under development. Finally, state legislation requires that 50 percent of excess toll revenues from the I-394 MnPASS project be used to enhance transit in the I-394 corridor.
- The vision of the second phase is to achieve the most efficient use of the HOV lanes and to maximize transit advantages in the corridor. Elements being examined to enhance the efficiency of the HOV lanes include barrier system options to allow 24/7 bi-directional flow in the exclusive segment, improvements to the TH 100 interchange to allow for movements in all directions, operational enhancements for transit, and lane modifications to the Lowry Hill Tunnel on I-95. Elements being examined to maximize transit advantages in the corridor include possible expansion of park-and-ride lots, signal priority on local roads, and automated passenger counters. Other transit elements under consideration include a comprehensive evaluation of transit service in the corridor, assessing the impacts of intermediate access points, and coordinating with the Bottineau Boulevard BRT project. Possible bus queue jumps and shoulder lanes are also being explored, along with limited stops and signalization. Attractive, heated, and well lit passenger shelters, along with additional traveler information systems, and off-board fare collection are also under consideration.
- There are 11 access points for the I-395 MnPASS project, five eastbound and six westbound. The access points are approximately one-fourth to three-fourths miles in length. The access points will include visual enforcement of occupancy levels and electronic toll tag readers.