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Transit's Role in the Complete Street

This synthesis focuses on documenting current practices on transit (service and access) within Complete Streets. 

The National Complete Streets Coalition describes Complete Streets as follows:

Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation users of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across a complete street. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations [1].

The growing adoption of complete street policies across the U.S. represents an increasing shift in perspective and policy away from auto-dominated “throughput” design to sustainable transit-oriented development, and “livable communities.”  The National Complete Streets Coalition found that more than 350 complete street policies were in place as of the start of 2012 (146 adopted in 2011 alone) [6].  Municipalities have enacted the majority of these policies, with states/districts, counties, and regional planning organizations also providing noticeable levels of adoption [6].  While transit is included in the definition of Complete Streets, and it is likely that transit operators/agencies provide inputs and feedback on the development and implementation of the complete street policies of other organizations, their direct role is notably absent.

The objective of this effort is to provide a better understanding of transit’s role in the Complete Street and how it varies under different conditions/circumstances (streetscape, area type, transit mode, institutional/organizational structure, etc.).  Also important is how transit criteria are used for making Complete Street design and operational decisions, especially when tradeoffs must be made.  The synthesis should include a literature review, and a survey summary or case studies/vignettes. It should describe how existing complete street policies address transit (service and access), and how this varies under different conditions/circumstances.  Capturing how transit operators/agencies participate in the development, design, and implementation of complete street solutions, and how these solutions impact transit operating performance is also a critical part of this effort.  Questions include:

·         How is transit (service and access) addressed in Complete Streets policies/programs? 

­   Complete street policies in the U.S. and transit’s role (number of policies, type of agency, location, overall elements)

­   How is transit included in policies and designs (stop/station location and design, ROW design, urban design perspective)

­   What are the documented impacts (benefits/costs) to transit of existing complete street policies?

·         How is transit accommodated from a street design/urban design perspective?

­   Do designs and approaches vary by type of street, area type, and/or other factors?

­   How are the stop/station location, transit access, and transit line-haul elements addressed?

­   How does this vary by transit mode (local bus, express bus, BRT, street cars, trolley bus, LRT, paratransit, rural, etc.).  How is pickup/drop off for paratransit and disabled services accommodated?

·         What are the institutional/organizational approaches for incorporating transit?

­   Who is responsible for implementing the transit components and infrastructure associated with Complete Streets?  Does the transit agency/authority design, review, or neither? Do they have any decision/implementation power? Do they have design approval authority or just the ability to comment?

­   How does this vary by conditions/circumstances?

­   What types of funding programs or incentives (Federal, State, MPO, city, transit agency, etc.) have been devised or are available to construct ‘Complete Streets’ projects that include transit, and what types of transit improvements can they pay for?

·         What are the impacts to transit service and the criteria used to make tradeoffs when needed?

­   How do the complete street components such as reduced lane widths, road diets, tighter corner curb radii, or curb bulb-outs [3,5,6], impact transit service and throughput?

­   Are there different classifications of streets that receive different treatments [9], or are multimodal/context-sensitive criteria incorporated into the complete street policies [10, 12, 16]?

­   Is there a hierarchy of modes/policies that provide decision criteria?

­   Are multifunctional lanes used, and if so what are their guidelines/principles [11, 13]?

The results of this synthesis will prove invaluable to transit agencies in understanding their options when participating in the development and implementation of complete street policies within their jurisdictions, and the likely impacts to their operations that these policies may have.  It lays the groundwork for future development of best/recommended practices.

Sponsoring Committee:AP025, Public Transportation Planning and Development
Source Info:Information Sources:
General Complete Streets:
1. AARP. “Planning Complete Streets for an Aging America - Web Page”, n.d. http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/livable-communities/info-08-2009/Planning_Complete_Streets_for_an_Aging_America.html .
2. American Planning Association. “APA Complete Streets Resource List”, n.d. http://www.planning.org/research/streets/resources.htm .
3. LaPlante, John N, and McCann, Barbara. “Complete Streets in the United States.” In 4th International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design, 2010. http://www.4ishgd.valencia.upv.es/index_archivos/53.pdf .
4. Lyott, Jana, McCann, Barbara, Stollof. Edward R., Planning Complete Streets For an Aging America - Report. Washington: AARP Public Policy Institute, May 2009. http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/ppi/liv-com/2009-12-streets.pdf .
5. McCann, Barbara. “Complete the Streets! Best Policy Analysis and Implementation Practices.” Planning 71, no. 5 (2005): 18–23.
6. Seskin, Stefanie, McCann, Barbara. Rosenblum, Eryn, Vanderwaart, Catherine. Complete Streets Policy Analysis 2011: Inclusive. Diverse. Accountable. Washington DC: National Complete Streets Coalition, Smart Growth America, August 2012.
7. Smart Growth America. “National Complete Streets Coalition Fundamentals”, n.d. http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/complete-streets/complete-streets-fundamentals .
8. “Wikipedia Complete Streets.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, February 23, 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Complete_streets&oldid=539115271 .
Transit, Multimodal Criteria, and Performance Measurement
9. Dixon, Michael; Kingsbury, Kevin; Lowry, Michael; “What Makes a Complete Street Complete? Robust Definition Based on Context and Public Input ” presented at the Transportation Research Board 90th Annual Meeting, Washington DC, January 2011. http://amonline.trb.org/166bvh/3?highlightText=%20%2B%22complete%20streets%22 .
10. Dowling, Robert, et. al. NCHRP Report 616 Multimodal Level of Service Analysis for Urban Streets.
Date Posted:08/08/2013
Date Modified:08/18/2013
Index Terms:Transit oriented development, Accessibility, Transit operating agencies, Complete streets, Design, Livable communities, Streetscape, Mode choice, Policy analysis,
Cosponsoring Committees:AMS50, Economic Development and Land Use; ACH10, Pedestrians
Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Public Transportation
Planning and Forecasting

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