Transit-first policies prioritize transit and non-motorized transportation modes and support decision-making related to sustainable transportation. Improving transit station and stop design can increase the comfort, convenience, and attractiveness of transit, overall increasing transit ridership.
Potential strategies to support transit-first policies include the following:
- Preference toward improving transit vehicle speeds / operations
- Favor investment in transit over automobile travel
- Measure performance in moving people/goods not vehicles
- Improve walking and biking conditions from the stop/station to the surrounding area (see Pedestrian and Bicycling Circulation)
- Improve street connectivity around stations and stops (see Street Connectivity)
- Improve vehicle kiss-and-ride facilities
- Increase transit service
- Create clean, safe, and attractive transit stations and stops
- Provide transit rider amenities, such as shelters, benches, lighting, trash cans
- Provide real-time transit information
- Increase transit efficiency at stations by providing ticket purchasing machines
- Ensure adequate sidewalk width at the station and stop
- Facilitate pedestrian and bicycle access improvements in station areas
Research shows that providing riders with a comfortable and reliable place to access transit will not only retain existing riders, but also attract new ones. “Choice” or discretionary riders are particularly sensitive to transit station conditions and poor area design can decrease ridership (Kittleson & Associates, 2013). The Transit Cooperative Research Program Report 102, similarly identifies choice users as more sensitive to service quality, making frequent and reliable trains with minimal transfers a critical step in converting auto commuters and reducing VMT.
Transit improvements that give priority to public transportation provide travel time savings, operating cost saving and increased travel reliability. Research suggests that a 1% increase in transit service frequency will increase ridership by approximately 0.5% (elasticity of 0.5), 1% increase in service hours or miles could increase ridership by 0.7% (elasticity of 0.7).
Transit accessibility has been shown to reduce VMT and increase transit ridership. Distance to the nearest transit stop has been associated with reduced VMT (-0.05 elasticity), more walking (0.15 elasticity), and increased transit use (0.29) (Cervero and Ewing, 2010). Analysis of other transit-oriented development projects and transit supportive communities have shown reductions up to 20% in vehicle miles traveled compared to auto-dependent areas that lack high frequency transit service (Jeihani, et al., 2013).