MNTRC Newsletter Vol. 21, Issue 2: Fall 2014

Developing seamless connections in the urban transit network

Hualiang “Harry” Teng, PhD, Director, Railroad, High Speed Rail, and Transit Initiative

HSR station platform

HSR stations with connecting transportation modes have higher ridership.

UNLV News – High-speed rail (HSR) is rapidly becoming a reality in the U.S. But how can planners maximize ridership? One key is to develop multi-modal interconnectivity. That is, if several transportation modes intersect at a given station, transfers will be more convenient, and ridership should increase. However, it’s also important to ensure that the interconnectivity is developed according to best practices.

To that end, the research team at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) conducted a study that quantified multimodal connectivity of HSR stations and its impact on ridership in four countries – France, Spain, Japan, and China – where HSR has already been established. That quantifying has set the basis for developing future rail interconnectivity. These findings have important implications for the proposed California and Nevada HSR stations.

Not all connectivity profiles are the same

Analysis showed that multimodal connectivity at HSR stations in different countries presents different profiles. For example, HSR stations in China connect with more bus lines than those in other countries. Relatively, there are more bus stops or terminals provided in France. Transfer times in Japan and China are significantly longer than those in France and Spain. The average bus arrival interval in France is the longest, more than double that of China.

All the connectivity variables considered in this study influence ridership in these four countries in different ways. On the whole, bus, subway, and regional railroad service influence ridership significantly. For instance, the more bus services connected to the station, the higher the ridership. This trend is apparent in three of the four countries, France being the exception.

Various other factors influence ridership

Also, subway, light rail, and traditional rail are modes of high-capacity transportation. Their connection to HSR stations always implies high ridership for high-speed rail. The number of facilities also shows significant impacts on HSR ridership. For instance, the more bus and subway stops, and the more bicycle parking and taxi stands, the higher the ridership. Transfer time also has a significant influence.

In this study, multimodal connectivity is measured by the number of different modes of transportation connected to HSR stations, the number of installed arrival and departure facilities for each mode, the transfer time from connecting modes to boarding platforms at HSR stations, and the arrival time intervals of public transportation modes.

California and Nevada stations can benefit

For California HSR stations, it is recommended that special attention be given to bicycle and pedestrian accommodations. When weighing the tradeoff between building a new station and adapting an existing one, transfer time for all connections should be taken into account. A more convenient fare payment system should be used to facilitate transfer between high-speed rail and other modes of transportation. Coordinating the arrivals and departures of different modes of transportation at high-speed rail stations should be given appropriate consideration.

For the HSR station in Nevada, it is recommended that the station must provide access and accommodations for passengers generated from residents near the station who access the station by walking or biking. In addition, light rail type of transportation is recommended to accommodate peak arrival periods of high-speed trains.