City Best Practices to Improve Transit Operations and Safety

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City Best Practices to Improve Transit Operations and Safety


Public, fixed-route transit services most commonly operate on public streets. In addition, transit passengers must use sidewalks to access transit stops and stations. However, streets and sidewalks are under the jurisdiction of municipalities, not transit agencies. Various municipal policies, practices, and decisions affect transit operations, rider convenience, and passenger safety. Thus, these government entities have an important influence over the quality, safety, and convenience of transit services in their jurisdictions. This research identified municipal policies and practices that affect public transport providers’ ability to deliver transit services. They were found from a comprehensive literature review, interviews and discussions with five local transit agencies in the U.S., five public transportation experts and staff from five California cities. The city policies and practices identified fall into the following five categories: Infrastructure for buses, including bus lanes, signal treatments, curbside access; Infrastructure for pedestrians walking and bicycling to, and waiting at, transit stops and stations; Internal transportation planning policies and practices; Land development review policies; Regional and metropolitan planning organization (MPO) issues. The understanding, acknowledgment, and implementation of policies and practices identified in this report can help municipalities proactively work with local transit providers to more efficiently and effectively operate transit service and improve passenger comfort and safety on city streets.



Michelle DeRobertis has a PhD from the University of Brescia, Italy, and a BS and MS in Civil Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. She was a consulting transportation engineer for 20 years and then served ten years in the public sector focusing on sustainable transportation design and policy. She is currently a Principal at Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities, a non-profit research and educational institute, as well as a Research Associate with Mineta Transportation Institute. Her current research interests are assessing the benefits of traffic-reducing strategies on livability and improving public transit in the U.S. In 2014 she founded and chaired the ITE Committee on Transit and Traffic Impact Studies, a multiyear effort to document whether and how public transit is considered in Traffic Impact Studies in the U.S. and Canada. The ITE State of the Practice Informational Report was published February 2019. She subsequently served on the ITE committee that rewrote the ITE Recommended Practice for conducting multimodal and traffic impact studies. In 2009, she was the recipient of a fellowship from the German Marshall Fund in the Comparative Domestic Policy Program, where she researched Land Development and Transportation Policies for Transit-Oriented Development in Germany and Italy. She is a registered Professional Engineer in California in both Civil Engineering and Traffic Engineering.


Dr. Ferrell began his career in 1995 as a planner for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). He completed his doctoral studies in City and Regional Planning at the University of California at Berkeley in 2005 and worked as a consultant with Dowling Associates, Inc. for 10 years before leaving to help form CFA Consultants in 2010. He is currently the Executive Director for Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities. He has been the principal investigator for six research projects for the Mineta Transportation Institute, where he has been a Research Associate since 2005. His research focuses on the relationships between transportation and land use, livability, travel behavior, transportation policy, and planning-related institutional structures. His research experience includes the study of multimodal transit and freeway corridors, the best practices for building successful transit-oriented development, the effects of transit-oriented development on surrounding property values, the effects of neighborhood crime on transportation mode choice, and a set of methods, metrics, and strategies for evaluating transit corridor livability. As a practitioner, he has planned mixed-use, infill and transit-oriented development projects, analyzed the impacts of specific and general plans, planned and implemented intelligent transportation systems, and developed bicycle and pedestrian plans. He has taught several quantitative methods classes in the San José State University Urban Planning Department as well as a course in transportation and land use in the City and Regional Planning Department at the University of California at Berkeley.


Richard Lee is an adjunct lecturer in the Urban and Regional Planning Department at San José State University and a course instructor for UC Berkeley’s Transportation Tech Transfer program. He has been a research associate with the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) for over 20 years. For MTI, Richard has led major research studies of general plans and sustainability, airport planning, and sustainability indicators for transportation. From 1995 through 2002, he was a full-time academic, teaching transportation planning and leading research projects at Massey University, New Zealand, UCLA, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Richard is also Director of Innovation and Sustainability at VRPA Technologies, Inc., a California-based consulting firm, as well as a Principal at Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities, a non-profit research and educational institute. Dr. Lee’s 35 years of academic and consulting experience include management of regional transportation plans, general plan studies, and high-speed rail. He has planned transit improvements for systems ranging from BART to single-route systems in the San Joaquin Valley and covering all transit modes. He recently led both a long-range transit plan for the Fresno region and a short-term route restructuring study for the City of Fresno’s transit system to incorporate bus rapid transit. Dr. Lee holds master’s degrees in Civil Engineering (1984) and City and Regional Planning (1985) as well as a PhD in City and Regional Planning (1995), all from the University of California at Berkeley.


David Moore is a Master’s student in Urban Planning at San José State University, focusing on sustainable transportation and urban livability. He is currently working on his thesis, studying the effects of San Francisco’s Slow Streets program. David lives and advocates for both active and public transportation causes in Sacramento, California where he received his Bachelor of Science from Sacramento State University in Recreation Administration. 

April 2021
Public transportation
Transit operations
Complete streets
Private employer shuttles
City practices
City transportation policy
City infrastructure planning



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