Build a Better Bus Network
Buses are the backbone of every transit network in the nation, even in major cities like Chicago, Austin, and Phoenix. Buses can cover vast areas and make new connections between everyday destinations and other transit services much more easily than rail services and at a fraction of the cost. Unlike rail, buses can quickly respond to changing conditions, and the CONNECT Beyond region will see many changes in the next 20 years. As new employment centers emerge and the region’s population increases, existing bus services can increase service frequency, service hours, and route length and alignment to meet the region’s changing transportation needs. New bus routes should also be added to provide new connections.
Enhancing existing bus routes and providing new high quality bus routes will help build a foundation of regional transit demand and ridership, which is the necessary precursor for implementing high capacity transit services like bus rapid transit and light rail. Making improvements to our regional bus network cannot be underestimated, because a quality bus network allows users to make crucial multimodal connections to other alternative mobility services and provides access to destinations that may offer economic, social, and educational opportunities.
The Region's Network Today
Currently, the CONNECT Beyond region has multiple transit agencies providing local and regional bus services for residents and visitors. In our region, residents and visitors rarely stay in one jurisdiction and are often traveling across municipal, county, and state lines to get to their key everyday destinations. This means that those who use public bus services to travel around our region often must use various different transit services each operated by different transit providers to get to where they want to and need to go. This makes using public transportation complicated, because currently each transit provider has different route frequencies, fare systems and prices, hours of services, promotional websites and phone applications, and transit amenities.
- 2 States
- 12 Counties
- 6 Fixed-Route Providers*
- 11 Community Transportation Providers
- $200M In Total Operating Costs All Agencies
- 24.4M+ Total Transit Trips All Agencies (2018)**
Understanding Our Existing Bus Network
To fully understand the needs of fixed-route transit service providers in our region and their current operating practices, CONNECT Beyond conducted an Existing Transit Systems Evaluation and targeted stakeholder engagement efforts.
The Existing Transit System Evaluation included:
- Inventory of transit services
- System level performance analysis
- Review of service standards and performance measures
- Field observations
Targeted Stakeholder Engagement Efforts included:
- Transit provider surveys and interviews
- Strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats analysis workshop
- Interactive long-range planning workshop
To learn more, refer to Section 4 in the CONNECT Beyond Regional Mobility Plan.Read the Final Plan
How We'll Get There: Bus Network Recommendations
Establish a CONNECT Beyond Service Planning Working GroupTimeframe: Immediate
With no current coordinated regional service plan, it is very difficult for the region’s transit riders to travel between systems. The Service Planning Working Group will provide the region with a dedicated team of transit operation professionals to lead service planning for the region.
Implement a Mobility Education CampaignTimeframe: Immediate
Develop and maintain a regional marketing campaign to educate the region on the value of transit, the value of multimodal options, current and future mobility options, as well as how to stay involved in helping further transit in the CONNECT Beyond region.
Leverage Existing FundingTimeframe: Immediate
Coordinate on funding efforts to maximize current and future state and federal grant funding opportunities.
Adopt Regional Transit Standards and Performance MeasuresTimeframe: Immediate
Develop and adopt regional transit standards and performance measures (TSPM) which establish network design consistency for elements such as the hours of service and frequency of service by service time, and metrics for evaluating service performance.
More Transit Access Networks and Mobility HubsTimeframe: Near-Term
For all mobility hubs and Recommended High Capacity Transit (HCT) Corridors, coordinate with State Departments of Transportations and Metropolitan Planning Organizations to incorporate space for transit in highway and land use plans, strategically advance the active transportation corridor to make connections, and integrate HCT investments into the planning and design process for major arterials.
Create Transit Workforce of TomorrowTimeframe: Near-Term
The future of mobility will include more on-demand services and bus fleet electrification. To ensure that the region’s transit workforce is ready to meet the technology needs of the future, we must prepare today.
Expanding Fixed-Route Transit into Recommended HCT CorridorsTimeframe: Mid-Term
Implement local bus service in Recommended High Capacity Transit Corridors to establish a ridership base to compete for and justify future HCT investment..
More and New Services, Coverage Area, Connections, Capital EquipmentTimeframe: Mid-Term
Enhance transit service (e.g., hours of service, days of service, service frequency) to match regional transit service standards and expand the system coverage area.