Thursday, July 25, 2019

What is Metro's NextGen Bus Study's Regional Service Concept

Metro has set out to design a new bus network that is more relevant, reflective of, and attractive to the residents of LA County, which it has branded as the NextGen Bus Study. This type of overhaul and updating of the bus system happens about every few decades. It's important to keep the bus network relevant and upgraded to represent current demand and travel patters.  Hopefully this will help with increasing Metro bus ridership as a similar redesign recently helped ridership in Austin, Texas.

Metro has completed Phase 1, its "Research and Analysis" phase.  Based on the data collected and a vast amount of outreach, Phase 2 is now presentation of Metro's "Regional Service Concept".  Phase 3, after the approval of the "Regional Service Concept", will be development of the "NextGen Service Plan", expected in early 2020. Phase 4 will be "Implementation" of the plan once approved.

So what is this Regional Service Concept that Metro is proposing to base design of its new service plan?

According to Metro, "Together with your comments, the Regional Service Concept is guiding the NextGen bus service planners as they examine every Metro bus line and bus stop to determine the best system redesign possible."  This phase will defines the goals and objectives of the new bus network, and will include measurements of for success of the new network, route and network design concepts based on public input and data analysis, a framework for balancing the inevitable tradeoffs that this new plan will require, and, of course, Metro’s Equity Platform considerations.

In 2018, the Board adopted Metro Vision 2028 as the agency’s strategic plan. Metro sees the NextGen Bus Study as addressing one of the plan's top goals: "Provide high quality mobility options that enable people to spend less time traveling."

The Concept lists three key factors to developing the new transit network:
  1.  Transit Propensity - Identity the areas where the propensity to use transit is the greatest, by examining the market segments of transit customers (transit reliant riders, commuters, and discretionary riders) and the intensity of demand by population and place (prospective ridership generators);
  2.  Existing Service Performance -  identify and optimize the most productive segments of the existing bus network which matches current transit demand (what's already working well);
  3.  Service Environment - Removing land use barriers to successful service, and implementing transit supportive infrastructure (such as transit-only lanes).
In particular, check out "Attachment E" (pages 151-157) of the Concept for signs of what bus lines Metro scores as performing well in the current network, and what lines it scores as underperforming.

I expect people will be very interested about any proposed changes to their current transit lines, for many people their transit access and reliability can determine their mobility, their economic prosperity, and social/cultural opportunity.

It will be months before we see the new proposed NextGen Service Plan.  While we are waiting, check out the NextGen Bus Study Data Center where Metro has granted access to an amazing ocean of transit data analysis, more than enough to keep any transit fan occupied until the NextGen Service Plan comes out by early 2020.

For a Ridership Data Tool that "allows you to explore monthly ridership stats, line level trends, and historical information for every line in Metro's system," please click here.

For a Trip Density Per Census Tract Map that displays volumes of daily trip origins per census tract, including both transit trips (recorded by TAP data) and overall trips (car, transit, etc.), please click here and zoom in/out.

For a Corridor Segment Performance Map that "displays which segments have the most ridership and are the most productive," please click here and zoom in/out.

For a Frequency Map that "displays how often buses are arriving at stops for segments of each route, with the red lines showing they most frequent segments," please click here and zoom in/out.

For a Trip Length Distribution Map that "displays how far riders typically travel along the corridor based on their starting point, with darker red dots indicating longer trip lengths," please click here and zoom in/out to click on a starting point to display the average length.

For an Origin-Destination Patterns Sliding Map that "displays the pattern of where current transit riders are starting and ending their trips," please click here and zoom in/out and slide back and forth to compare origins versus destinations.

For a Seated Capacity Map that "displays how full, on average, the buses are on segments of each route. The darker the color represents segments of a route where buses are fuller". please click here and zoom in/out..

For a Stop Level Ridership Map that "displays the level of activity at each of Metro’s bus stops, with the red dots representing high activity, with detailed information on the number of boardings, on and off, by simply clicking each dot/stop," please click here and zoom/in out.

For a Transit Propensity Map that "shows you the areas where the propensity to use transit is the greatest," please click here and add the layers of demand data you want while zooming in/out.

Phew!  That is a lot of data.  I cannot wait to see the new proposed service plan.

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