An Exploration of Fixed-Guideway Transit Criteria Revisited

The Federal Transit Administration, the American Public Transportation Association, the New Starts Working Group, and various other advocacy groups (e.g., Smart Growth America) have held a number of working sessions to re-think how New Starts projects are evaluated and rated. One proposal that is likely to be enacted during the SAFETEA-LU reauthorization is a requirement that FTA apply a "warrants-based" approach to project evaluation and rating. A warrants-based approach would provide that, if a specific project or corridor meets specific population density, employment density, existing transit use, congestion levels, or other criteria, the project would be warranted and a "medium" rating would be assigned. Currently, there is little available research to determine the potential "warrants" for various transit modes and corridor conditions, based on the characteristics of existing, successful transit systems. In November 1980, UMTA (now FTA) published a landmark report titled "Urban Rail in America: An Exploration of Criteria for Fixed-Guideway Transit," which was authored by Boris Pushkarev and Jeffrey Zupan. The purposes of that study were to explore what range of travel volume is sufficient to warrant a certain level of fixed-guideway investment; to indicate the location of urban corridors where such travel volumes may be found; to offer a rough, tentative assessment of the national market for fixed- guideway facilities; and to aid in focusing local planning on the most promising locations. Based on operating experience with existing systems at the time, functions were developed relating variables such as population density, development density, service frequency and speed to travel volumes, and minimum travel volume criteria or thresholds for fixed-guideway were formulated. An update of "Urban Rail in America" would contribute substantially to this discussion, and provide a framework for warrants for project evaluation. The update would offer new criteria for fixed-guideway transit using current data for the many such major transit projects that have been put into operation in the past 25 years. The update would add bus rapid transit (BRT) to the modes considered, and might drop downtown people movers, a technology whose popularity has waned. The objective of this research would be to evaluate and develop appropriate warrants for major transit capital investment projects and update "Urban Rail in America." This would provide an analytical framework for simplifying the evaluation of transit projects by analyzing the characteristics of the setting, the operation, the cost, and the performance of existing fixed- guideway transit lines.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $500000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project H-42

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Goldstein, Lawrence

  • Start Date: 20100224
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 25246

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01461679
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project H-42
  • Files: TRB, RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 1:50PM