Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Toolbox: Assessing Person Throughput to Measure Transportation Impacts for BRT Projects

In September 2013, Senate Bill (SB 743) was signed by the Governor, which affects the way transportation impacts are analyzed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Senate Bill requires transportation agencies (such as [California Department of Transportation] Caltrans) to no longer exclusively use Level of Service (LOS) when planning a transportation system. By July 1, 2014 the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) is required to develop an initial draft of the alternative metrics, which may include “vehicle miles traveled, vehicle miles traveled per capita, automobile trip generation rates, or automobile trips generated”. In order to assist transit agencies deploying Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) throughout California, Caltrans needs to create additional BRT specific metrics than can be used during reviews. The Division of Mass Transportation (DMT) has requested that an existing research contract, BRT Person Throughput-Vehicle Congestion Tradeoffs (which is currently being amended to focus less on LOS and more on Measure of Effectiveness [MOE] for transit project proposals), be continued on in a new task under the BRT Toolbox Project. This new task will focus on Caltrans new role under SB 743's new changes to CEQA. In preparation of OPR's report DMT wanted to be prepared with some MOEs of their own that focus more along the lines of Caltrans mission, goals and vision. A wide-ranging amount of BRT-related information needs to be collected as part of this research from the public transportation industry. Moreover, this information is intended to integrate BRT into Caltrans’ planning and project development process and to provide the input for the eventual development and hopefully wide-spread use of a BRT Deployment Decision Support Tool. This tool will allow Caltrans to analyze a transit project being proposed on a Caltrans facility. This can be done by analyzing person throughput or total throughput differences between analyzing a normal Caltrans transportation proposal versus an oriented proposal (i.e. take-a-lane project, removal of parking/shoulders, etc.).