NJTPA uses new FLM methodology to support regional mobility
Public transportation is not always able to reach every neighborhood within a region where people need it. These issues have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic as transit ridership has declined, and many agencies have had to reduce service levels to remain financially solvent.
First and last mile (FLM) solutions have emerged as a powerful strategy to fill in those gaps in the transit network. FLM solutions are transportation services (such as shuttles or bikeshare) and infrastructure (such as sidewalks and bike lanes) that enhance connections to and from bus or rail stops. The connections may cover the “first mile” from point A to a transit stop, and/or the “last mile” from the transit stop to point B.
Demand or need for FLM solutions within a region often exceeds available resources, so transportation agencies must identify where—geographically—to prioritize investments. However, there is a lack of guidance as to how agencies can screen for FLM priority areas without proprietary or highly technical tools and datasets.
Through these projects, we developed a replicable methodology for transportation agencies to identify priority areas for investing in FLM solutions. The methodology, which is presented in a paper published in the Transportation Research Record, can be applied using freely available data (including data from the Census and General Transit Feed Specification on transit stop locations) and simple analytic processes in geographic information system (GIS) such as buffers, intersection, and filtering.
What differentiates this methodology is that it makes it feasible for transportation agencies, regardless of size, to conduct FLM without proprietary tools or data. It is helping the NJTPA and partners to evaluate and prioritize locations for creating new or expanded FLM transportation services. In the months following completion of these projects, NJTPA also coordinated with federal and regional transit partners to develop a future FLM grant program based on these analyses. Additionally, the Connecticut Department of Transportation has used the methodology to identify priority locations for transit station improvements.
“The FLM analysis methodology developed by ICF will be a valuable resource as we work to refine the planning and funding of FLM services, in coordination with our federal and regional transit partners, to respond to COVID-19-related changes in travel and new federal funding opportunities.”
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