Urban transit mode comparison and selection

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Queen, Carly Susan
Watkins, Kari E.
Ross, Catherine L.
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The motivation behind this research is to support more informed decision making when it comes to transit mode selection, to help cities and communities thrive. In this thesis, a variety of innovative and conventional transit modes are described and compared across several different dimensions related to performance, environment, social, and economic factors. This information can be used to inform and guide transit mode selection processes in the United States and beyond. Tools and guidelines are proposed to inform more logical and inclusive mode selection processes for transportation planners, engineers, and others to use in identifying transit mode options that would best align with their purposes and the needs of the communities they serve. The author did not seek to identify a single best mode for any particular purpose, but rather to provide information and guidance to help decision makers narrow the field of urban transit modes to several appropriate options for further investigation. This thesis presents background on urban transit modes, including a brief history of transit and a literature review summary for the U.S. and beyond, followed by transit mode definitions, research methods used, and organization of the report. After the introduction, the thesis is presented in three parts. Part I focuses on the Transit Mode Selection Survey that was administered to gain insights about processes and priorities for choosing transit modes to use for system expansion and enhancement in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Part II presents data that was collected and analyzed relating to urban transit modes from national data sources and international case studies. Part III includes a proposed transit mode selection process, as well as a summary of recommendations and future research opportunities. Additional tools and information, including a process checklist and urban transit mode summary sheets, are provided in the appendices.
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