SimCap Recap: Full Capacity, High Quality Transit Lunch & Learn

The SimCap Users Group Meeting held a sold-out lunch and learn event at N.C. State’s iconic Hunt Library on Monday, March 7, 2016. The event title was “Transit Capacity and Quality of Service – National, State, and Local Perspectives”, and featured three speakers who shared their longstanding expertise in transit planning and operations with an audience of 50 transportation professionals, as well as graduate students from N.C. State’s Civil Engineering Program and UNC Chapel Hill’s Department of City and Regional Planning.

The lunch and learn keynote presentation was given by Mr. Paul Ryus from Kittelson and Associates, Inc. speaking about the TRB Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual, and other national transit research. Mr. Ryus is lead author of the manual, as well as chair of the TRB Committee on Transit Capacity and Quality of Service. The presentation introduced key performance measures for transit agencies that emphasize the passenger point of view when evaluating quality of service provided by transit. Mr. Ryus emphasized that while the TRB Manual appears to focus on transit “capacity”, it really also provides methods and metrics for key related performance measures, such as transit speed and reliability that should be of interest to all transit providers.

His presentation was followed by a presentation by Ms. Debbie Collins, Director of Public Transportation at NCDOT. Ms. Collins shared an overview of the state of public transportation in North Carolina, which was found to generate six dollars in total investment in the state of NC for every dollar invested into transit, according to a recent economic impact study. Ms. Collins emphasized that public transit in NC is the fastest-growing in the southeast, which supports more than 9,000 jobs and provides close to 80 million trips per year.image002

In the third presentation, Mr. John Tallmadge from GoTriangle provided a local perspective on transit, and described how the Triangle region and the City of Durham are gearing up for a future of increased transit use in the region. Building on recent successes of the bus on shoulder program on I-40 for regional commuter routes, the agency is in negotiations with Uber to provide last-mile connectivity to and from transit stations, and is supporting the active application to the Federal Transit Administration for light rail service between Raleigh and Durham.

The event concluded with an active discussion form with all panelists, moderated by SimCap chair Bastian Schroeder with Kittelson and Associates. He said that the event was very well received and happened at a critical time: “As North Carolina and the Triangle region are moving towards increasing use and focus on transit as a critical transportation mode, questions on how to evaluate the performance of these system are important considerations for transportation professionals.”