Transit agencies across the nation reference the Transit Capacity and Quality-of-Service Manual (TCQSM). Now in its third edition, the TCQSM gives guidance on transit capacity and quality-of-service (QoS) issues, as well as techniques for measuring operational characteristics.
I and my colleagues at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s) Center for International Intelligent Transportation Research (CIITR) identify and document how the TCQSM could be expanded to include border-specific transit applications. Our recent research focuses on the unique needs and experiences of transit agencies operating at the North American (U.S.–Mexico and U.S.–Canada) border.
For example, the current edition of the TCQSM involves a method for estimating transit-supportive areas based on zonal demographic and economic data. And that’s a great tool for transit agencies estimating QoS for fixed-route transit service. Border transit agencies, however, account for and manage a significant influx of transit passengers due to their location at international border crossings (coupled with high traffic including passenger and commercial vehicles in border queues).
I’m interested in figuring out what other methods in the TCQSM could benefit from adaption to border transit’s behaviors and service factors. I and my CIITR team are developing focus groups made up of border transit leaders and planning staff. The intention of building and conducting these focus groups is to get feedback from transit agency personnel about their experience with the TCQSM and its guiding principles and gather information about border commuting ridership patterns and impacts on performance.
Inviting border transit staff members into the conversation will allow us to provide well-informed insights to the TCQSM committee as they put together the next edition. Regional transportation planners can use our research to avoid transit system performance underestimates or overestimates, which could save agencies from costly investments, unfavorable conditions or system failures.
Decision-makers in border regions could determine the effects of a proposed regional transit plan or an individual project with greater accuracy and reliability. Before a plan or project ever reaches the implementation stage, researchers will evaluate its strengths and improvement areas through the TCQSM’s methods for how it may impact not just the transit agency and its operations, but also transit riders at North American borders.
That ability to to plan ahead, and adjust, could make a difference in ridership experience at our country’s borders, as well as transit agency operations and management at short- and long-term levels. By making a path for border transit personnel to voice issues and ideas, our research can pay it forward to that border transit leader who’ll receive the next edition of the TCQSM and put it into practice.
David Galicia, associate research scientist, is part of TTI’s Multi-Resolution Modeling Program in El Paso.