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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Adaptive Transit: Enhancing Suburban Transit Services

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 3.0 license

Suburbia largely remains hostile territory for public transit in America and, indeed, much of the developed world. Transit’s market share of every type of trip is steadily eroding outside of central cities virtually the world over. With trip origins and destinations spread all over the map, traditional fixed-route, fixed-schedule, radially oriented transit services are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the private automobile.

Yet against this backdrop, some metropolitan areas both in the United States and abroad have responded to low-density development patterns by designing more flexible, market-responsive forms of mass transit. Many strategies aim to eliminate, or at least marginalize, what is the scourge of suburban transit services worldwide – the transfer.

This study examines Adaptive Transit as a promising approach toward better serving suburban markets. Initially, Adaptive Transit is defined and classified. Case studies from both the United States and abroad are then used to examine experiences across ten different forms of Adaptive Transit. "Best case" examples are cited, where possible. In addition to describing the rationales and service features of different forms of Adaptive Transit, case reviews focus on evaluating performance impacts, particularly with reference to "control cases" for winch traditional suburban services, in otherwise comparable settings, remain m place. Moreover, attention is given to matters of implementation. In most cases, the "software" (i.e., public policies) that accompanied the "hardware" (i.e., technologies and service innovations) was every bit important in achieving success.

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