The County Connection transit system serves residents in central Contra Costa County, California. In 2012, Nelson\Nygaard began working with the agency to identify new opportunities for more efficient and productive bus service in County Connection’s primarily suburban environment. One of the proposed improvements involved Route 5, one of the least productive routes. We recommended a restructuring of the route to provide faster, more direct, and more reliable service connecting downtown to a BART station.

The changes were implemented in 2015 and, within less than a year, weekday ridership on the route shot up from an average of 75 daily passengers to an average of 531, more than 600%. Productivity during the same time period increased from 7.5 passengers per hour to over 28 passengers per hour, an increase of just under 400%. According to Paul Jewel, the project’s lead planner, “the improvements really highlight the relationship between providing fast, direct, and frequent transit service with improving the number of people using the bus.”

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In 2015 and 2016, Nelson\Nygaard helped Connect Transit completely redesign its service in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. The new network has shorter routes designed to serve specific markets, coordinated schedules that make it easy to transfer, and more frequent service to desired destinations. Services previously designed to only serve Illinois State University students were integrated with the broader Connect Transit network. New dedicated operating funding also allowed Connect Transit to add Sunday service for the first time.

The new network and service were launched on August 15, with an inaugural ride on the Green route connecting Uptown Normal to Downtown Bloomington. “It’s a dramatic redesign,” says Boris Palchik, who led the transformation of the Connect Transit network from a collection of long circuitous routes to a  simpler grid network. “It’s a fundamentally different approach—much more user friendly, much more likely to attract choice riders, and a better use of resources.”

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The Spokane Pedestrian Master Plan received the Governor’s 2016 Smart Communities Award. The honor recognizes Nelson\Nygaard’s contribution to creating thriving communities, a prosperous economy, and sustainable infrastructure. In addition to a data driven analysis of demand and need, Nelson\Nygaard provided a comprehensive review of the various factors that inform the walking experience and recommended improving connections and accessibility, closing gaps in the sidewalk network, and creating safe and inviting pedestrian settings.

The specific plan for the Vallco Shopping District in Cupertino, which will be revitalized as a mixed-use district, was honored with an Innovation in Green Community Planning Award of Excellence from the Northern California section of the American Planning Association. Nelson\Nygaard was instrumental in designing the plan’s connectivity strategy that integrates the project into the existing neighborhood fabric and encourages active transportation modes for all patrons of the area.