Flagstaff, situated in the mountains of Arizona, is a growing city of 50,000 where bus service has been provided for over a decade. The current system, known as Mountain Line, is a nationally recognized award winning transit operator.
Several years ago Mountain Line staff initiated discussions with the City of Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University (enrollment 24,000) about options for improving non-automobile access to the campus, while simultaneously improving mobility for all residents traveling in and around Flagstaff. Underlying the campus access issue was a growing need to address parking and traffic congestion problems within the boundaries of the campus. It was determined that a new bus rapid transit (BRT) route, complimented by an upgraded Mountain Line local service, would be the best option for improving mobility needs across the city.
Nelson\Nygaard staff led the planning and design efforts on this innovative BRT design-build project. The FTA approved, Very Small Starts project began in August 2011. The 6.8-mile route service provides limited-stop service with frequencies of 10-15 minutes during peak periods.
Building upon that success, Nelson\Nygaard later developed a five-year and long range (20 year) service plan for the Mountain Line system that included bold enhancements over existing services. For the first five years, a cost-constrained plan was developed to initiate cross-town rapid bus service connecting three major nodes of the city (more than doubling the length of the existing rapid bus alignment). Within years 10-20, the plan expands to develop an additional rapid route, extending service to the airport and realigning existing services to improve transfer connectivity across the system.
The plan also provided detail about facilities critical for future service success. Recommendations and preliminary designs were provided on a new transit facility, dedicated busway enhancements, and overall programmatic changes to enable the rapid route to maintain reliable service in a tightly constrained downtown corridor.