In fast-growing regions such as Wake County, NC, ensuring safe access to transit stations and bus stops is critical to an equitable and accessible transportation network. Accelerated development and competing land uses can leave gaps in the pedestrian network—missing sidewalks, lack of ADA compliance, difficult and dangerous crossings—that impede access to new and existing transit. With diverse interests and varying budgets, municipal planners in cities across the country need tools to help them make investments that have the most impact.
As part of an update to the Wake County Bus Plan, Nelson\Nygaard developed the Access to Transit Tool to help transit agency and municipal planners identify these gaps and prioritize the projects that can connect them to make transit more accessible, whether the capital investments available are large or small. The team used the tool and analysis to guide investment decisions and funding priorities.
Translating the results of a regional connectivity analysis into an interactive map, this tool allows planners to explore the results through scores most relevant to their municipality, project, or other priorities. Planners can zoom in on a particular site and score—for example, a particular bus stop—and use additional filters to assess the results more closely or customize the analysis. They can toggle between the interactive map and a table view of their results, and the tool’s complete functionalities are also outlined in a helpful instructions tab. Nelson\Nygaard has developed a detailed user guide so that after our work with a client is complete, clients can continue to access the tool through a unique weblink and update the analysis using the guide.
In Wake County, this connectivity analysis included the bus stop and half-mile walkshed of all routes associated with regional transit systems: GoRaleigh, GoCary, GoDurham, and GoTriangle. This analysis also served as a starting point to monitor policy alignment with bus stop access and to determine the appropriate bus stop quality, amenities, and management approaches by land-use and roadway contexts. The Access to Transit Tool scored bus stop walksheds based on a composite metric tied to their sidewalk coverage, per capita pedestrian involved crash history, population and employment density, ridership, and socio-demographic characteristics targeted to create equitable distribution of investments. The surrounding land use and adjacent roadway classifications of each bus stop enabled a context-sensitive assessment of its score. The tool also aggregated spatial locations for all prior planning requests for sidewalk and pedestrian access connectivity improvements across the system into a layer that could be overlaid to inform review of outcomes.
While these metrics provided Wake County with the right lens to view local projects for investment, the Access to Transit Tool can easily work with other kinds of data. Through this tool, Nelson\Nygaard offers a customizable snapshot to help each client identify and prioritize the locations where small-scale capital investment can align with the region’s unique goals and values—and make transit more accessible for all.