Mass Transit - 17

A QUALIT Y LIFE

A

YEAR AFTER EMBARK
completed its rebranding
process in 2014, which included a new name, colors
and logo, a non-rider survey aimed at evaluating
public perception revealed
64 percent of residents
had heard of EMBARK
and 51 percent recognized it as
the name of the city's transit system. When asked how they knew
about EMBARK, 63 percent said
it was from the bus stops.
" We cannot underestimate the
value that those bus stops provide
to us, " said EMBARK Administrator/Director Jason Ferbrache.
" Whether people use our service
or not, they associate that bus stop
with our brand and our image. "
While brand image and public
perception contribute to a successful transit agency, the value
bus stops bring goes beyond these
basics and does more than provide a pickup and drop off point.
They provide a gateway into the
greater transit system which, in
turn, creates a lifeline throughout
the community.
" Each one of these bus stops
is a portal into our system, " explained David Carr, fleet and facilities manager, Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of
Washoe County. " We feel that
[upgrading bus stops] enhances
our portal and really provides
better access for our customer to
use our service. "
With bus stops playing an
essential role for the system and
providing access to community
services, agencies like EMBARK
and RTC must ensure equitable
and accessible stops for all.

Infrastructure of Care

Infrastructure, such as shelters
and lighting, contribute to a se-

cure bus stop, while additional
amenities such as bike racks and
trash receptacles improve the
rider experience. However, if the
sidewalks are too narrow or there
are no nearby crosswalks, having
nice amenities won't matter because the stop lacks safe access.
Freddie Fuller, vice president
of electronic payment systems at
Jacobs and national chair for the
Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, says equitable
transit is " meeting people where
they are. "
Part of this is ensuring infrastructure is accessible for everyone. This means evaluating
ADA compliance and addressing pedestrian safety, something
both EMBARK and RTC have
been doing.
After completing its rebranding, EMBARK began to improve
its bus stops primarily by adding shelters since only about five
percent of the 1,354 bus stops had
one. While doing this, the board
required the agency to only install ADA accessible shelters and
adopt a standard design to include
a shelter, security lighting, trash
receptacle and car corral where
necessary. This past fiscal year,
Ferbrache challenged his staff to
install 100 bus shelters, which the
agency completed in July, increasing the number of covered stops
by 55 percent.
EMBARK is now working on
the MAPS 4 Transit project, an
$87-million package that will continue to transform the system. Of
the $87 million, $10 million is allocated for bus stop enhancements
that includes installing lighting at
every stop and approximately 500
new ADA accessible shelters. And
$55 million in additional funding
is available through the MAPS 4
Sidewalks, Bike Lanes, Trails and

Streetlights program for sidewalks
and related amenities/placemaking. This funding will first be distributed to transit and pedestrian
priority areas.
" We now have this
capital funding source
to put in all these sidewalks to connect the
shelters that we're adding through our MAPS
4 Transit money, " Ferbrache said.
RTC has also begun investing in bus
stop and sidewalk infrastructure improvements through its ADA
Transition Plan that
was adopted earlier
this year. The commission evaluated more than 300 fixed-route
stops and prioritized them based
on factors like ridership and
ADA deficiency to be upgraded
over the next three to five years.
This includes the bus pad and the
actual bus stop, as well as sidewalk connectivity to the nearest
intersection or nearest logical
terminus. Sidewalks were a big
problem for RTC because they
were only 18 inches wide with a
light pole in the middle, impeding access to stops, explains Amy
Cummings, deputy executive director/planning director, RTC.
" There's been so much more
research coming out over the
last couple of years on how pedestrian safety really is an equity issue in our country and some
of those national examples hold
true [here], " Cummings said. " So,
when we're investing in pedestrian safety, we're really investing in
some of our traditionally underserved communities. "
Improved access to bus stops
leads to improved safety, which
translates to a better bus stop,

RTC

BEFORE RTC
upgraded fixedroute bus stops,
sidewalks were
only 18-inches
wide with poles
in the middle
that prevented
access to the
stop.

DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 | MassTransitmag.com | Mass Transit |

17


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Mass Transit

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Mass Transit

Editor's Notebook: Recap of the Year in Two Parts
Q&A with FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams
People & Places
Imagine How COVID-19 Could Shape Mobility for People who Rely on Transit
A Gateway to a Quality Life
Rail Contractors: Skills Honed to Help
Transit Supplier Directory - Company Listings A-Z
Transit Supplier Directory - Product Category Listings
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Mass Transit - Editor's Notebook: Recap of the Year in Two Parts
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Mass Transit - Q&A with FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams
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Mass Transit - People & Places
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Mass Transit - Imagine How COVID-19 Could Shape Mobility for People who Rely on Transit
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