Transit Analysis Positive

October 3, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Rapid transit system appears to have scored well on its first ever Comprehensive Operational Analysis, according to preliminary results presented to the Interurban Transit Partnership board Wednesday.

The COA project, which was launched about six months ago, evaluated everything — bus routes, schedules, service and stop locations.

Tim Crobons of Manuel Padron & Associates said consultants looked at the performance of all routes, service frequency, night and weekend service, transfer patterns, hours of service, and service demands and complaints. It also incorporated ridership survey data, feedback from The Rapid staff, bus drivers and dispatchers, as well as public input from three community forums held in May.

"Ultimately, the purpose is to create service recommendations to optimize bus service," Crobons explained at a community forum earlier this year. "Is there anything that's inefficient today that we can improve? Is there anything we can expand upon? We're really focusing on two time frames: the near term of one to three years, and the short range of four to five years."

Crobons said he was "very impressed" with The Rapid transit system.

"We do this analysis all over the country," he said. "A lot of systems aren't doing so well and haven't done a comprehensive review of their systems in a very long time. Very often staff doesn't know the services well, they lack the data and services are not serving the community well."

He said consultants found a number of strengths in The Rapid's system, such as efficient use of available resources, as well as the system's service frequency, coverage, transfer connections and route structure. Crobons also said he was impressed with the staff and their knowledge of the system.

"Everybody I talked to here really knew the service," he said. "The most important thing is the data that you have and the way in which you analyze that data. Probably Denver is the only other transit authority that does something of this caliber and has excellent data collection."

Peter Varga, executive director and CEO of The Rapid, had recommended the transit system undergo a comprehensive analysis route by route to see what impact improvements that were implemented in 2000-2001 through January of this year had made and what the overall quality of the service was system wide.

Among the preliminary recommendations were daily service to GeraldR.FordInternationalAirport, the addition of six new service routes, the purchase of two new buses in one to three years and eight more buses over the next four to five years, and an expanded evening and weekend transit network.

Some 80 percent of the cost of the $272,000 COA project was covered by a federal grant, 10 percent by a state grant, plus a 10 percent local match, according to Varga.    

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