Seattle Transit Master Plan: Briefing Book

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Seattle Transit Master Plan: Briefing Book, prepared by Nelson\Nygaard Assoc for the Seattle Department of Transportation, Washington (2011)

      This guide includes information relative to the location, design and spacing of transit stops for various forms of transit service. For example:


“Streetcars and local bus services with more frequent stops, must consider access along the entire length of the line as a critical component of the service, while Link light rail and Sounder commuter rail services typically have a greater investment in access to fewer stations and rely on feeder transit service. Future service planning and route re-organization should reconcile the competing goals of increased access to high frequency transit lines and elevated service quality, as shorter distances between stops hinders reliability and vehicle operating speeds….. (p. 3-5) Transit will need to balance access to service for Seattle’s neighborhoods with adequate stop spacing and sufficiently high operating speeds to ensure competitive regional travel times.” p. 5-30


Section 7 of this plan addresses best practices for facilitating safe and convenient transit access by bicylists and pedestrians in the City of Seattle. It includes draft guidelines from the City of Oakland, California. Below are pertinent transit guidelines.

  • Transit-only lanes located in centers of roadways should be physically separated from mixed-flow lanes, using barriers such as mountable curbs, medians, or other positive separations to reduce violation rates.
  • Stops should be located based on maximizing transit connectivity and direct access to major transit trip generators. Where it is necessary to shift the locations of stops from their “optimal” locations, they should not be located more than 500 feet away.
  • All BRT stops should feature raised platform areas enabling level boarding of buses, regardless of whether a transit lane is provided.
  • All BRT stops also used by other transit services should be at least 120 feet in length.
  • All BRT stops should be equipped, at minimum, with a “baseline” package of amenities including no less than two shelters, with benches; digital displays of real-time arrival information; fare machines; route and system maps; garbage bins; ADA-standard wheelchair ramps and truncated domes along edges of platforms; and signage, clearly visible to riders aboard buses, identifying the stop location. In addition, stops located in medians should feature fences and platform “taper” areas designed to discourage jaywalking.
  • Stops should be located on the far sides of intersections.
  • Sidewalk stops should be located on “bulb-out” extensions, allowing buses to stop directly in their path of travel. This policy should be applied regardless of whether a dedicated lane is provided.
  • BRT stops, when combined with local service, should be located no less than 1,000 feet and no more than 2,000 feet apart.
  • Any restrictions on vehicle circulation should not require realignment of transit routes.
  • Where stops in one direction are not visible from the nearest stop in the opposite direction, clear and prominent signage should be displayed along a high-quality pedestrian path between the stops.
  • To the extent possible given design specifications (e.g., 13-inch-high platforms), median transitways should be designed to accommodate other transit services, including paratransit services. In some locations, it may be desirable to allow taxis to use transitways for travel but not for stops. Curbside transitways in neighbor­hood commercial districts must accommodate delivery vehicle access to sidewalk “cutout” loading spaces.
  • The following hierarchy of transit rights-of-way should be applied (starting with the most desirable basic configuration): transit-only lanes in the center of the roadway that are physically separated from traffic; center lanes separated from traffic by pavement treatments; outside lanes adjacent to curbs; outside lanes between travel and parking lanes; mixed-flow lanes.
  • Where it is not possible to provide dedicated rights-of-way for transit, or where needed for additional speed and reliability improvements, alternative treatments designed to reduce delay should be strongly considered. These include “queue jumps” consisting of transit-only lanes for a short distance in advance of intersections, as well as transit-only signal phases; consolidation of BRT stops; alternative alignments; and improved signal priority. (Queue jump and median transit lane best practices and lessons learned are discussed on pages 7-33 to 7-36)

      Also notable is the discussion of the Denver Regional Transportation District’s Transit Access Guidelines, enacted “to ensure that transit access is improved comprehensively and consistently and to support coordination with other entities. These guidelines encourage access to the transit system through a hierarchy of modes, in order of priority: pedestrians, bus riders, bicyclists, vehicles (short-term parking), and vehicles (long-term parking). Guidelines are specific to transit modes including light rail, commuter rail, and bus transit. Specific design standards such as walk speeds, platform design dimensions, access points, path distances to entrances, and sight line considerations are included. The guidelines also promote transit-oriented development principles in joint development projects and require that pedestrian-oriented design, density, and mix of land uses support transit access be considered during review.” (p. 7-49)

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