Featured Research: Locating and Costing Congestion for School Buses and Public Transportation

A busy city street showing mixed modes of transportation, including school buses

It is vital for public and school transportation planning officials to have specialized tools to assist them in ensuring that traffic flows smoothly in their towns without affecting their bottom line.

To do this, STRIDE researcher Kai Monast of the Institute of Transportation Research & Education at North Carolina State University, along with co-PI Dr. Ruth Steiner of the University of Florida, are working on a STRIDE-funded project that will create a tool to help pinpoint where congestion is occurring and how much that congestion costs in order to efficiently operate and fund school and public transportation.

“This research is unique because it quantifies the financial impacts of congestion on school and public transportation at the segment-level, and it combines big data from three different sources representing three different modes to create a large-scale picture of where congestion is most impactful on publicly-supported bus modes,” said Monast.

Kai Monast, MRP, Institute of Transportation Research and Education/NCSU

To create the tool, the researchers will study one community in Florida and one in North Carolina and will gather information from the Regional Integrated Transportation Information System (RITIS), the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) and Educational Logistics (EDULOG). They will also collect information from public and school transportation systems on operating and capital expenses, operating miles and hours, and vehicles replacement standards.

The researchers are hopeful that the tool will show public and school transportation planning officials exactly where congestion is causing delays for school buses and public transit. Mr. Monast said practitioners will also be able to create solutions to decrease costs and increase ridership or level of service. He also added that they would be able to modify bus routes, realign school bus entrances, create new bus lanes, implement queue jumping, and provide input on land use and planning policies.