Sound Transit System Access Strategic Plan
Case Studies

Sound Transit System Access Strategic Plan

Puget Sound Region, WA

The plan is approachable and easy to understand, providing a clear framework for identifying and implementing system access investments to achieve Sound Transit’s mission of improving mobility for the central Puget Sound.

Sound Transit builds and operates regional transit services for one of the fastest-growing regions in the United States—the Central Puget Sound. Amidst several multi-billion-dollar expansions to the transit network, Sound Transit maintains a focus on advancing the objectives of the 2013 System Access Policy: grow ridership, increase connectivity, advance social equity, enhance the passenger experience, and improve safety and human health.

Sound Transit engaged Nelson\Nygaard to update the agency’s passenger access policies and procedures and to provide a strategic approach to access planning for the next 25 years of transit expansion in the region. The outcome of our work was a System Access Implementation Plan (SAIP) that describes Sound Transit’s approach to delivering high-quality passenger access that connects people and places throughout the Puget Sound region. The SAIP outlines how the agency integrates access planning in three focus areas: system performance, system expansion, and access funding.

Working with a multidisciplinary team, we began by examining all modes of passenger access throughout the existing system, including pedestrian, bicycle, public and private transit, paratransit, parking, and pick-up/drop-off activity. Early data collection efforts focused on the station environment—including access facilities and gaps—as well as passengers’ access experiences. The team created station profiles and an Access Data Framework to establish the goals of and methodology for future data collection and performance management.

Building on the understanding of station access conditions and needs, we developed Station Access Types that establish priority modes of access and primary and secondary investments for existing and future stations. The access types inform Sound Transit’s Station Experience Design Guide and Planning and Project Development Guidelines, two critical resources for advancing system access objectives through capital project development. The team also created bicycle parking and curb space estimation methodologies, as well as recommendations for parking management strategies.

Finally, the Nelson\Nygaard team developed criteria for the initial System Access Fund distribution, supporting the process to provide $40.6 million in funding to 27 jurisdictions. We used the lessons learned from that process to create an approach for administering the Station Access Allowances, including a non-motorized evaluation framework to support decision-making by capital project teams.

Nelson\Nygaard’s approach to this project focused on broader outcomes for both internal and external stakeholders, recognizing that the System Access Implementation Plan should be a resource to describe how Sound Transit approaches capital and programmatic investments in system access. The plan is approachable and easy to understand, providing a clear framework for identifying and implementing system access investments to achieve Sound Transit’s mission of improving mobility for the central Puget Sound.

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