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City Council Report


City Council Meeting: September 24, 2013

Agenda Item: 8-B  



To: Mayor and City Council 

From: Edward F. King, Director of Transit Services

Subject: Adoption of Big Blue Bus Service Design, Performance & Evaluation Guidelines



Recommended Action


Staff recommends that the City Council adopt the attached Big Blue Bus Service Design, Performance & Evaluation Guidelines.


Executive Summary


Staff has developed planning standards and guidelines for Big Blue Bus (BBB) service, using industry standards and existing BBB policy. These guidelines recommend bus route and service performance metrics, a reporting calendar and structure, and standardized methods of evaluating bus service and bus service proposals to ensure that all services will be evaluated regularly for efficiency and cost effectiveness and the overall viability of new service proposed. The guidelines cover three key topic areas:

       Service Design

       Service Performance

       Service Evaluation




Big Blue Bus has not had an adopted comprehensive set of service planning guidelines or industry standards to evaluate system and route performance. In order to present a more cogent and understandable planning process, and to assist Council and BBB staff in making decisions, staff is recommending that comprehensive planning service design standards and route performance metrics contained in the attached document be adopted by Council. These standards and guidelines also meet recent federal Department of Transportation Civil Rights guidance which requires transit agencies to adopt and publicize a transparent set of guidelines regarding resource allocation.



The attached document was assembled by examining industry standards, current performance levels, and by taking existing sound policy that staff has utilized over the last two-year period to evaluate BBB service levels and service productivity. The attached document recommends using new technologies to collect and evaluate performance data, and the communication of that data on a regular basis. This evaluation process replaces the every three-year Line by Line Analysis with a new quarterly reporting structure. This new structure provides more frequent updates to Council and the information needed to evaluate and take action on evolving problems. Additionally, this document codifies how new routes are evaluated, how resources are allocated, and creates a fair and transparent process in which to engage the public.


The Service Design, Performance, & Evaluation Guidelines are meant to be a living document that can change as the City evolves and as conditions warrant. Changes within the document would respond to external factors such as labor and fuel costs, as well as the evolving wants and needs of the community in such areas as permissible levels of overcrowding, stop spacing, and allocation of shelters and benches. Recommended changes to the document, if any, would be brought to the Council annually.


The Service Design section of the document includes following areas of focus: route design, service area coverage, span of service, service frequency, stop spacing and placement, combining multiple service types, vehicle assignment, bus stop amenities, and connectivity.


The Service Performance section of the document contains seven performance measures that will be used to judge different attributes of system performance as follows:

       Passengers per revenue hour A route-by-route analysis of the average number of passengers carried for each hour of service delivered.

       Passengers per revenue mile A route-by-route analysis of the average number of passengers carried for each mile of service delivered.

       Farebox Recovery A route-by-route analysis of the amount of cost recovered through the farebox, expressed as a percentage of total costs for that route.

       Cost per passenger boarding A route-by-route analysis of the average net cost of carrying each passenger on that route.

       Composite Index An index of the above four efficiency and effectiveness measures that presents a blended overall picture of route performance.

       Passenger Load Factor A route-by-route analysis of the average number of seats occupied, expressed as a percentage of all seats available. A 100% load factor represents a route that averages having all seats occupied at all times.

       On time performance A route-by-route analysis of the amount of time that buses on that route remain on time, expressed as a percentage.


Additionally, this section defines low performing service, average performing service and high performing service, and the steps that should be taken when routes fall short of acceptable performance, including corrective action plans, and timelines for required improvement.


The final section of the document, Service Evaluation, includes the public input process, data collection needs, a service evaluation schedule, and the process for new service evaluation. This section also details the contents of a quarterly reporting system, which includes all of the measures noted above in the Service Performance section.


Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

There is no immediate financial impact or budget action necessary as a result of the recommended action.


Prepared by: Timothy McCormick, Transit Planning Administrator




Forwarded to Council:







Edward F. King

Director, Big Blue Bus


Attachment: Big Blue Bus Standards


Rod Gould

City Manager