Best Practices for Light Rail Design

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					                      Vancouver Working Group

                            Federal Highway     Federal Transit
                             Administration     Administration

  SW Washington Regional
  Transportation Council               C-TRAN                     City of Vancouver

  Metro                                TriMet                     City of Portland

                 TABLE OF CONTENTS
                 I. PROJECT DESCRIPTION
                 Introduction                                    1

                 Definition                                       1
                 Identification of Best Practices                 1
                 Summary of Topics                               2

                 Community Building                              3
                 Station Location and Design                     6
                 Street Configuration and Design                  9
                 Parking                                        13
                 Connections to Stations                        16
                 Station Security                               19
                 Construction Impacts and Mitigation            22

Vancouver Working Group

   I.      Introduction
   Project Description
   A component of the Columbia River Crossing Project (CRC) is an
   extension of TriMet’s light rail system across the Columbia River
   into the City of Vancouver (the City). The design and operation
   of light rail transit (LRT) in a dense urban environment requires                             SR 14                                         SR 500
                                                                                              Interchange                                    Inter
   a thoughtful design process. The details of street configuration,                                               Mill Plain
                                                                                                                                4th Plain
   access changes, turning movements, sidewalk widths, and
   trackway treatments are important to property owners, business            Columbia River

   owners, residents, and city traffic engineers. These details
   impact project costs, schedule, and community character.
   This report on Best Practices for Light Rail Design is primarily for     The Columbia River Crossing project will improve mobility,
                                                                            travel times, and safety by addressing substandard
   the benefit of the citizens of Vancouver, who will be addressing          features at the Interstate Bridge and seven interchanges
   light rail design issues for the first time. It will also benefit agency   in Vancouver, Hayden Island, and north Portland. The
   staff and elected officials who are charged with implementing             project includes the extension of light rail to Vancouver.
   light rail in a way that meets the needs of Vancouver citizens.
   “Best practices” are not a rigid set of design standards. Instead,
   they provide guidance based upon what has and has not worked
   in other cities during the 25 years that light rail systems have
   been in operation in American cities.
   The report was prepared by David Evans & Associates, Inc.
   (DEA) with input from CRC staff.

   II.     Purpose of Best Practices
   A general definition of a “best practice” is a technique, method,
   process, or activity that has demonstrated a superior level of
   effectiveness at achieving a desired outcome. For light rail in
   the City of Vancouver, a best practice is a technique, method,
   process, or activity that will be most effective at delivering the
   desired outcome for light rail in Vancouver. It is also important to
   understand that what constitutes a “best practice” elsewhere may
   not be right for Vancouver. As the design process progresses,
   the Vancouver Working Group may wish to establish its own best
   practices for light rail implementation in the City of Vancouver.

   Identification of Best Practices
                                                                            Citizens of Vancouver will consider a range of
  Best practices for light rail design fall into a number of different      best practices for the light rail design through their
  topic areas. For purposes of Vancouver light rail, we selected            community.
  topics based upon the issues that would be most relevant and
1 helpful to citizens, property owners, and city staff. Within each
  topic area, we then identified a few primary best practices. This                            LIGHT RAIL BEST PRACTICES
  list is not exhaustive. Much more could be said about each topic

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                       BEST PRACTICES for LIGHT RAIL DESIGN
                       Project Description

                                                              and about each best practice. However, these topics and best
                                                              practices provide a solid basis for citizens and property owners to
                                                              provide input on the issues most critical to them.

                                                              Summary of Topics
                                                              1. Community Building focuses on ways to collaborate with
                                                                 the community to develop a LRT system that supports
                                                                 the community’s vision and is well integrated into the
                                                                 neighborhoods through which it travels.
                                                              2. Station Location and Design addresses ways to locate
                                                                 and design light rail stations to reflect and protect distinctive
                                                                 community character and context.
                                                              3. Street Configuration and Design examines the options
                                                                 associated with the width and number of automobile travel
In San Jose, the transit authority developed a manual of         lanes, turning lanes, bicycle lanes, sidewalk widths, crossing
best practices for integrating land use and transportation       treatments, bus stop locations and waiting areas, bus stops
to encourage transit-supportive development around               (pull-out or in-lane stops), LRT guideway width, platform
stations. Recent office developments, such as this                width and design, and transit waiting areas.
building in Mountain View, have responded by placing
the building entrance at the front of the street and          4. Parking addresses how vehicle parking can be successfully
putting parking lots in the back of the building, resulting      integrated into transit design.
in shorter walking distances from the light rail station to
buildings and street-level pedestrian areas. (Source:         5. Connections to Stations reviews the design and quality
David Evans and Associates)                                      of the pedestrian, bike, and bus connections to light rail
                                                                 stations that have a significant influence on transit use and
                                                                 community impacts.
                                                              6. Station Security focuses on fostering the perception of
                                                                 transit station and park-and-ride safety for users and the
                                                                 surrounding community.
                                                              7. Construction Impacts and Mitigation addresses relieving
                                                                 the temporary negative effects of light rail construction on
                                                                 citizens and businesses.

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         Community Building

   Community Building
   In order to develop an efficient LRT system that supports the
   community’s planning vision and is well integrated into the
   neighborhood through which it travels, the community must be
   involved in the design process.
   Light rail in Vancouver is a substantial change in the City’s
   transportation infrastructure and will be a catalyst for new
   development. These best practices explore how to integrate light
   rail into communities, engage the community, and support local
   planning objectives.

   Why It Matters
   LRT is not just about moving people from one point to another.
   It is also about building community. Done properly, light rail        The City of Vancouver has established neighborhoods
   systems will help communities fulfill their vision and their values.   with a strong sense of community. (Source: David Evans
                                                                         and Associates)
   The City of Vancouver’s Comprehensive Plan and Vancouver
   City Center Vision and Subarea Plan minimize sprawl and
   revitalize downtown Vancouver through new public and private
   investment. LRT is one way to stimulate new development and
   reduce dependence on the automobile. Engaging community
   representatives in early and frequent communication about the
   details of light rail design will result in better design.

   Best Practice 1: Establish a clear vision and
   confirm the community goals for the light rail
   Establish a vision and stick to it. The City of Vancouver has
   created a vision that should guide the development of light rail.
   Light rail should support change that the community wants—not
   change it does not want. The right change will happen if the
   project begins with a clear consensus on what people want from

   Best Practice 2: Engage the community in the
   planning, design, construction, and operation of
   the system.
  Local community members have wisdom and knowledge that
  can enhance project success. An important aspect of community
3                                                                        Public involvement in the design details helps promote a
  engagement is disclosure of information throughout the process,        sense of ownership for light rail projects. (Source: David
  which includes: review of environmental analysis of alternatives;                  LIGHT RAIL
                                                                         Evans and Associates) BEST PRACTICES

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                      BEST PRACTICES for LIGHT RAIL DESIGN
                       Community Building

                                                            selection of a preferred alternative; design of the project,
                                                            including identification of impacts and mitigation; and construction
                                                            and operation of the system. Additionally, the community should
                                                            be involved in monitoring and review of mitigation measures,
                                                            such as effectiveness of noise mitigation during construction and
                                                            residential parking permit programs once the system is operating.
                                                            Computer visualization was identified by other systems as
                                                            a useful technique for depicting pre- and post-construction

                                                            Best Practice 3: In neighborhoods adjacent to
                                                            light rail, incorporate the neighborhood’s land use
                                                            vision from Vancouver’s Comprehensive Plan.
                                                            Light rail should be consistent with the goals and policies of the
Orenco Station Transit Oriented Development in Hillsboro,   City’s Comprehensive Plan and Subarea Plans. Specific goals to
OR, includes 450 single-family detached and townhouse       be affirmed include:
units and 1,384 apartments at a density of 9.2 units per
acre. (Source: David Evans and Associates)                      ▪ Preserving the character of existing residential
                                                                   neighborhoods; and

                                                                ▪ Continuing the urban intensification of downtown.

                                                            Best Practice 4: Where consistent with the City’s
                                                            land use vision, encourage the development of
                                                            projects adjacent to light rail that create active and
                                                            inviting public places, services for neighborhood
                                                            residents, and densities that will enhance
                                                            Characteristics of these kinds of developments include:
                                                                ▪ Emphasizes being “a place, not a project”;
                                                                ▪ Includes housing as well as other uses;
                                                                ▪ Incorporates higher urban scale densities;
                                                                ▪ Is pedestrian-oriented;
                                                                ▪ Has density that tapers down to adjacent lower density
                                                                   communities; and

This development, located near Denver Union Station,            ▪ Is integrated into the station and/or the neighborhood.
the transit hub for area’s light rail system, provides
pedestrian connections across a nearby freight line to
the neighborhood beyond. (Source: David Evans and

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          Community Building

    The community’s vision should guide the design of light
    rail. Integrating light rail into an existing neighborhood can
    be a catalyst for new neighborhood amenities and features.
    Identifying these new amenities is best accomplished by
    engaging the community in the planning and design process.

                                                                     Fruitvale Station in Oakland, CA, is a redevelopment
                                                                     project on a commercial strip near a Bay Area Rapid
                                                                     Transit station that includes retail, office, and housing
                                                                     elements. (Source: David Evans and Associates)

                                                                     In San Jose, the transit authority has worked closely
                                                                     with the City to facilitate desired residential development
                                                                     around stations. At Whisman Station, town homes were
                                                                     developed immediately adjacent to the light rail line.
                                                                     (Source: David Evans and Associates)

                                                                                LIGHT RAIL BEST PRACTICES

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                     BEST PRACTICES for LIGHT RAIL DESIGN
                     Station Location and Design

                                                         Station Location and Design
                                                         Light rail stations and facilities should reflect distinct community
                                                         character and context. Protecting neighborhoods from potential
                                                         impacts, including noise, vibration, parking infringement, station
                                                         access, intrusive lighting, and station security is critical.

                                                         Why It Matters
                                                         An ideal light rail station becomes an extension of the community
                                                         it serves. Stations should be located where benefits are
This San Diego station uses architectural detailing      enhanced and impacts minimized, using quality materials,
that is consistent with the surrounding community and    generous landscaping, and pedestrian-oriented development.
complements the area’s identity. (Source: David Evans    Stations should incorporate art, parks, and safe public spaces.
and Associates)
                                                         Effective station location and design also provides defined
                                                         transitions between public and private properties. It helps
                                                         integrate LRT stations into communities and makes the station
                                                         an important and cared-for public space.

                                                         Best Practice 1: Design light rail facilities and
                                                         stations to be an extension of the community.
                                                         C-TRAN and the City want to create an efficient system that
                                                         optimizes ridership. Neighborhoods want facilities designed to fit
                                                         within the existing character and become a neighborhood asset.
                                                         Transit facilities and infrastructure, including stations, track bed,
                                                         supports, power poles, noise walls, ancillary buildings, etc.,
                                                         should be designed with sensitivity to local context and integrated
                                                         with Vancouver neighborhoods and business districts. Station
                                                         design should use complementary building materials and should
                                                         include landscaping. Mitigation for project impacts should be
                                                         incorporated as early as possible into the design and engineering
Appropriately scaled and well-integrated art can         of the project.
make light rail stations attractive and complement the
surrounding community. (Source: City of Bellevue)
                                                         Best Practice 2: Design and maintain high quality
                                                         stations that are an asset to the community.
                                                         The stations need to reflect the character and community
                                                         standards of the City of Vancouver. Neighborhoods and
                                                         downtown are well maintained, and the light rail facilities should
                                                         reflect a similar commitment. The stations should be constructed
                                                         with high quality, durable materials; have good pedestrian
                                                         connections into the adjacent neighborhoods; receive regular and
                                                         frequent security and maintenance attention; and be designed
                                                         to maximize positive effects and minimize negative effects on
                                                         adjacent properties.
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          Station Location and Design

    Best Practice 3: Invest in infrastructure to make
    stations and adjacent development successful.
    The most important infrastructure investment is in sidewalks.
    Transit riders are pedestrians during some part of their journey.
    Quality pedestrian connections from stations to adjacent
    neighborhoods and to adjacent development are essential.

    Best Practice 4: Develop station area plans once
    the locations are known and before design and
    development of the stations.
    Station area plans can be developed by the City and the
    community to address the specific issues related to development
    of the station and the immediate vicinity. These plans can be
                                                                        A single-family neighborhood retained next to a light rail
    used to preserve existing residential areas and to encourage
                                                                        station in San Jose. (Source: City of Bellevue)
    transit-oriented development.

    Best Practice 5: Employ design features at
    stations to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist
    Design elements, such as bedstead barriers that force bicyclists
    to dismount before crossing tracks, separate entrances for
    pedestrians and automobiles, pedestrian crossing gates, and
    tactile warning strips, all serve to increase pedestrian and
    bicyclist safety.

    Best Practice 6: Design the light rail stations and
    line, and any street modifications, to avoid and
    minimize potential impacts.
    Thoughtful design can prevent many negative impacts to              Station design in downtown San Jose, CA. (Source: City
    surrounding communities. Station and track lighting should be       of Bellevue)
    designed to illuminate the platform and pedestrian access area
    while preventing light pollution in adjacent areas. Stations and
    approaches should have clear sight lines to increase visibility
    and safety. Where negative impacts cannot be prevented
    through system design, physical mitigation measures should be
    designed to be context-sensitive and attractive by building at an
    appropriate scale for the surrounding area and incorporating high
    quality materials.

                                                                                   LIGHT RAIL BEST PRACTICES

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                       BEST PRACTICES for LIGHT RAIL DESIGN
                       Station Location and Design

                                                             Best Practice 7: Accommodate the widest range
                                                             of users in the design of streets and sidewalks
                                                             adjacent to light rail stations.
                                                             Universal design is generally defined as design that
                                                             accommodates the widest range of potential users, including
                                                             people with mobility and visual impairments and other special
                                                             needs, such as people with bicycles, baby strollers, and
                                                             handcarts. These principles are consistent with the other best
                                                             practices that address safety at station areas and ensure a high
                                                             quality pedestrian environment in the vicinity of stations.

                                                             Good station location and design decisions can successfully
                                                             integrate light rail in ways that reflect and enhance the
                                                             surrounding community.

Materials, landscaping, and architecture at Orenco Station
in Hillsboro, OR, reflect community history. Orenco takes
its name from the “Oregon Nursery Company,” the original
landowner. Vegetation and art play a significant role at
the station and surrounding developments. (Source:
David Evans and Associates)

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         Street Configuration and Design

   Street Configuration and Design
   Light rail will share Vancouver streets with pedestrians, bicycles,
   automobiles, buses, and other vehicles. Street design includes
   decisions about width and number of automobile travel lanes,
   provision of turning lanes and bicycle lanes, sidewalk widths,
   crossing treatments, bus stop locations and waiting areas,
   bus stops (pull-out or in-lane stops), LRT guideway width,
   platform width and design, and transit waiting areas. The street
   configuration must balance the needs of the different travel
   modes within a confined space. A concern in Vancouver is the
   limited amount of space that is available within the street right-of-
   ways for different transportation facilities (sidewalks, bike lanes,
   auto lanes, transit guideway, bus stops, and transit platforms).
                                                                           Tactile warnings and distinctive paving patterns and
                                                                           colors indicate to pedestrians that the zone is shared
                                                                           with a transit line, as shown here in Sacramento, CA.
   Why It Matters                                                          (Source: Flickr Paul Kimo)

   Light rail trains and stations share busy street environments
   with vehicles, bicycle, and pedestrians. There is only one
   chance to find the right balance among all those uses, so careful
   consideration of the design options is essential early in the design
   process. Pedestrians, bicycles, and other vehicles moving
   at various speeds and directions, in various light and weather
   conditions, make street design critical to ensuring safety for all
   users. Trains must stay on schedule to deliver a predictable,
   attractive service. Travel times along routes must be efficient and
   consistent to ensure that scheduled station stops are predictable
   and reliable.

   Best Practice 1: Minimize confusion and maximize
   predictability for all street users.
   The safety of roadway and station areas can be enhanced
   by increasing the predictability for drivers, bicyclists, and           Distinct signals for light rail trains reduce confusion for
                                                                           motorists and help to prevent collisions. The horizontal
   pedestrians. Predictability can be achieved by limiting movement
                                                                           light bar on the left is for light rail trains; the standard
   choices. For example, bedstead barriers, which are barriers that        street signal on the right is for other vehicles. (Source:
   are staggered or offset like a maze, force bicyclists to dismount       David Evans and Associates)
   before crossing tracks, providing more predictability for train
  The use of street design features, materials, street signage,
  and lane markings provides clear, unambiguous direction to
  drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Traffic control devices should
9 be applied uniformly and consistently throughout the system,
  including distinct light rail signals. When safety dictates (e.g.,
                                                                                       LIGHT RAIL BEST PRACTICES
  to prevent non-rail vehicles from crossing or driving on tracks),

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                     BEST PRACTICES for LIGHT RAIL DESIGN
                      Street Configuration and Design

                                                          physical barriers should be used to separate trains from other

                                                          Best Practice 2: Maximize visibility at transit
                                                          stops, intersections, and railroad crossings.
                                                          Design should consider the visibility from the perspective of
                                                          train operators, other vehicle drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians,
                                                          and wheelchair users. Pedestrian visibility, and therefore safety,
                                                          is also a function of the size, age, and ability of the individual
                                                          Safe designs ensure that the train operator has a clear view
                                                          of the station, trackways, and crossing areas. Train operators
                                                          must be able to see the station area and crossing areas to be
Minneapolis trackway with brick pavers sidewalk.          sure they are clear of pedestrians, bicycles, and other vehicles.
(Source: David Evans and Associates)                      Successful design also provides pedestrians, drivers, and
                                                          bicyclists a clear view of tracks, roadways, and sidewalks so they
                                                          can make decisions about maneuvering. Lighting is important
                                                          at the pedestrian and street level, but lighting design must also
                                                          ensure that nearby neighborhoods are protected from glare.

                                                          Best Practice 3: Use design to enhance
                                                          pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
                                                          Design elements, such as bedstead barriers that force bicyclists
                                                          to dismount before crossing tracks, separate entrances for
                                                          pedestrians and automobiles, pedestrian crossing gates, and
                                                          tactile warning strips, all serve to increase pedestrian and
                                                          bicyclist safety.
Street configuration and tactile curbs in San Jose.
(Source: City of Bellevue)
                                                          Best Practice 4: Design stations, tracks, and street
                                                          modifications to avoid and minimize potential
                                                          Thoughtful design can prevent many negative impacts to
                                                          surrounding communities. Station and track lighting should
                                                          illuminate the platform and pedestrian access area while
                                                          preventing light pollution in adjacent areas. Stations and
                                                          approaches should have clear sight lines to increase visibility and
                                                          safety. Where negative impacts cannot be prevented through
                                                          system design, physical mitigation measures should be context-
                                                          sensitive and attractive by building at an appropriate scale for the
                                                          surrounding area and incorporating high quality materials.

Exclusive and shared use trackway delineation in Jersey   Light rail vehicles should be separated from other vehicles,
City, NJ. (Source: David Evans and Associates)            either physically with grade separation (i.e., elevated or tunnel)

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           Street Configuration and Design

     and/or barriers, or with the use of separate, distinct traffic signals.
     Where it is not possible to separate vehicles, street design should
     minimize track curves to reduce potential conflicts and traffic
     Accidents between cars and light rail vehicles can occur if an
     automobile turns illegally in front of a moving train. Adding
     protected left- and right-turn lanes to the roadway, and making
     them long enough to safely channel cars in traffic, can reduce
     conflicts. However, with limited right-of-way in Vancouver, this is a
     challenge. Train movements and car movements that are totally
     separated by traffic light controls can also help. It is important
     to coordinate traffic signal phasing and timing to prevent cross-
     street traffic from stopping on and blocking the tracks.
     The Transportation Research Board recommends providing an                Belgium block in at-grade trackway in downtown Portland,
                                                                              OR. (Source: David Evans and Associates)
     entirely distinct set of signals for light rail and also recommends
     that the signal system be employed consistently throughout the
     light rail system. Appropriate signals will not only inform light
     rail drivers, but will make it clear to pedestrians, bicyclists, and
     automobile drivers when light rail vehicles are approaching.

     Best Practice 5: Accommodate a wide range
     of users in the design of streets and sidewalks
     adjacent to light rail stations.
     Universal design is generally defined as design that
     accommodates the widest range of potential users, including
     people with mobility and visual impairments and other special
     needs, such as people with bicycles, baby strollers, and
     handcarts. These principles are consistent with the other best
     practices that address safety at station areas and ensure a high
     quality pedestrian environment in the vicinity of stations.
                                                                              San Diego’s downtown blocks are short and, as a
                                                                              result, longer trains (e.g., three and four cars long) block
     Best Practice 6: Provide sidewalks that are                              intersections when the train is at a station. (Source:
                                                                              David Evans and Associates)
     adequate for all uses.
     Sidewalks should be a minimum of 12 feet wide. Sidewalks in
     downtown Vancouver must accommodate three functions: a
     merchant area, pedestrian walking area, and curbside furnishings
     area. If the sidewalk also serves as a bus stop waiting area, then
     additional width in the furnishing area and pedestrian area may
     be necessary to facilitate through pedestrian movements and to
     avoid impacting the merchant area.

                                                                                          LIGHT RAIL BEST PRACTICES

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                      BEST PRACTICES for LIGHT RAIL DESIGN
                       Street Configuration and Design

                                                             Best Practice 7: Give transit signals the priority in
                                                             order to optimize transit operation.
                                                             Traffic signals can be designed to improve traffic flow and help
                                                             transit and other vehicle operate efficiently when sharing right-of-
                                                             way. Traffic signal priority is a commonly used tool that minimizes
                                                             transit congestion at major intersections. When a LRT vehicle is
                                                             approaching, traffic signal priority extends the green light or turns
                                                             it green sooner. Signals should also be phased, where possible,
                                                             to minimize the amount of time pedestrians must wait to cross

                                                             The street right-of-way provides a limited space shared by
At-grade light rail separated from street in San Jose, CA.   multiple travel modes. Best practices emphasize reducing
(Source: City of Bellevue)
                                                             opportunities for conflict; improving visibility for everyone in the
                                                             roadway environment; improving the predictability of pedestrians,
                                                             bicyclists, and automobiles in the transit environment; and
                                                             providing adequate sidewalks.

Goose Hollow Station, adjacent to downtown Portland,
OR, has a distinctive trackway created by special paving.
(Source: City of Bellevue)

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     Parking at light rail stations can take two forms: park-and-ride
     structures and on-street parking. Park-and-ride structures will
     be developed in connection with the light rail project. Design
     and location considerations include the ground floor character
     of the parking structures, traffic impacts, and distance from
     the platform. Parking issues include management of on-street
     parking in commercial areas and prevention of spillover parking
     in residential neighborhoods.

     Why It Matters                                                         Parking architecture in Harvard Square, MA, uses
     The park-and-ride structures proposed in Vancouver are an              the local aesthetics to integrate garages into the
                                                                            neighborhood. (Source: Stephanie Groll)
     essential part of the project because they will enhance ridership
     and reduce automobile commuting. Two of the parking structures
     will be located in downtown Vancouver. They will be major
     structures within the downtown environment and have impacts
     on traffic and the pedestrian environment. The design of these
     structures should be consistent with the City’s downtown land
     use and transportation policies.
     There is always a possibility that light rail patrons will utilize
     parking supplied by businesses for their customers, especially
     if the park-and-ride structures are full. Spillover parking in
     residential areas is also a concern that can be addressed through
     the right management practices.

     Best Practice 1: Carefully locate and design
     parking near transit.
     Large park-and-ride structures increase light rail ridership. Unless
     designed properly, they can conflict with the character of a            Landscaped pedestrian walkway in Dallas connects
     downtown environment.                                                  a bus transit center and park-and-ride lot to a light rail
                                                                            station. (Source: City of Bellevue)
     The Urban Land Institute states four principles for parking
     1. Move it – Development immediately adjacent to the station
        should be devoted to pedestrian-oriented mixed-use
        development, not parking structures. It’s convenient for
        transit users and good for businesses when park-and-ride
        users walk past coffee shops, restaurants, personal services,
        etc. on the way to their cars.
     2. Share it - Churches, events centers, etc. use parking at
13      different times and parking can be shared, saving space.
     3. Deck it - Parking can be “stacked” in structures.                              LIGHT RAIL BEST PRACTICES

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                       BEST PRACTICES for LIGHT RAIL DESIGN

                                                              4. Wrap it - Finally, placing commercial and retail uses facing
                                                                 the street on the bottom floor and integrating the structure
                                                                 with landscaping or architectural styles that reflect local
                                                                 character creates an engaging street environment and
                                                                 provides for a built-in market (the transit users) for shopping
                                                                 and dining.

                                                              Best Practice 2: Size your parking appropriately
                                                              for the customers being served.
                                                              The park-and-ride structures have been sized based on
                                                              ridership projections. However, these structures are located in
                                                              a downtown environment where adjacent commercial activities
                                                              could also be served by parking. If there is demand, parking
                                                              could be provided to serve downtown businesses. Conversely,
In Boulder, CO, the parking structure’s materials and         if too much parking is provided, it can reduce the viability of
design fit with the general architectural style of the area.
                                                              commercial lots and reduce city revenues derived from publicly
(Source: David Evans and Associates)
                                                              owned parking, including on-street parking.

                                                              Best Practice 3: Be proactive in addressing
                                                              potential parking impacts to adjacent
                                                              “Spillover” issues that may affect neighborhoods adjacent
                                                              to transit stations include parking on neighborhood streets,
                                                              cut-through traffic, and noise. A best practice for preventing
                                                              unwanted parking is a residential parking permit program such as
                                                              the one already used in central Vancouver. Additionally, traffic-
                                                              calming measures and enforcement of residential speed limits
                                                              could help to reduce neighborhood cut-through traffic that may
                                                              result from transit construction or operation. Signage and regular
                                                              enforcement are critical to effectiveness. Noise issues that arise
                                                              typically relate to train horns, crossing bells, and wheel noise
                                                              on curved track. Track maintenance and automatic greasing
                                                              mechanisms can address wheel noise.
Residential parking permit programs can prevent transit
patrons from parking in adjacent residential areas.
(Source: David Evans and Associates)
                                                              Best Practice 4: Park-and-ride facilities should
                                                              be located where they can provide convenient
                                                              access to light rail for Vancouver neighborhoods
                                                              not directly served by light rail. They should be
                                                              integrated into the surrounding environment.
                                                              Park-and-ride facilities are needed to serve transit riders from
                                                              Vancouver and other communities and significantly increase
                                                              ridership. However, this need for access should be balanced
                                                              against the potential negative land use and transportation

14                                                                                                    Vancouver Working Group

     consequences. The lots should be located near stations and
     be designed to fit into the surrounding environment. Decisions
     about locating new or expanding existing park-and-rides must
     balance available space, the amount of riders using the lot to
     reach transit, and local impacts. If the Vancouver system is
     extended farther from the downtown, park-and-ride lots can be
     placed in more ideal locations, away from major activity centers,
     and can capture riders before they enter downtown.
     Park-and-ride facilities should provide priority spaces to
     motorcycles and carpools, reserve car-sharing spaces in high-
     profile locations, use design features to slow down cars, and
     design comfortable and safe pedestrian environments.
                                                                             A park-and-ride lot in Dallas is visible from the light rail
                                                                             station. (Source: David Evans and Associates)

     Park-and-ride lots are a major element of the Vancouver light
     rail project. The size, location, and integration of these facilities
     must be carefully considered. Project planners must also be
     aware of the potential parking-related impacts on businesses and

                                                                                         LIGHT RAIL BEST PRACTICES

     Vancouver Working Group                                                                                                                15
                     BEST PRACTICES for LIGHT RAIL DESIGN
                      Connections to Stations

                                                          Connections to Stations
                                                          A light rail transit system should provide safe and convenient
                                                          access to the community it serves. In Vancouver, transit riders
                                                          will access light rail on foot, by bicycle, in buses, and possibly in
                                                          shuttles, carpools, and single-occupant vehicles. Pedestrians
                                                          need sidewalks, paths, and street crossings to make getting
                                                          to the station safe and easy. Bicycle connections are also
                                                          important, not only at the station platforms, but farther out.

                                                          Why It Matters
                                                          Good connections to stations have a significant influence on
                                                          transit use and reduce community impacts. For transit riders,
                                                          travel to and from the light rail station is integral part of their
                                                          overall trip. Therefore, the light rail system must be coordinated
Milwaukie Light Rail Rhine Street Station Assessment
                                                          with pedestrian and bicycle facilities, bus transfers, drop-off
showing a five-minute walk. (Source: David Evans and       areas, and parking.
                                                          Research indicates that people are willing to walk approximately
                                                          ten minutes to get to a light rail station. For this reason,
                                                          the most successful transit systems have safe, comfortable
                                                          walking environments within the ten-minute walking area
                                                          and accommodate riders of all ages and abilities. Wayfinding
                                                          signage near stations and on the platforms is critical to riders’
                                                          understanding, comfort, and security. Pedestrians prefer direct
                                                          walking routes with minimum delay and will cross illegally if
                                                          designated routes are not direct. Bicycle riders also use light rail
                                                          and will typically ride up to two miles to access a station.
                                                          The best station design integrates kiss-and-ride, taxi, shuttle, and
                                                          transit drop-off zones. These zones allow riders to move quickly
                                                          and safely from one mode of transportation to another.
                                                          Bus and shuttle connections extend light rail access to an even
                                                          greater area. Bus systems can deliver riders to the light rail
                                                          system, provide a backup to service interruptions, reduce parking
                                                          needs at light rail stations, and introduce more activity to stations.
Fences can deter people from running across the tracks,   Park-and-ride lots can also increase ridership by capturing large
as shown here in Charlotte, NC. (Source: Flickr Doug      numbers of riders from areas that are otherwise not well served
Letterman)                                                by transit. Determining when and where to provide park-and-ride
                                                          lots will depend on each station’s purpose and context.
                                                          Park-and-ride lots can contribute significantly to ridership in
                                                          Vancouver, and whether and where to provide them is a function
                                                          of station purpose and context. Park-and-ride lots further extend
                                                          light rail access by capturing large numbers of riders from areas
                                                          that are otherwise not well served by transit.

16                                                                                                 Vancouver Working Group
           Connections to Stations

     Best Practice 1: Provide connections to the
     station that are safe, secure, and convenient for
     pedestrians and bicycle riders.
     Direct, well-lit, and well-maintained sidewalks should connect
     stations to the adjacent community. Connections to nearby
     buildings should be pedestrian-friendly. Pedestrian crossings
     should occur every 200 feet, even at midblock. Crosswalks
     should be marked and lighted. Bus stops should be near the
     station and have clear, direct pedestrian connections to the
     station platform. Every LRT rider enters and exits the station
     platform as a pedestrian. The station platform should be
     spacious enough to accommodate expected volumes. Seating,                Pathways connect Orenco Gardens, a multi- and single-
     art, and street furniture can help to humanize the station               family development at Orenco Station in Hillsboro, OR, to
                                                                              the light rail station. (Source: City of Bellevue)
     For transit-riding bicyclists, there should be dedicated bike lanes
     and paths, ramps for access to platforms, and adequate, secure
     bike storage at stations. Bicycle parking should be convenient,
     well-lit, sufficient to meet seasonal demand, and designed so
     bicyclists can ride up to it. Signage should explain how bicycle
     and transit networks relate.

     Best Practice 2: Provide transit feeder service to
     light rail.
     The Vancouver downtown is already a central hub for the majority         This image shows a bike lane parallel to a light rail
     of Clark County’s bus service. This service can extend light             station, providing a direct connection to and from the
                                                                              station. (Source: Valley Metro)
     rail access to more people and reduce parking demand at light
     rail stations. Enhanced bus and shuttle services can transport
     people from neighborhoods and major activity centers to light
     rail. These services should be coordinated with light rail design
     and planning. Bus stops should be designed to minimize walking
     distances and avoid street crossings. Where a street must be
     crossed, the bus stop should be located adjacent to a marked
     crosswalk. Ideally, the transit stops will be clearly visible from the
     Having drop-off zones near the station platform is important.
     Station waiting areas should be large enough to accommodate
     the expected crowds, but not be overly spacious.

     Best Practice 3: Design stations to be accessible
     and identifiable to all transit riders irrespective of                    Bus stops in proximity to light rail stations and with short,
     their language, age, or ability.                                         direct pedestrian crossings make transit and pedestrian
17                                                                            connections safe and convenient. (Source: City of
     Stations should be designed to accommodate a wide range of               Bellevue)
                                                                                          LIGHT RAIL BEST PRACTICES
     user needs. Connections to the stations should incorporate

     Vancouver Working Group                                                                                                             17
                      BEST PRACTICES for LIGHT RAIL DESIGN
                       Connections to Stations

                                                            the principles of universal design. Universal design is generally
                                                            defined as design that accommodates the widest range of
                                                            potential users, including people with mobility and visual
                                                            impairments and other special needs, such as people with
                                                            bicycles, baby strollers, and handcarts. Street crossings should
                                                            be safe and easy to cross. Wayfinding signage should use
                                                            universal icons to communicate key features and destinations.

                                                            People access light rail using multiple modes of transportation.
                                                            Good connections to light rail are essential to ridership. A
                                                            quality light rail system must integrate pedestrian and bicycle
Bike parking at stations should be protected from poor      facilities, transit, drop-off areas, and parking. All transit riders
weather and in plain view to prevent theft; note the        start their journey as pedestrians. Therefore, providing a high
glass enclosure above. (Source: David Evans and             quality pedestrian environment is important. Bicycle amenities
                                                            should include areas around the stations, as well as clear routes
                                                            to the station within a two-mile radius. Quality bus connections
                                                            are also necessary, since buses extend the light rail’s reach into
                                                            neighborhoods that it does not serve directly. Park-and-ride lots
                                                            can provide a convenient connection for large numbers of riders.
                                                            In addition, drop-off, taxi, and shuttle zones can further extend

Pedestrian safety gates at Beaverton Transit Center, a
busy station serving buses and light rail. (Source: David
Evans and Associates)

Bike lanes help create comfortable connections to light
rail stations for bicyclists. (Source: David Evans and

18                                                                                                  Vancouver Working Group
           Station Security

     Station Security
     Station security is an important issue in the development of
     new transit facilities. Users need to feel safe on the system,
     and neighbors need to be assured that the stations will not be a
     source of crime or disruption.

     Why It Matters
     A common concern among communities is that light rail will
     bring crime from the urban core to suburban communities or
     generate new crime. However, studies of cities with light rail
     systems show that crime rates near stations are closely related
     to the surrounding area. Communities that had criminal activity
     before light rail continued to have it, while communities that were
     relatively crime-free continued to be after adding light rail. Crime
                                                                               The upkeep, good maintenance, and cleanliness of the
     activity may increase proportionally with the number of new               station and the area surrounding it are of vital importance
     people and development activity if light rail spurs growth. The           for the safety of transit passengers. (Source: David Evans
     vast majority of crimes near light rail are nuisance or quality of life   and Associates)
     crimes, such as panhandling and vandalism.
     A proactive approach to security in and around light rail systems
     can deter criminal activity. Effective practices include establishing
     a fare paid zone, employing a regular presence of uniformed
     transit and law enforcement personnel, and incorporating
     technology (e.g., closed circuit television cameras) and specific
     design techniques at stations. These practices are most effective
     when incorporated in the design of new stations, adjacent park-
     and-rides, and bus transfer facilities from the start. Whether
     crime is an actual or perceived problem, it is a real issue to riders
     and potential riders that must be addressed with a proactive

     Best Practice 1: Employ design techniques that
     deter crime.                                                              A light, bright station with clear sight lines, like this one in
                                                                               Denver, provides a more secure environment for patrons,
     Station security and crime reduction can be significantly affected
                                                                               even at night. (Source: David Evans and Associates)
     by the design of the station platform, adjacent facilities, and
     pedestrian connections. Minimizing isolation by locating stations
     in low crime areas or in proximity to activity centers, integrating
     the station with the neighborhood and surrounding environment,
     and providing connections to safe areas can reduce the
     occurrence of crime.
     Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED),
     which focuses on preserving visibility of all areas, controlling
     access, and lighting station areas and connecting sidewalks, has                      LIGHT RAIL BEST PRACTICES

     Vancouver Working Group                                                                                                                 19
                      BEST PRACTICES for LIGHT RAIL DESIGN
                      Station Security

                                                           been proven effective. Stations should be visible from adjacent
                                                           streets, and easily accessible to law enforcement personnel. The
                                                           design of the station and surroundings should provide good sight
                                                           lines and avoid creating conditions that will obscure the presence
                                                           of individuals.

                                                           Best Practice 2: Foster a sense of ownership by
                                                           users and neighbors of stations.
                                                           A well-designed station with high quality finishes, public art, and
                                                           frequent maintenance practices can be a community asset and
                                                           encourage people who use the station and live nearby to report
                                                           inappropriate activity and maintenance problems. Enlisting the
                                                           participation of citizens in the location and design of stations will
                                                           enhance the community’s sense of ownership of the station.
 Alum Rock single-family neighborhood in San Jose.
 Landscaping, art, and quality finishes along the line
 and at stations improve the appearance and “fit” of the
                                                           Best Practice 3: Establish a fare paid zone at
 system. (Source: City of Bellevue)
                                                           stations and program an active presence of transit
                                                           and law enforcement personnel on the train and
                                                           on platforms.
                                                           The fare paid zone requires that people at the station be in the
                                                           process of purchasing or already possess a valid ticket to ride the
                                                           train or they will face removal. Enforcement of this provision with
                                                           regular and frequent presence of personnel discourages loitering
                                                           and vandalism at stations, increases the level of surveillance
                                                           and security, and helps reduce fare evasion. A joint commitment
                                                           to law enforcement from both the transit agency and the City is

                                                           Best Practice 4: Employ effective technologies to
                                                           protect the safety of station users and neighbors.
                                                           Video surveillance and information technology at stations and on
                                                           trains and buses is becoming standard practice. Case studies
                                                           have shown that by planning for technology early in the design
                                                           process, the equipment can be better integrated with the station
                                                           to be less obtrusive without diminishing its effectiveness. This
                                                           technology should include real-time train arrival information that
                                                           lets riders know when the next train will arrive, as well as phones
                                                           at each station that connect directly to security or emergency
In San Diego, the station platforms are fare paid zones,
allowing MTS to control loitering and activity on the      Since technology is constantly evolving, a best practice is to track
station platforms. (Source: David Evans and Associates)    new and effective practices and technologies and incorporate
                                                           them into the system as appropriate.

20                                                                                                  Vancouver Working Group
           Station Security

     Best Practice 5: Develop park-and-ride lots that
     feel secure.
     The security of park-and-ride lots and the access to them from
     stations is critical to ensuring a safe environment. Smaller, well-lit
     lots integrated into the surrounding community tend to be safer
     than large vacant lots. Increased patrols, possibly paid for from
     parking charges, or the presence of vendors (coffee stands,
     sundries) could enhance the security of the lot.

     A range of techniques and strategies, including design and
     community involvement, can be used to improve station security.

                                                                              The presence of law enforcement or security personnel
                                                                              discourages loitering and vandalism at stations, increases
                                                                              the level of surveillance and security, and helps reduce
                                                                              fare evasion. (Source: David Evans and Associates)

                                                                              The open design of this elevated station in San Jose
                                                                              maximizes visibility while employing urban design
                                                                              techniques to minimize the bulk of the structure.
                                                                              Pedestrian infrastructure connects the station to the
                                                                              adjacent neighborhood, transit center, and shopping
                                                                              center. (Source: David Evans and Associates)

                                                                                         LIGHT RAIL BEST PRACTICES

     Vancouver Working Group                                                                                                          21
                      BEST PRACTICES for LIGHT RAIL DESIGN
                      Construction Impacts and Mitigation

                                                            Construction Impacts and
                                                            The construction of a light rail system will have temporary
                                                            negative effects on the citizens and businesses of Vancouver
                                                            and Portland. Mitigation needs to be a collaborative process
                                                            between an agency, the City, surrounding neighborhoods, and
                                                            the business community. Mitigation for construction impacts
                                                            can include financial, marketing, management, information,
                                                            and communication support. The strategies used to mitigate a
                                                            construction impact depend on the situation and what is most
                                                            practical for a given area.

Providing access for pedestrians and businesses during      Why It Matters
Mall Extension light rail construction helps reduce the
negative impacts, Portland, OR. (Source: David Evans        Construction of light rail lines can cause disruption to residents
and Associates)                                             and business owners. Residents are often concerned about
                                                            noise, dust, vibration, neighborhood and property access, and
                                                            increased traffic and parking in the neighborhood. Business
                                                            owners are often concerned about the same issues, but with
                                                            more emphasis on visibility and access. Transit agencies and
                                                            their contractors use a variety of practices to reduce those
                                                            Construction of a light rail line and stations in a dense urban
                                                            environment is a complex undertaking. The size and complexity
                                                            of construction means that while certain impacts are unavoidable,
                                                            thoughtful planning and design can minimize the scope
                                                            and intensity of many impacts. Knowing which impacts are
                                                            unavoidable, or where more than one approach to mitigation is
                                                            possible, can allow the community to make informed choices
                                                            about trade-offs.
                                                            Project mitigation will vary depending on the environment and the
                                                            characteristics of the impact, and best practices must be applied
                                                            appropriately. For example, a key noise mitigation technique
Staggered construction in downtown Portland reduced
                                                            is to have the most noise-intensive construction work occur
the duration of construction in front of any one group of
businesses. (Source: City of Bellevue)                      when people are generally away from the area. Neighborhoods
                                                            can usually accept more noise during the day but require
                                                            quiet at night. Downtown environments typically require more
                                                            quiet during the day, but can often accept more noise at night.
                                                            However, as the residential population in downtown Vancouver
                                                            continues to grow, restricting construction noise to day time
                                                            hours will not be so simple. In Seattle, Sound Transit conducted
                                                            24-hour construction in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, allowing
                                                            Sound Transit to decrease the duration of construction. Noise
                                                            was mitigated using temporary sound walls containing noise-

22                                                                                                  Vancouver Working Group
         Construction Impacts and Mitigation

   absorbing materials and innovative approaches, such as having
   trucks use flashers at night when moving in reverse, rather than
   standard beeping alerts.

   Best Practice 1: Engage the business community
   before, during, and after construction.
   Proactive public involvement practices before, during, and after
   construction can take many forms. Community engagement
   should be broad and include positive project messages,
   advertising, business impact mitigation (such as storefront
   maintenance), grant opportunities, low-interest loans, and other
   creative solutions.
   Providing support during construction periods is important. During
   construction of an extension to its existing light rail system,
   Portland’s TriMet included four dedicated community relations
   staff who were available for one-on-one contact with businesses,
   provided regular information updates, and responded to
   complaints. TriMet also established a construction hotline, with
   community relations staff and construction staff accessible on
   a 24-hour basis. Business association support was provided           On Beacon Hill, Sound Transit installed noise-absorbing
   through office space and financial assistance to print and mail a      materials on walls surrounding a construction staging
                                                                        area to reduce impacts on the surrounding community.
   monthly newsletter.
                                                                        (Source: Sound Transit)

   Best Practice 2: Develop a Construction
   Management Plan.
   A formal construction plan is one of the most important tools
   an agency has for managing construction impacts. The plan,
   which must be a collaborative effort between the transportation,
   transit, and local agencies, should address all construction-
   related issues, including but not limited to access, parking,
   noise, vibration, working hours, and phasing. It should list the
   people responsible for oversight and provide accountability for
   results. Financial incentives for meeting plan standards should
   be incorporated into C-TRAN and TriMet’s agreement with the
   contractor. The plan should include a program for engaging both
   businesses and residents throughout the construction phase.

   Best Practice 3: Plan for and address the impacts
                                                                        Effective community and business involvement efforts
   of construction by supporting businesses during                      provide information and engage the public in the planning
   the construction phase.                                              and design of the system. (Source: City of Bellevue)
   Major impacts can be avoided or minimized with adequate
23 planning, but where unavoidable, they must be mitigated during
   the construction period. Alternative access should have good                    LIGHT RAIL BEST PRACTICES

   Vancouver Working Group                                                                                                     23
                      BEST PRACTICES for LIGHT RAIL DESIGN
                      Construction Impacts and Mitigation

                                                           signage and meet the needs of the business or residence.
                                                           Mitigation techniques such as sound walls need to be built
                                                           before the impact occurs. Impacts and mitigation should be
                                                           continuously monitored during construction, and adjustments
                                                           made quickly, if needed.
                                                           Agencies can provide other significant support to businesses
                                                           during the construction phase. Some agencies have provided
                                                           financial support in various forms, such as low- or no-interest
                                                           loans, grants, financial advice, marketing assistance, and active
                                                           marketing for construction areas. Visual and physical access to
                                                           businesses for pedestrians, automobiles, and delivery vehicles is
                                                           a critical concern.
                                                           In Salt Lake City, rail developers supported businesses by
To reduce traffic and noise impacts to businesses, a        keeping two lanes in each direction on University Drive open
significant amount of demolition and major reconstruction   during construction. Access was provided to businesses at all
work for the T-REX project occurred at night. (Source:     times, with a significant portion of work taking place at night.
T-REX Project).                                            The city developed construction criteria for signage, public
                                                           information, and citizen advisory committees in an attempt
                                                           to clearly communicate construction impacts, schedule, road
                                                           detours, and access points.1

                                                           Best Practice 4: Develop a broad public
                                                           engagement program and provide regular
                                                           communications to the public about construction
                                                           project activities and impacts.
                                                           The agency should hold regular meetings with affected residents
                                                           and businesses before and during construction and provide
                                                           advance notification of changes to plans. The agency should
                                                           utilize a variety of techniques to engage the public.
                                                           The agency should solicit the input of residents, utilizing their
                                                           knowledge of the local area, to develop construction approaches
                                                           that minimize impacts. Where impacts cannot be avoided, the
                                                           agency should work with the community to develop mitigation
A meaningful public involvement process increases the
community’s comfort with a project. (Source: City of       techniques that respond to the community’s concerns.

                                                           Cooperation between the transit agency and local businesses
                                                           is critical in ensuring that construction-related impacts can be
                                                           minimized or mitigated during the development of light rail.
                                                           Soliciting early participation in developing construction plans
                                                           and providing for communication throughout the project can help
                                                           make the project proceed as smoothly as possible.

                                                           1           Light rail Construction: Mitigation of Business Interruption; a survey of methods
                                                           used in six cities during recent projects. Houston Tomorrow: Independent research for
                                                           Houston’s future. Gulf Coast Institute. July 21, 2006.

24                                                                                                                 Vancouver Working Group