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A project to develop New Zealand Public Transport Design Guidelines is underway at the NZ Transport Agency.

The Guidelines are being developed by the Transport Agency collaboratively with an industry Reference Group which includes members from a representative body of public transport operators and a range of councils (regional, local, Auckland Transport). These members are from all over New Zealand, reflecting a range of contexts and perspectives.

The NZ Public Transport Design Guidelines are intended to support regional and local councils in delivering high-quality, user-centric public transport by providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ of best-practice guidance, specifically suited to New Zealand’s regulatory and operating environment. Wherever possible tiered guidance will be used to offer appropriate solutions.

The design principles of the Guidelines are to be: accessible, safe, affordable, operationally efficient, support mode shift and positive urban design. The Guidelines’ objectives are:

  1. To be useful. To assist in planning and delivery of high-quality, efficient, well-integrated, future-proofed public transport.
  2. To enable national consistency for public transport, which could lead to an improved customer level of service and reduced costs through bulk purchasing across regions (installation and maintenance).
  3. To be fit for purpose, consistent with legislation and integrated with other relevant design guidance (e.g. NZ Transport Agency Cycling Network Guidance, Pedestrian Network Guidance, Bridging the Gap, Requirements for Urban Buses) and put all this into a user-friendly, yet updatable format.
  4. To not re-invent the wheel. Building on local best-practice design guidelines (e.g. Auckland Transport, Christchurch City Council) and be further informed by international best practice (Transport for London, NACTO/National Association of City Transportation Officials, etc).

Public Transport Design Guidelines scope

The first phase of guideline development is focused on infrastructure development.  Topics prioritised by Reference Group members for inclusion are described in the table below. Note that the scope of each topic will be refined during topic development and the ‘possible elements to include’ identified below are only indicative at this stage.

Other potential topics (e.g. network planning, maintenance and asset management, management and operational elements, etc) are currently considered outside scope for this project. While some of these topics are covered, to some degree, by other projects (e.g. the Requirement for Urban Buses), others may be appropriate to consider in a subsequent project phase once the highest priority topics are completed.

Topics and the elements that may be included

  • Bus stops (note: including cycle lane/bus stop sub-topic as immediate priority)
    • Design general: legal requirements, bus stop area and layout dimensions, signs, sightlines, drainage
    • Categories/hierarchy and associated level of service requirements/expectations for the facilities provided at the bus stop
    • Pedestrian facilities to bus stops: footpaths, crossings, provision expectation, integration with the bus stop design, parking reallocation
    • Intermodal integration: interaction with footpaths, cycleways, provision of cycle parking at bus stops, shared-paths, parking
    • Different loading requirements for standard buses, double-deckers, and/or articulated
    • Accessibility features: accessible kerb vs standard kerb profiles, tactile pavers, consistency in the layout of bus stop facilities
    • Shelters and seating facilities: design and location principles (costs vs usage, criteria to guide thresholds)
    • Smart shelters: integration of wayfinding, digital advertising, CCTV, wifi
    • Safety & security: CPTED principles, lighting at the bus stop
    • Information provision: schedules, maps, wayfinding, real time information
    • Environmental impacts (sensitive frontages, driveways)
    • Addressing parking conflicts and parking reallocation.
    • Operational requirements: sightlines, vertical and horizontal clearances, timing points, driver swap-over.
    • Out of lane vs in-lane bus stops: network operating impacts/benefits, impact to footpath waiting space (e.g. narrow vs wide footpaths, room for supporting facilities)
    • Bus stop placement considerations: Guidance on stop spacing, balancing walking catchments with network speed, timing points, competing demands for road space, community concerns, bus stop balancing
    • Statutory implementation guidance.
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  • Corridor clearance
    • Camber
    • Important horizontally and vertically
    • Growing issue with double-deckers – need clearance standards
    • Existing Issues and how to address them
    • Affects ability of buses to pull into stops
    • Signage
    • Pedestrian movement space requirements
    • Ongoing maintenance requirements and corridor checks.
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  • Public transport priority
    • Principles of transport mode hierarchy and movement and place and links to more comprehensive frameworks
    • Guiding principles for public transport priority and transitioning into priority
    • Implementation criteria (thresholds), trade-offs and productivity assessments of different priority options.
    • Bus-only lanes, bus lanes, and transit lanes – definitions, guidance on which to use where and pros and cons of each
    • Consideration of other network optimisation measures such as HOV (T2/T3) lanes, clearways and tidal flow options.
    • Bus Rapid Transit (MRT) Corridors
    • Light Rail Transit (LRT) Corridors
    • Bus priority hours of operation
    • Lane configurations
    • Integration of carriageway options with cycling facilities, and other modes
    • Traffic calming and 30 km/h zones (design of speed humps, raised tables, road narrowing, paving) versus convenience/speed of bus passengers
    • Transit signal priority and signal pre-emption
    • Road safety issues
    • Enforcement.
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  • Bus layover and driver facilities
    • Bus stop layover (placement) factors to consider:
      • Safety and security
      • Social, environmental and economic impacts
      • Network design impacts
      • Opportunistic electric charging
    • Bus stop layover (design elements):
      • Key design elements and how they differ from a standard bus stop
      • Guidance – independent vs dependent bus stops based on space constraints
    • Driver facilities:
      • In accordance with new legislation
      • Facilities at stops to cater for breaks and what facilities are required based on geometric constraints, land use and integration with public facilities
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  • Public transport interchanges
    • Full ‘mobility hub’ concepts – beyond Park & Ride:
    • Demand analysis
    • Layout including stops, waiting facilities, shelters, benches, platform types
    • Information and wayfinding
    • Fare/payment facilities
    • Passenger queue management
    • Accessibility (tactiles etc.)
    • Journey to the stop
    • Cycling facilities
    • Emerging modes
    • Landscaping
    • Consistent placement/continuity of facilities
    • Safety and security aspects, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, consider vulnerable users
    • Hierarchy requirements for different scales
    • Interchange guidance across different PT modes (rail-bus, bus-LRT, bus-bus, etc.)
    • Driver facilities
    • Principles of transit-oriented development and densification and integration with land use
    • Specific route assignment for bus bays/train platforms/ferry docks to assist customers vs more space efficiency
    • Asset management.
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  • Inclusive access: the first/last mile
    • Integrating walking/cycling facilities, bikeshare, scooters, other modes
    • Minimum requirements (e.g. “a footpath is required”)
    • Taxis/Transportation Network Companies (e.g. uber)
    • Issue of e-scooters/bike share being ‘parked’ in bus shelters/on footpaths impeding access
    • Universal design
    • Opportunity to integrate cycle/scooter parking at bus stops
    • Criteria to guide which stops to target (e.g. certain cycling/PT LOS trigger need for cycling facilities – hierarchy structure)
    • Pedestrian crossing facilities to bus stops/interchanges – trade-offs with convenience, parking losses and bus stop placement
    • Carpool, Vanpools
    • Signage and wayfinding.
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Project timing

It is expected that the Guidelines for most of the six topics identified above will be delivered throughout 2019 and 2020.

Process for design, review and ratification

Each topic will begin with a scoping stage, which will include some stakeholder engagement. This will be followed by the development of draft guidelines which will be followed by peer review and then further review by a range of stakeholders. Once a topic is ratified, there may be ongoing updates which may require some level of consultation or re-ratification. Note that where some existing guidelines (e.g. Auckland Transport’s) are already deemed fit for purpose for a topic, these may be accepted, though some consultation and ratification processes will still be required.

Questions and answers

  • Will the guidelines be mandatory and, if so, how will this be enforced?

    The NZ Transport Agency, as the leader of the project and major co-funder of public transport across New Zealand will expect the guidelines to be followed unless a strong reason for deviation is provided. Failure to do so may have implications for obtaining co-funding. However, we are only at the project stage, adoption will take time, so formally regulating and enforcing adoption is a long way off.

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  • What kind of consultation and engagement will be undertaken as part of this project?

    Prior to the topic scoping phase noted above, we will be contacting people and organisations who are likely to be interested in the project. We'll let them know about the project and ask if they would like to be contacted at subsequent project stages, and ask for any preliminary feedback about the priority topics.

    Further stakeholder engagement will be undertaken at the topic scoping phase and following the development of draft guidelines. Collaboration with the Public Transport Reference Group will take place in each of these phases to ensure local government and public transport operators can ensure the guidelines meet their needs in delivering public transport to New Zealanders. Presentation of draft guidelines to other, select targeted groups such as the Local Government New Zealand Transport Special Interest Group and the Road Controlling Authorities Forum will also be undertaken.

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