1.2.1 Layout, Spacing and Design of Arterials and Collectors
The layout and spacing of arterial and collector streets should seek to establish a fine-grained, interconnected network capable of accommodating the efficient provision of transit and enhancing connections for transit users.
In Ontario, arterial roads are typically laid out following the historic 1¼-mile (2 km) concession road grid. Collector roads within the grid of arterials provide a second layer of road network. As the principal locations of transit service in many communities, the layout, spacing and design of arterials and collectors have a major influence on the ability of a community to support transit and the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall transportation network. When arterial and collector networks are spaced too far apart and designed as indirect automobile-oriented corridors with limited connections, it affects the efficiency and accessibility of transit networks and can decrease transit ridership.
Ensuring that arterials and collectors are designed to provide direct routes between areas is important to enable efficient, direct transit service. Between arterials, the introduction of a finer-grained network of collector streets capable of accommodating transit will help to minimize walking distances from transit facilities to area destinations.
Note that the role and function of provincial highways differs from that of municipal roads. Therefore, references to suggested intersection spacing within this guideline are for municipal urban roads. Intersection spacing requirements are greater on provincial highways in order to maintain higher operating speeds and a higher level of mobility for through traffic movement. Please contact the Ministry of Transportation regarding its intersection spacing requirements on provincial highways.
If collectors are placed 600m apart and local bus stops are provided every 200m, it is possible for nearly all residents to be within a 5-minute walk (400m) of a transit stop. Access routes to transit stops from the interior blocks may follow pedestrian pathways or local roads, as appropriate. See Guideline 2.1.1 for further considerations related to design and maintenance of pedestrian walkways.
Applicable Community Scale
- Arterial and collector road networks should be planned on a municipal scale to ensure that adjacent developments, people and jobs are effectively linked with direct, transit-compatible roads.
- The classification of arterials and collectors should include transit types, with unique right-of-way standards to facilitate rapid or conventional transit routes, walking and cycling.
Layout of road networks should be coordinated between subdivisions and neighbourhoods to eliminate backtracking or jogs and provide as direct a route as possible for transit vehicles.
- The layout of arterials and collectors should provide as direct a route as possible in order to minimize trip lengths and travel times and avoid backtracking. Layout of road networks should be coordinated between subdivisions and neighbourhoods to eliminate unnecessary jogs or breaks in the network.
- The layout of arterials and collectors should attempt to maximize connections by establishing a fine grain of streets and blocks capable of dispersing traffic and reducing traffic volumes on primary streets.
- Transit routes, as well as the arterials and collectors that carry them, should be spaced to avoid duplication between routes while providing full coverage.
- The spacing of arterials and collectors should support a maximum 400 metre (5-minute) walk from the interior of a block to a local bus stop. For example, assuming that bus stops are spaced 200m apart along a set of parallel collectors, the collectors should be no more than 600m apart to satisfy this maximum walking distance.
- Space collectors at intervals of 400 m or less in designated nodes and corridors in order to facilitate higher levels of walking and cycling.
- Access routes to transit stops, such as pedestrian pathways or local roads, should be spaced no greater than 200m apart in order to minimize walking distances to local transit stops. Spacing of less than 200m is desirable to enhance connectivity.
- The design of arterials and collectors should consider and balance a range of factors including the existing and planned land use and urban form, the movement of goods and the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, transit vehicles and private automobile users. The relative priority of each of these modes will vary depending on the local context. Guidelines for supporting a range of mobility options can be found in Section 2.2.
1.2.2 Transit Network Design and Planning
Planning for an effective transit network at a regional scale should be coordinated alongside existing and planned land use patterns. A balance needs to be struck in accommodating movement between established destinations and fostering desired transportation patterns related to planned or emerging corridors, nodes and new communities.
Transit network design and planning is about effectively linking people to destinations. The design and planning of the transit network on a regional scale will vary depending on the characteristics of the area. Winding, discontinuous road networks and dispersed land use patterns that inhibit the efficiency of the system can make planning transit networks challenging. While it may not always be possible to provide direct routes, people are more likely to use transit if the network is easy to understand and provides direct, quick access from where they are to where they want to go.
In some communities, many destinations may be concentrated in one or a few locations such as a downtown, which results in routes operating in a radial pattern, effectively serving many people. Other communities may have a number of centres of activity or people moving cross-town to and from various points. In this circumstance, routing may be organized in a grid pattern. Planning of transit systems at the regional scale needs to be grounded in a strong understanding of existing and planned patterns of mobility and land use.
Transit routes should provide direct links between nodes and seek to harmonize patterns of land use and mobility so that areas with a higher intensity of uses receive higher levels of transit service.
- Assess existing and proposed land use patterns and plan transit systems to harmonize those patterns with the provision of service so that areas with a higher intensity and mix of uses, such as nodes and corridors, receive higher levels of transit service and are made accessible to other areas within the region or municipality.
- A comprehensive transit network should develop a family of services that cater to different patterns of land use and commuting needs. This could include a range of route configurations, different levels of service between routes, variations in transit mode and vehicular sizes.
- Coordinate the location of transit routes and activity nodes between municipal and regional planning agencies and transit service providers to ensure that land use patterns and levels of transit service are supportive of each other.
- In larger urban areas, provide direct transit routes between different nodes in order to balance the number of riders travelling in each direction and expand the range of activities accessible along a transit route.
- Transit network design and planning should include provision of transit to new subdivisions (Guideline 1.2.4) early in their development to promote transit use and provide an alternative to the automobile.
- Plan regional-scale transit networks with a frequency of stations or stops that is appropriate to the context. For example, within nodes or corridors, stops should be more frequent than in lower-density contexts.
- The design of transit networks should take advantage of available rights-of-way such as rail or utility corridors (Guideline 2.6.6), but also consider whether these rights-of-way provide effective alignments to connect people to destinations.
- To maximize access and convenience for transit riders, transit routes should penetrate into the interior of the areas they are serving. Transfer points between transit routes should be concentrated near the centre of nodes. Rapid transit or commuter rail stations should also be located near the centre of nodes and be designed to facilitate intensification over time (Guideline 2.4.3).
Transit agencies have a range of route types (Guideline 3.1.1) which they can consider when tailoring a transit network to meet the needs of their communities.
Examples of route types include:
- Direct line-haul routes, which can be used in areas of high demand, such as along arterials or corridors. These should be as direct as possible and should be less than 60 minutes in one-way travel leading into downtown or a major activity centre.
- Circulators, which follow circuitous routes but can provide maximum coverage over a wide area, reducing demand for specialized transit. Generally, circulator routes should be short so that total one-way travel is less than 30 minutes. They can provide connections to regional transit services and be used to capture unique uses or destinations outside of higher-frequency service areas.
- Feeder routes, which can help to supplement higher order transit corridors by connecting people to the corridor from dispersed places of origin.
- Express routes, which can serve suburban residential areas where there are sufficient riders travelling to central business districts or large employment centres. Form of line-haul route with limited number of stops at major activity centres that can provide high-speed travel attracting regular ridership.
Radial Transit Networks are most efficient where there is a concentration of activity in one node such as a downtown.
Cross-town Routes can be added as communities grow to enable efficient cross-town service and better serve emerging nodes.
Grid Transit Networks are effective in larger municipalities where there is a multi-nodal land use pattern.
Feeder Routes can be used to support higher order transit corridors and provide transit service to lower-density dispersed areas within the municipality.
- Align and design transit routes to minimize the number of transfers required and facilitate transfers between systems.
- Periodically review transit networks to assess their efficiency and effectiveness at serving transit users as well as their ability to serve and influence changing patterns of land use. Further information on planning performance and monitoring can be found in Section 3.2 of this document.
York Region Transit Family of Services
York Region Transit has implemented a family of services to meet a range of community and travel needs in the region. It includes bus rapid transit with frequent and limited stops using distinct vehicles, off-board payment and queue jumps that are integrated with local transit on its busiest corridor. Base services (7 days per week service) are provided on all major east-west and north-south arterials forming a grid network. Local routes serve as feeder or neighbourhood circulation that supports the base grid. Service is further supplemented by express routes that carry passengers between two distinct points such as the subway and a major employer. Shuttles provide local service to GO stations. Accessible dial-a-ride community buses serve seniors and people with disabilities who can use fully accessible conventional transit.
Transit Service Guidelines (York Region Transit)
Guidelines for Enhancing Suburban Mobility Using Public Transportation (Transportation Research Board)
Public transport network planning: a guide to best practice in New Zealand cities (Transportation Research Board)
Best Practices in Transit Service Planning (Florida Department of Transportation)
- Where multiple routes converge at a specific point within the system they should be designated as transit hubs and planned to facilitate a greater number of transfers between systems. This can be accomplished in a number of ways including through the design of the station areas (Guideline 2.3.5), coordination of scheduling (Guideline 3.1.2) and techniques to enhance trip planning and navigation (Section 3.3).
- Coordinate planning for transit hubs alongside planning for nodes to ensure that hubs are located at concentrations of transit-supportive uses and density. This will help to connect riders to a wider range of uses and support increased transit ridership.
- Locate transit hubs at points where they can connect dispersed concentrations of population, employment and activities, while taking into consideration other concerns such as vulnerability to natural hazards and accessibility at times of emergency (Guideline 2.6.1).
- Radial transit network design should be considered for communities or regions where activity is concentrated in one major node, such as a downtown. In a radial network, most transit routes converge on the downtown core.
- As communities with radial transit networks grow, a supporting network of cross-town routes should be considered to facilitate non-downtown transit trips.
- Grid transit network design should be considered for communities or regions where there is a dispersal of activity or a multi-nodal land use pattern. This grid network in many cases will be oriented on arterial and collector road networks (Guideline 1.2.1).
1.2.3 Regional Mobility Corridors
Regional mobility corridors should be identified and coordinated between jurisdictions in order to facilitate a greater range of transportation choices between regions and throughout the province.
Identifying a network of regional mobility corridors, routes used to connect regions across a range of modes, enables planners to optimize the movement of people and goods between regional destinations. When regional mobility is not planned for, alternative options for moving between settlement areas and regions can be overlooked and in many cases can restrict regional travel to the automobile. This reduces the potential of transit, restricting its use to primarily local destinations.
Planning for regional mobility corridors also enables planners to evaluate how easily transfers can be made between local transit networks and can highlight gaps and deficiencies that may need to be addressed at both a regional and local level. The intent is to enable people to travel between regional destinations using a full range of transportation options including walking, cycling, municipal and regional transit and private automobiles. Coordination is important to ensure that corridors are aligned between jurisdictions and that municipal or local transportation strategies are oriented to support the function of regional transportation systems and the movement of people and goods between, as well as within, local jurisdictions.
A regional mobility corridor can be established to coordinate parallel movement systems between regions and municipalities, enabling planners to optimize the movement of people and goods between regional destinations across a range of modes.
- Coordinate planning for regional mobility corridors between regional jurisdictions and municipalities in order to facilitate the creation of a seamless regional mobility network. In some cases planning for a regional mobility corridor may also involve provincial, federal and/or private transportation facilities and services. It is important to consult with all parties in order to ensure appropriate coordination between modes and across jurisdictions.
- Plan regional mobility corridors to connect with key regional destinations in order to increase ridership and reduce the need for transfers between regional and municipal transit systems.
- Consider all modes of transportation in the planning and allocation of space within a corridor, including walking, cycling, transit and the private vehicle.
- Planning of regional mobility corridors should consider existing and planned surrounding land uses when identifying the function of the corridor and the appropriate allocation of space for various modes of transportation. For instance, if a specific regional mobility corridor serves a largely industrial area, goods movement will be a primary consideration. Alternatively, if there are multiple higher-density employment or residential nodes, the movement of people by transit and cycling connections within the corridor may take precedence.
- Integrate consideration of planned regional mobility corridors with municipal transit planning to ensure that local networks and strategies support larger regional transportation systems.
- Inter-urban transit systems should provide fast and direct travel between urban areas. Stations or stops outside of designated settlement areas should be minimized to discourage development at intermediate locations.
1.2.4 Creating and Expanding Transit Service Areas
The expansion of transit service should be coordinated alongside the planning and implementation of new developments to ensure that new areas are transit-supportive and provide residents and businesses with early access to transit service.
The expansion of transit service to new communities is an opportunity to increase ridership catchment and expand ridership levels over time. The early provision of transit services to new communities can help to establish more sustainable patterns of movement and help to reduce reliance on the automobile.
While expanding transit service areas can open up new opportunities for ridership, the decision to provide service to new communities and areas where ridership may be low must be weighed against the cost of providing transit service. Providing transit service in areas that are too costly to serve can negatively affect a system’s operating budget and draw resources away from more profitable routes. To minimize the cost of extending transit service areas, it is essential that new development be carefully phased so that it is adjacent to and designed to act as an extension of the existing built-up area. This will minimize the distance transit vehicles must travel and will enable the logical extension of existing transit routes.
The design of new subdivisions should be informed by the existing and proposed transit service. The layout and design of streets and open spaces as well as the density and mix of uses should help to support the expansion of existing transit service.
- Ensure new development is adjacent to and designed to act as an extension of the existing built-up area to minimize the costs of extending transit service.
- Plan new subdivisions with the provision of transit service as a primary consideration. This should help to inform the layout and design of streets and open spaces (Section 2.1) as well as the density and mix of uses (Guideline 1.1.7).
- Factor the costs of providing transit services to proposed developments into the evaluation process. Also consider a requirement for developers to fund transportation demand management initiatives. A policy to this effect may be adopted by municipal councils as part of the community’s official plan. Consider implementing a multi-modal transportation impact assessment process to assess transit costs and requirements related to new development (Chapter 4).
- In the design phase of new communities, designate roads that will serve as transit routes in order to assist in the structuring of higher-density developments and ensure that they are developed to support transit and transit users from the outset.
Ensuring that new development is adjacent to built-up areas will help to minimize the costs of expanding transit service.
- Build roads designated as transit routes in advance of other roads to enable bus service early in the development process. The front-end costs of achieving this may be justified by less need for subsequent expansion of road capacity, lower land development costs and the reduced energy consumption that results from lower levels of auto-dependency.
- Introduce transit service as early as possible during the development of new communities, for example at the early stage of occupancy, to encourage early uptake of expanded systems (Guideline 3.1.1). Factors to be considered in the early provision of transit service include the:
- planned densities and timing of new development within a 5- to 10-minute walk of the proposed service (Guideline 1.1.7). Where densities are lower than sustainable to provide transit service (Guideline 1.1.7), consider partnerships with developers to provide incentives for new riders.
- distance new routes will need to be extended to serve new areas and impacts this will have on existing service levels.
- costs of providing additional vehicles to maintain existing levels of service to existing routes.
- Smaller communities that may not have sufficient population to accommodate regular transit service should consider targeted partnerships, more flexible routes or demand-responsive transit services (Guideline 3.1.1).