TRBAM 2014

93rd Annual TRB Meeting

Washington, DC, January 12-16, 2014


Light Rail Transit Innovations and Urban Insertion

Co-sponsored by AP025, AP045, AP050, AP065, and ADD30

Sunday, January 12, 2014, 9am-noon

Washington Hilton, Georgetown West

This workshop is organized for regional and local policymakers to provide an overview of cutting edge techniques for inserting high ridership light rail transit (LRT) into public spaces in urban and suburban fabrics found in highly motorized cultures. The workshop is predicated on the premise that greater use of public transportation requires a wider application of enhanced performance transit modes (such as LRT and BRT) in public rights of way. The workshop’s intent is to develop a knowledge base where demonstrations of livability, safety, and green multimodal transportation outcomes are achieved through the use of these techniques. In the U.S. transit agencies recently opened several highly utilized light rail lines that were inserted into arterial road rights of way and university campuses contested by different user groups. Other such U.S. systems are in final design. The workshop will examine U.S. design solutions that reconcile the needs of different users in these difficult environments. It also will examine European design solutions for successfully inserting high usage light rail (with some individual lines carrying more than 100,000 passengers per day) into even more constrained public rights of way. The intent of the workshop is to open dialogue, possibly leading to further research into techniques for the wider-spread insertion of high performance transit in U.S. public spaces.

All approaches described in this workshop pertain to the development of light rail and bus design oriented to understanding operating practices that succeed in attracting high transit ridership in highly motorized cultures. These operating practices have resulted in a transformation of land uses toward pedestrian orientation, have maintained the life and vitality of surrounding neighborhoods and have increased mobility through the agglomeration of these outcomes. Such cultures characterized many US urban agglomerations during the pre-auto era but have largely fallen away since the 1920s; the U.S. complete streets approach is an effort to restore such cultures in the inner parts of urban agglomerations with limited success in changing travel behavior. Different types of insertion approaches now are being pioneered in the U.S. and in many western European urban agglomerations with better success. It has a similar objective to the complete streets approach but is more effective in getting people out of automobiles. Successful practices are emerging in several urban agglomerations, including a large number in France. It appears that urban beautification is part of successful strategies, as are transit mobility improvements achieved by enhanced light rail and bus systems. That is to say, in successful initiatives, improved livability is blended with improved transportability. One cannot succeed without the other.


Dr. Gregory L. Thompson

Summary of French Tramways

Dr. Gregory L. Thompson

US Approach

Successful, highly-utilized light rail lines recently opened in Salt Lake, Houston, and Phoenix; others are in final design in Baltimore and the Washington, D.C. areas. Rather than using railroad rights-of-way, these lines are set into reserved rights of way taken from arterial roads and university campuses. This presentation examines difficulties posed by the contested use of these spaces and design solutions that resolved the differences.

Integrating Light Rail into a Developed Urban Environment: Maryland Purple Line Example

Henry Kay

Insertion Approach

The Insertion Approach toward urban and suburban liveability – a successful marriage of liveable multiuse communities knit around beautiful high ridership light rail lines that depress auto use.

Insertion Approach in Spanish Cities

Dr. Margarita Novales

LRT in Tenerife-Spain

Andres Munoz

The French Approach to Inserting LRT into Town

Dominique Bertrand

The Design Center Approach

Light Rail Transit Innovations and Urban Insertion

Dr. Robbie Napper, Selby Coxon

The Design Center Approach: Design Thinking in Urban Transit Systems

Geoff Wardle


Light Rail: International and National Perspectives

LRT Urban Insertion and Safety: European Experiences

Margarita Novales, Manuel Paulo Teixeira, Laetitia Fontaine

Tram Safety Management - France Experience

Marine Blancheton, Laetitia Fontaine