A Transit Planning Engagement Roadmap

A Transit Planning Engagement Roadmap

Four Steps to Plan, Implement, and Support Mobility Options

Public engagement during transit planning is essential for creating sustainable and equitable mobility options. As communities grow and evolve, so do the needs and expectations of their residents. For transit agencies, a community-centric approach means that transit plans are not only efficient but also inclusive and reflective of the diverse needs within a community. The following roadmap includes insights boiled down from the many conversations we have had with transit agencies from around the country. This guide outlines the four key steps of planning, implementing, and supporting community-focused mobility options.

1. Engage Equitably

Public engagement is the cornerstone of effective transit planning. To ensure all voices are represented in recommendations, it’s important for transit agencies to implement a standard approach that bridges both online and in-person formats. This dual approach maximizes participation opportunities and caters to the expressed preferences and circumstances documented in our annual resident engagement surveys.

Action Points:

    • Diversify your engagement channels: Utilize websites, physical signage, email and text messaging, and community based organizations to reach a broader audience.
    • Accessibility: Provide accessible digital and print materials (including email) in English as well as translated languages to meet diverse community needs.
    • Feedback Mechanisms: Provide easy-to-use tools for feedback, such as online surveys, QR codes, interactive maps, and voicemail hotlines to gather insights from a wide range of stakeholders.

By engaging equitably, transit agencies gain valuable data from often overlooked community members, which is critical to building a transit system that reflects the true needs of the community.

2. Understand Who You’re Reaching

Knowing your audience adds context to your data. Track and visualize participation geographically to ensure engagement efforts reach project impact areas. Mapping participant locations and identifying representation gaps should be a recurring process before, during, and after engagement.

Action Points:

    • Equity Mapping: Use geographic information systems (GIS) to visualize areas of high and low participation compared to environmental justice datasets like the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CJEST).
    • Demographic Analysis: Collect and track participants’ demographic information to filter and understand sentiments based on lived experiences and socio-economic backgrounds.

Understanding your reach ensures that your transit plans are inclusive and accurately reflect the community’s unique needs.

3. Deliver Plans Based in Data

Data-driven decision-making is the foundation of equitable transit planning. It’s widely acknowledged that the planning process is too easily influenced by vocal minorities that may not represent the broader community. By aggregating feedback through dynamic reporting and AI-assisted analysis tools, planners can sift through large volumes of data efficiently, extracting valuable insights that might otherwise be overlooked.

Action Points:

By implementing a central system of record to bridge online and in-person initiatives and analyze complex datasets, transit planners gain the information needed to confidently deliver recommendations aligned with community needs.

4. Focus on Building Relationships

A strong relationship between transit providers and the community is built on mutual trust fostered by a commitment to communication and transparency.  As ridership continues to return but funding sources remain uncertain, conversations about service changes, fare policies, and more are front of mind for executives and passengers alike. Knowing how to communicate with riders efficiently and consistently helps maintain and grow these relationships over time.

Action Points:

Community-centric transit planning hinges on equitable engagement efforts, a comprehensive understanding of your audience, decisions that can be defended with data, and strong relationships throughout the community. Transit agencies must invest in inclusive, efficient approaches that build trust to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving mobility landscape. By simplifying your efforts into these four key steps, planners can incorporate scalable procedures and technologies that increase efficiency and create more equitable outcomes for their communities.

For more information on how you can use PublicInput to plan, implement, and support your mobility options, request a demo with our team.

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Engage using standard survey question formats that you’re used to with consumer survey tools. From the single and multi-select, to Likert, slider, and text input formats, you’ve got the basics covered.

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