28Multi-Modal Integration


I waited and waited on the platform, but the train never came and it seemed odd that no one else was waiting with me…Finally, I went and asked a porter and he indicated to me that I had to take a bus and, when pressed as to where I might find this bus, motioned vaguely with the back of his hand in the direction of the rest of the world.From “African Diary” by Bill Bryson, Anglo-American writer, 1951 –

The ideal BRT system is fully integrated within the larger circulation network, from airports and intercity rail, to public bikes and neighborhood walkways. Taken as a whole, this is referred to as multi-modal integration, also known as intermodal, implying the actual use of multiple modes as opposed to co-location of those modes. As BRT systems are usually being planned and implemented into existing urban frameworks and transportation systems, the onus is on BRT to integrate with those systems, especially at key nodes. In fast growing cities, where multiple systems are being planned and implemented at the same time, these systems will need to be coordinated in order to reduce redundancies and maximize the synergies between modes. At those key nodes and where those systems intersect and it makes sense to link systems and modes, a multimodal facility may be needed. These facilities, however, typically have a large footprint for the urban context, creating a design challenge.

Integration should be logical from a system-wide perspective. The goal of integration is 1) to improve access and coverage, while avoiding duplication of service, and 2) to make trips as short as possible, in both time and distance, while minimizing the number of transfers. The convenience of the transfer will impact the customer’s decision on whether to take a particular mode or trip. This convenience depends on two main things – the wait time for the next service and the physical connection, including level changes, walking distance, and ambiance of the transfer (such as protected from rain, climate controlled, etc.). Customers are willing to transfer if the frequency of the connecting service is high so the customer is guaranteed a short wait time, and if the transfer process is easy. Intermodal facility design is, thus, critical in successfully achieving integration.

Three main forms of integration include:

  1. Physical Integration
  2. Information Integration
  3. Fare Integration

The BRT Standard awards 15 points in total for access and integration, with points for integration with public transport, cycling, walking and universal access, and bike share. Ideally, this leads to operational integration which maximizes transfer possibilities and minimizes idle and wait times.

This chapter provides an overview of these three types of integration, with a focus on facility design. Chapter 25: Station Design provides details on station design that will not be reiterated here. The following chapters (Chapters 29: Pedestrian Access, 30: Universal Access, 31: Bicycle and Pedicab Integration, 32: Transportation Demand Management) provide more detail on those modes and will not be reiterated here.

From a customer point of view, the various types of transport are meaningless. They are primarily interested in ease-of-use, from transfers to payment to destinations. The rise of private automobile use can partially be explained because there are no transfers, there is one payment (gas), and one can drive anywhere at any time. For transport to effectively compete, it must cater to the same demands – be as convenient. Integrating across modes helps achieve this.