TCRP Research Report 196: Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions provides an overview and taxonomy of private transit services in the United States, reviews their present scope and operating characteristics, presents three case studies, and discusses ways private transit services may affect the communities in which they operate. This report is intended to help inform public transit agencies, local governments, potential service operators and sponsors, and other stakeholders about private transit services and ways these services address transportation needs in a variety of operating environments.
This report details three case studies and documents lessons learned and best practices for bringing both public and private stakeholders to the table to develop a policy and regulatory approach.
- Allocate street space to reflect public priorities without stifling private-sector innovation. Develop policy tools to prioritize public and private goals for access to curb space and rights-of-way, weighing such factors as the level of demand for space, whether proposed private uses supplement or compete with public transit services, and the size and restrictions on ridership of private services. Such policies could help clarify and make predictable for all stakeholders what transportation uses are permitted in which locations and do so with a clear public rationale and process.
- Update local and state licensing of private transportation services to reflect evolving business practices and emerging models. This helps build a better understanding of the size and extent of the private transportation market as it exists today. Most jurisdictions have no way to know how many and what types of private vehicles are working the streets or whether, for instance, large private buses are serving commuters, sightseers, or charter passengers, each of which would have different impacts on the public right-of-way.
- Use private transit services as an "early warning" to indicate how and where service needs and markets are changing. The presence of private transit services in a corridor can suggest where new or more frequent public transit routes are needed. New residential or commercial development may be creating a need for express routes or connections that didn't previously exist or could not have been supported.
- Anticipate that conflict may be heightened by reconfiguration of public space. Include private transit providers in project planning, and open lines of communication with private providers known to be operating in a corridor before changes start to take place
- Incorporate private operations into emergency planning and response. Private transit services have been enlisted to provide transportation services when public transit was overwhelmed in the wake of several natural disasters.