Curriculum Detail

This curriculum may be used in its entirety to create a semester-long course on public transportation. If a semester-long course is not desired, individual modules can be selected to provide an overview of public transportation and used to supplement other courses. It is up to the individual instructor to determine how to use the materials. The curriculum was designed so that it can be adapted to all learning situations.

For all of the modules, PowerPoint slides are provided for class lectures. These slides can be modified to address specific objectives that instructors may want to achieve in their classes. All slides have instructor notes unless the particular slide is self-explanatory. Where appropriate, references to articles, reports, and texts have been provided to allow the instructor to make student reading assignments. Several assignments are also provided.

How to Use Curriculum

Recommended Readings

Module 1: Introduction to Public Transportation

Lesson 1 “What is Public Transportation?”

Describes the components of public transportation, helps students identify transit options available in their communities, illustrates ways communities view public transportation and recognizes that there is no universal structure for transit.

Lesson 2 “The History of Public Transportation”

Helps the students articulate the relationship between the development of transit technology, the transit enterprise, and U.S. urban development. Students also learn to describe the positive and negative impacts of the dramatic change in urban travel methods and patterns during the past 90 years.

Lesson 3 “The Business of Public Transportation”

Students examine the social and economic benefits of public transportation; analyze the role of public transportation in the livability of a community and quality of life of residents; illustrate the benefit of public transportation for non-riders; and capture the vital role that public transportation plays in the delivery of community services, economic development, quality of life and the enhancement of the livability of a community.

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Module 2: Governance, Finance, and Policy

Lesson 1

Addresses the organizational structure and governance of public transportation agencies. Learning objectives include: understanding the ways that public transportation agencies are structures and understanding the role of transit agency boards of directors and how these boards are constituted.

Lesson 2

Covers funding models for public transit authorities by reviewing various agencies throughout the United States.

Lesson 3

Covers the American with Disabilities Act and civil rights. The learning objectives are to understand the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as they relate to public transportation and to understand the civil rights laws and requirements that apply to public transportation.

Lesson 4

Addresses social change and justice. The learning objective is to be able to recognize the role of public transportation in promoting equity and social justice.

Lesson 5

Introduces students to environmental sustainability and livability. Students learn to describe the concepts of environmental sustainability and livability; describe the relationship of public transportation to environmental sustainability and livability; and describe how public transportation can further these goals while achieving other goals like mobility and equity.

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Module 3: Planning and Design

Lesson 1 “Travel Behavior and Transit Travel Demand”

Helps students describe fundamental motivations for personal travel; explain the factors that influence travel and mode choice (availability, convenience, image, speed, cost, reliability, safety, comfort, etc.); restate the traditional model for thinking about travel demand (trip generation, trip distribution, mode choice, and trip assignment); review conditions that influence transit mode share; and compare linked versus unlinked trips, round trips, trip tours, etc.

Lesson 2 “Modal Characteristics and Impacts”

Covers the wide range of modes available and the diversity of features and characteristics within each; discusses which mode fits the required role; and describe the importance of providing data on characteristics in a way that encourages input from stakeholders.

Lesson 3 “Network Characteristics”

Learning objectives are for students to understand how technology traits should match the market characteristics; be able to describe the different network configurations including overlaying modes, radial/crosstown/timed transfer; and describe the integration of multiple modes including park and ride, bikes on buses and airport/intercity.

Lesson 4 “Transit Systems Planning”

Introduces students to systems planning and helps them understand the steps required for plan selection and the key features and elements required.

Lesson 5 “Planning for Public Transportation and Land-Use”

Explains the transportation and land-use connection; describes the history of transportation and urban development; examines the cost of sprawl; and discusses pedestrian-friendly design and transit-oriented development.

Lesson 6 “Public Transportation and Regional Transportation Planning” 

Enables students to describe why regional planning is relevant for public transportation, discuss the history of regional transportation planning; and understand the regional transportation planning process and common issues that may arise.

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Module 4: Transit Service Planning

Lesson 1 “Public Transit Planning in the United States”

Students discuss the history of public transit in the United States, summarize the variety of transit modes and their attributes from a planning perspective and describe the typical duties of a transit service planner.

Lesson 2 “Fundamentals of Transit Service and Networks”

Enables students to explain the key factors that drive transit demand, summarize the main approaches to network design, and describe the role of intermodal coordination in transit planning.

Lesson 3 “Route Level Planning and Design Concepts”

Describes scheduling concepts that impact running time, express the basic principles and usage of ridership projections, and examines route-level resource allocation and constraints.

Lesson 4 “Developing Service: Measuring Quality of Service”

Describes the difference between transit performance viewpoints of the passengers, the community, and the agency. The lesson also summarizes various metrics that can be used to evaluate transit quality of service.

Lesson 5 “Developing Service: Calculating Capacity”

Students learn how to calculate transit vehicle and passenger capacity at four levels including loading area, bus stop, bus facility, and person capacity.

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Module 5: Transit Management

Lesson 1 “Organizational Models and Transit System Stakeholders”

Focuses on the organizational models and transit system stakeholders. The learning objectives are for students to recognize the various organizational models among transit systems; list the various functions performed by transit management; describe how management interacts among various internal and external stakeholders, and how the interests of those stakeholders may conflict with one another; explain what ethical challenges are faced by a transit system CEO; effectively use statistical indicators to measure and benchmark transit system performance.

Lesson 2 “Performance Measurement and Benchmarking”

Addresses Performance Measurement and Benchmarking.

Lesson 3 “Organized Labor in Transit”

Introduces students to Organized Labor in Transit.

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Module 6: Public Transit Technology and Trends

Lesson 1 “The Impact of Evolving Technology on Public Transportation”

Helps students to understand how various impact areas are influenced by technology trends and offers examples of some of the specific applications within the transit industry. The areas include safety, environmental, customer convenience, and cost-effectiveness.

Lesson 2 “Trends Affecting Public Transportation”

Students learn to understand the historical trends affecting public transportation and to examine some of the other trends currently occurring in the United States and describe how they affect public transportation.

Download Module 6

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