Bus Transit to Workplace

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Study Introduction

What began as a study of improving bus connections to employment areas quickly grew into a larger effort looking at how accessible the Mid-South’s growing employment areas are to region’s population. Many employees (and potential employees) in the Mid-South Region do not always have access to a private vehicle. The Bus Transit to Work study includes an analysis of how employment is distributed regionally and how well employment areas are served by transportation infrastructure, including bus routes, bike lanes, and walking paths. For further detail, the study examines large employers at a site-specific level, collecting data on where employees live, how they travel to work and how easily their buildings are to reach by walking, biking and/or riding the bus.

This website provides all products of the Bus Transit to Workplace Study as separate documents for download.

Study Background

Access to employment is a critical factor in the well being and potential health of the Mid-South Region and its citizens. Through an intense survey and data analysis effort, the team found that employment is continuing to decentralize throughout the Mid-South and the ability to access these employment sites is increasingly challenging. Driving alone is expensive, particularly compared to area wages for entry level jobs. Where these jobs are locating, most other transportation modes are simply not viable. The survey included targeted interviews with large employers and a widely distributed commuter survey, which also collected information such as shift times to help understand the difficulties in coordinating transportation improvement efforts in the future.

Given the geographic distribution and type of jobs  in the Mid-South region, and the location of residential areas, it was quickly evident that access to work solutions in the region would have to move beyond transit service alone. Working with the Mid-South Regional Greenprint Consortium, a series of alternative strategies to improve access to work were developed. These were consolidated into a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Toolkit that identifies a series of strategies that help to reduce strain on both transportation networks and travelers by providing alternative options to driving alone. The TDM Toolkit showcases national best practices and demonstrates how to implement TDM strategies in the Mid-South.

To download any of the elements of the study below, please click on the title below.

Two surveys targeting both employers and commuters were implemented to get both sides of the story regarding work commutes in the Mid-South region. The team surveyed 96 employers and almost 700 commuters. Key findings include:
* About 1 in 3 employers reported transportation challenges for its employees.
* The majority of employees reported driving to work.
* A few employers report offering alternative transportation support programs such as a ride matching program, but most prioritized providing free parking for their employees.
* Most employees reported traditional shift times (i.e., weekdays between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM), but many employment centers have round the clock or overnight shifts.
The State of Employment report examines employment and population patterns at a regional level. The analysis found:
* A slowing of growth in the city of Memphis itself while population grew in the surrounding suburbs.
* In particular, East Memphis and Germantown have become important centers.
* In contrast, income and housing in these areas tends to be higher than that of the urban core.
* Many low-wage, entry level job centers are located outside the downtown and not well served by transit, making transportation a burden for those employees.
This set of overview slides explains Transportation Demand Management (TDM), gives a brief overview of its importance in a region like Shelby County, and provides a set of preliminary recommendations for TDM strategies. TDM strategies include alternative programs, policies and incentives that provide options to driving alone.
The Transportation Demand Management Toolkit (“TDM Toolkit”) is designed to help explore and diversify regional travel options by introducing a series of strategies to the region known as transportation demand management, or TDM. In the Mid-South Region, the main objective is to increase the accessibility of employment. As many employees do not have access to, nor can they afford a vehicle, providing the means for greater access helps both potential employees by opening up economic opportunities and employers by enlarging their potential labor pool while minimizing costs. In many cases, there are direct tax benefits or available funding for the implementation of these strategies.The TDM toolkit provides an overview of program structures, funding sources, benefits and application to the Mid-South for:

Employer/Worksite Based TDM Strategies
* Employer shuttles
* Employer-Subsidized Transit Pass
* Commuter Bus Service
* Seasonal Bus Service
* Parking Cash-Out
* Commuter Bicycle Benefits
* On-site Bicycle Facilities

Regional TDM strategies
* Universal Pass Program (U-Pass)
* Vanpool Service
* Park-and-Ride Lots: Shared Lots and Pocket Parks
* Pedestrian Facilities / Safe Routes to Work
* Carpooling, Rideshare, and Ride Matching Services
* Transportation Management Association (TMA)
* Guaranteed Ride Home Program
* Regional Transit Funding Strategy

Case Studies

One of the longer term goals of the Bus Transit to Workplace study is to identify specific strategies that will help improve the accessibility of employment. To delve into specific solutions and applications, the Bus Transit to Workplace effort took a case study approach to look at the current availability and utilization of multi-modal transportation networks at different clusters of job sites in the Mid-South Region.

Case studies include Southaven, MS, the Aerotropolis of Memphis, Memphis’s Medical District, Collierville, TN and the industrial job center of President’s Island. The case studies looked at both the challenges of access given the current infrastructure, and how the TDM toolkit and infrastructure improvements could be applied to select locations. The Case Studies are meant to show how these lessons could be applied to other Mid-South areas.

To download the full case study, click on the title or maps below.

btws-aero-boundary AEROTROPOLIS
Area Type Solutions
83,000 jobs in an
industrial area with
limited transit service
and shift workers
* Improved pedestrian access to job sites
* High frequency bus service on key corridors
* Planned bicycle network
* Transportation Management Association
With 83,000 jobs at a variety of income levels, this area is an important generator of the regional economy. However, the Aerotropolis Case study found that while vehicular access to the Aerotropolis is good, transit access is concentrated in certain areas and ridership is not high. Pedestrian and bicycle facilities are also disjointed and sparse, although current planning efforts seek to change that. Shift times in the area are close but not aligned, making group transportation difficult. However, basic improvements such as pedestrian access to job sites, high frequency bus service and the planned bicycle network can efficiently combat transportation issues thanks to the areas high concentration of jobs and investment. In particular, a Transportation Management Association (TMA) could quickly coordinate efforts and revolutionize transportation by focusing efforts on issues that are largely ignored.


btws-med-boundary MEDICAL DISTRICT
Area Type Solutions
High density,
medically-oriented job
center close to
downtown. Good
sidewalk connectivity
and transit service.
* Subsidized transit passes, vanpool program
* Transportation Management Association
Another high-density job center, the Medical District is home to over 21,000 jobs with a high level of transit service. Opportunities in this area include infrastructure improvements such as pedestrian facilities as well as programmatic changes such as subsidized transit passes and a vanpool program. The high density of large employers make the area a good candidate for a TMA that could help coordinate both the planning and funding of these efforts.


btws-southaven-boundary SOUTHAVEN
Area Type Solutions
Suburban residential,
big-box retail, and
some industrial
development. Limited
* Employee shuttles, vanpool program
* Integrated access
Southaven has doubled its population since 1990 and become a job center specializing in distribution, hospitality, and medicine. The focus area for this case study contained residential, retail and industrial development – a key finding was that barriers to access between these uses, leads to circuitous commutes. Recommendations included creating a multimodal corridor along Goodman Road, where underutilized parking lots could also serve as park-and-rides.


btws-collierville-boundary COLLIERVILLE
Area Type Solutions
Growing suburb with
higher home prices
and lower job wages.
Arterial roads with few
secondary roads. Little
to no pedestrian
infrastructure in areas.
* Focused pedestrian upgrades at intersections
* Land use control
* Connect street network
Collierville is a growing suburb with a population over 40,000 and more than 16,000 jobs. However, the income level of these jobs does not match the higher cost of living in Collierville, meaning that many commute from elsewhere to work there. The Collierville area is well-served by arterial roads, but a disconnected secondary road network makes travel routes in the area circuitous. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities are generally not available. Recommendations include focusing pedestrian infrastructure upgrades at intersections, which is a cost-efficient and effective way to facilitate connections. Vanpools, transit and land use control are also discussed in this plan, including previous planning efforts in town.


Area Type Solutions
Industrial park with
limited access to
downtown Memphis.
Little to no transit
service or pedestrian
* Mobility hub
* Shuttle connections to mainland
* Transportation Management Association
Located just west of Memphis, close to the Arkansas state line, President’s Island is an almost exclusively industrial area with about 3,000 jobs. Its connection to the mainland via Jack Carley Causeway means that all who travel to the island must pass the same intersection. This therefore becomes an excellent location for a mobility hub with shuttle stop and other “last mile” connections such as bike share. Other recommendations include a TMA, particularly to help coordinate shift schedules with MATA service to the island.