— NACTO (@NACTO) August 22, 2016
Last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority joined the National Association of City Transportation Officials, the federation of local DOTs whose policy guidance and street design manuals are popularizing a more multi-modal approach to urban transportation policy.
Until now, NACTO members have all been city agencies in charge of streets. While some members also operate transit (most notably SFMTA), New York’s MTA is the first “transit-only” agency to join.
If more transit agencies follow the MTA’s lead, this could be an important precedent with big implications for city streets and transit across the country — here’s why.
Teamwork between streets agencies and transit agencies matters.
This is the angle NACTO emphasized in its announcement. Most city transit service in America runs on streets, and, as former NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan put it, “transit must be designed into the street from the centerline to the sidewalk, not tacked on as an afterthought.” To implement service improvements like transit lanes, better bus stops, or signal priority for transit vehicles, DOTs and transit agencies need to collaborate.
Transit agencies need to share expertise. NACTO excels at that.
NACTO’s bread and butter is sharing good ideas and helping them spread. Applied to streets, that’s come in the form of training, policy guidance, and design manuals about how to make transportation systems more multimodal. More cities are overhauling streets to create safe conditions for walking and biking thanks to NACTO. If other transit agencies follow the MTA and join, the same tactics could accelerate changes that significantly improve service, like redesigning bus networks or procuring modern fare payment systems.
A new type of political muscle for transit.