Transit funding during construction

Funding additional or improved transit service can mitigate the impacts of construction. Typically, funding helps to add services to compensate for transit reductions caused by construction activity or to encourage travelers to use transit running on parallel routes.

Key characteristics




Strategy description

Transit funding during construction is a strategy to provide improved transit options during major construction. This helps encourage travelers to take transit alternatives and reduce car trips through construction zones. Locations for improved transit services may be on the construction route itself or on parallel corridors.

It is important to identify funding as part of a construction transportation management plan (TMP). Construction projects with significant anticipated traffic impacts typically require a TMP. 

Plan to work with transit agencies to develop appropriate service planning and operations strategies to support the new travel patterns.

Considerations for encouraging travelers to use transit alternatives:

  • Create bus-only lanes or freeway bus-on-shoulder operations during peak commute times to give transit a travel time advantage
  • Add more buses throughout the day so travelers have a shorter wait for the next bus whenever they need to catch it
  • Modify or extend bus routes to align better with traveler needs (e.g., express service to key destinations, “bus bridges” to link train stations during rail construction)
  • Establish new park-and-ride lots to connect drivers to transit lines

In order to build enough awareness among travelers to create a substantial shift to the new transit alternatives, advertising and marketing are essential.

Considerations for marketing the transit service:

  • Make rides free—free rides can be a power inducement for travelers to try transit
  • Launch a wide-ranging media campaign to promote the new travel alternatives, including print, radio, TV, web, social media, and billboards

When to use this strategy

Funding transit service enhancements as part of a project’s construction TMP is necessary for any project that is expected to reduce critical roadway capacity during construction. Existing transit service must be available in the construction zone or on parallel routes to be enhanced.

Strategy benefits:

  • Reduces traffic congestion through the work zone
  • Reduces the amount of time it takes to move through the work zone
  • Improves public awareness of transit alternatives to driving alone
  • Potential continued transit ridership after construction has been completed
  • Improves work zone safety for workers and road users

What you need in order to implement

Various policy, planning, and coordination activities must occur to integrate transit funding strategies effectively into a construction TMP.

Policy needs:

  • Agency policies and procedures to promote transit enhancements as a component of construction transportation management
  • Funding mechanism to pay for additional transit services

Planning needs:

  • Planning and analysis to determine feasible transit service and operations strategies

Coordination needs:

  • Coordination with the transit agency serving the construction area to develop specific transit service strategies
  • Media and public outreach to gain public awareness of new transit options and enhancements

Learn more about this strategy

Minnesota Department of Transportation, Mitigating Highway Construction Impacts Through the Use of Transit (PDF).

New Jersey Department of Transportation, Traffic Mitigation Guidelines. Include sections on transit incentives, transit service improvements, and park and ride lot expansion.

King County Metro/WSDOT, Alaskan Way Viaduct Program Construction Traffic Mitigation: Enhanced Transit, Transit Travel Time and Demand Management Performance Report (PDF). Includes an example of transit system enhancement.

About key characteristics

Location notes:

Transit funding strategies during construction apply best to urban and corridor locations where there is existing transit service and where higher densities and space constraints emphasize transit’s spatial efficiency advantages.

Cost notes:

Transit funding strategy costs vary widely depending on the type and extent of transit enhancements selected. Major cost drivers include additional bus service hours and fare subsidies.

Technology notes:

Transit funding plans themselves do not require technology. Typical transit enhancement solutions, such as additional bus service, fare reductions, and temporary bus lanes do not use sophisticated technology.

Collaboration notes:

Significant collaboration is required between the agency responsible for construction and the transit agency to plan for service enhancements, operate and monitor the new services, and coordinate public outreach.