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Different Types of Transit Service & Vehicles

Which option is right for Henry County? There are so many transit options. Most communities find that a single option isn’t enough. A community has to have a mix of transit options to meet the needs of its residents.
To learn more about the different types of transit and what makes them work, explore the information below.

Demand Response Service (including Paratransit Service)

Currently, Henry County only offers demand response service to residents. Demand response service requires a reservation and picks up a passenger during a scheduled window of time and drops them off at their destination. Passengers trips are scheduled by the transit agency and combined where possible. Demand response service is typically curb-to-curb service, where a passenger is picked up and dropped off at the curb (as opposed to the door). When localities operate fixed-route transit, Federal law requires them to provide complementary paratransit service to residents who live within ¾-mile of a transit line but cannot reach the stop or station due to a cognitive, developmental, or physical disability. Paratransit service is a reservation-based shared ride. Capital costs are limited to vehicles.

Operating Cost (per vehicle/per hour): Approx. $50-$100

Capital (per mile): Approx. $50-$60K (per vehicle)




Flex Service

Flex transit service focuses on areas of service rather than exact routes. Vehicles typically provide a form of on-demand service that is more responsive than fixed route transit service, but not as responsive as mobility on demand. These services often work best in suburban and rural areas where residential density is low and destinations are dispersed. Usually a zone is identified such that trips with origins and destinations within the zone are the only places served. While larger vehicles can be used, smaller vehicles (e.g., 20-passenger vehicles) are more likely to be used due to their ability to navigate more narrow residential streets. Capital costs are limited to vehicles and stop infrastructure.

Operating Cost (per vehicle/per hour): Approx. $100-$150

Capital (per mile): Approx. $400-$800K (per vehicle)


Mobility on Demand

Mobility on demand (MOD) services focus on improving the passenger experience through the use of real-time travel information, electronic fare payment systems, and other app-based systems. Private examples of MOD service include Uber and Lyft. Services are often restricted to particular geographic areas and/or times of day. While still an emerging service for public providers, there are a few examples of pilot programs across the country. In Florida, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) uses MOD to transport late-shift workers to/from work when the regular local bus service is not running. Numerous systems use this technology to transport non-emergency medical passengers. Capital investments only include vehicles.

Operating Cost (per vehicle/per hour): Approx. $50-$100

Capital (per mile): Approx. $50-$60K (per vehicle)




Community Circulator

A community circulator is very similar to local bus service, but it operates on shorter circular or linear routes that connect residents and employees with local medical, grocery, retail, and other services. Community circulators have frequent stops along a fixed route although some may allow short deviations from the route when requested by a passenger. Some circulators operate on a schedule while others merely circulate continuously on a route. Community circulators operate on regular streets and are affected by automobile congestion. Community circulator buses are often smaller than local buses (e.g., 20 passengers versus 40 or more). Capital costs are limited to vehicles and stop infrastructure. The frequency of community circulators is usually 30 or 60 minutes. Buses are typically fueled by gasoline or diesel. Passengers pay when they enter the bus which slows the boarding process. Circulator service uses traditional bus stops which vary between a stop with only a bus stop sign to a stop with a sheltered seating area. As an example, Gainesville, GA, recently launched a community circulator service.

Operating Cost (per vehicle/per hour): Approx. $100-$150

Capital (per mile): Approx. $400-$800K (per vehicle)


Local Bus Service

Local bus service is designed to make frequent stops along a fixed route and schedule. Local buses operate on regular streets and are affected by automobile congestion. Local buses carry approximately 40 seated passengers but can have standing passengers as well. Capital costs are limited to vehicles and stop infrastructure. The frequency of local bus service varies substantially from 10 minutes on high demand routes in peak periods to 60 minutes during evenings and on weekends. Buses can be fueled by gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, electricity, or a hybrid of fuel sources. Passengers pay when they enter the bus which slows the boarding process. Buses have lifts to assist passengers with limited mobility. This service uses traditional bus stops that vary between a stop with only a bus stop sign to a stop with a sheltered seating area. One example of local bus service is Gwinnett County Transit.

Operating Cost (per vehicle/per hour): Approx. $100-$150

Capital (per mile): Approx. $600-$800K (per vehicle)




Express/High Capacity Bus Service

Express bus service is designed to pick up commuters near their residences, often from a park-and-ride, and take them directly to an employment district with very few stops along the way. Express buses operate on regular streets such that they are affected by automobile congestion. Express buses carry fewer people than BRT/ART vehicles. Capital costs are limited to vehicles, park-and-ride facilities, and stop infrastructure. The frequency of express bus service varies, but it is typically concentrated during peak morning and evening commute periods with only one or two trips during the middle of the day. Buses can be fueled by gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, electricity, or a hybrid of fuel sources. Express buses are designed for greater comfort than local buses as passengers ride longer distances on them and they often use interstates for travel. Passengers pay when they enter the bus which slows the boarding process. Buses have lifts to assist passengers with limited mobility. Xpress operates four routes in Henry County: Route 430 McDonough to Downtown Opens in new window ; Route 431 Stockbridge to Midtown Opens in new window ; Route 432 Stockbridge to Downtown Opens in new window ; and Route 440/441 Hampton/Jonesboro to Downtown/Midtown Opens in new window .

Operating Cost (per vehicle/per hour): Approx. $150-$250

Capital (per mile): Approx. $600-$800K (per vehicle)


Arterial Rapid Transit (ART)

Commonly referred to as ART, arterial rapid transit is a frequent bus service with strategic enhancements to improve its speed and reliability. ART vehicles operate on regular streets such that they are affected by automobile congestion, but they incorporate short bus-only lanes adjacent to major intersections to reduce delays. ART vehicles carry the same number of people as BRT vehicles, but they tend to travel at slower speeds due to being in normal traffic lanes. They are also less expensive to build than BRT because a dedicated travel lane is not needed. The frequency of ART is typically 15 minutes or less. Buses can be fueled by gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, electricity, or a hybrid of fuel sources. ART buses are often articulated so that they can accommodate 50+ passengers. ART systems may also employ technology to reduce delay caused by traffic signals. Passengers may pay at select stations, which speeds the boarding process. Passengers board from platforms that are level with the bus’s floor which helps people of all abilities to board more easily. Stations are typically spaced about 1/3 mile apart. Stations offer amenities like ticket vending machines, real-time bus arrival information, etc.

Operating Cost (per vehicle/per hour): Approx. $100-$150

Capital (per mile): Approx. $2.5M




Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

Commonly referred to as BRT, bus rapid transit is a bus that is operated like a train. BRT vehicles may operate in their own lane so that they are not affected by automobile congestion. BRT vehicles carry fewer people and travel at slower speeds than trains, but they are much less expensive to build. Buses can be fueled by gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, electricity, or a hybrid of fuel sources. BRT buses are often articulated and more stylized than local buses. BRT is most often operated at ground level, but they can operate below ground. The frequency of BRT is typically 15 minutes or less. Passengers pay to enter stations (not the bus itself) which speeds the boarding process. Passengers board from platforms that are level with the bus’s floor which helps people of all abilities to board more easily. Stations are typically spaced about 1/3 mile apart, but they can be closer in highly developed urban areas. Stations offer amenities like ticket vending machines, directional signs, and real-time bus arrival information.

Operating Cost (per vehicle/per hour): Approx. $100-$150

Capital (per mile): Approx. $25M


Light Rail (LRT)

Light rail and streetcar systems are very similar although streetcar systems tend to operate at lower speeds, and therefore, over shorter distances than light rail systems. Light rail trains may operate in their own lane so that they are not affected by automobile congestion. Light rail trains carry fewer people and travel at slower speeds than heavy rail trains, but they are less expensive to build. Typically, trains are powered electrically from an overhead wire. Light rail is most often operated at ground level, but they can operate below ground. The frequency of light rail is typically 15 minutes or less. Passengers pay to enter stations (not the train itself) which speeds the boarding process. Passengers board from platforms that are level with the train’s floor which helps people of all abilities to board more easily. Stations are typically spaced at least a mile apart, but they can be closer in urban areas. Additionally, streetcar stations are usually ¼–½ mile apart. Stations may offer amenities like ticket vending machines, directional signs, real-time train arrival information. The Atlanta Streetcar operated by MARTA is an example of light rail transit.

Operating Cost (per vehicle/per hour): Approx. $250-$350

Capital (per mile): Approx. $120M (streetcar $75M)




Commuter Rail

Commuter rail is a passenger train service that focuses on carrying commuters from suburban areas into the central city. Like express buses, the frequency of commuter rail service varies, but it is typically concentrated during peak morning and evening commute periods with only one or two trips during the middle of the day. Large park-and-ride lots and/or transit-oriented developments (TOD) often accompany the outer station locations. Typically, the service is considered a form of heavy rail.

Operating Cost (per vehicle/per hour): Approx. $250-$300

Capital (per mile): Approx. $250M


Heavy Rail Transit (HRT)

Heavy rail trains operate on tracks so that they are not affected by automobile congestion. Heavy rail trains carry more people and travel at faster speeds than light rail trains, but they are more expensive to build. Typically, trains are powered electrically from a third rail. Heavy rail can operate at ground level, on an elevated structure, or below ground. The frequency of heavy rail is typically 15 minutes or less. Passengers pay to enter stations (not the train itself) which speeds the boarding process. Passengers board from platforms that are level with the train’s floor which helps people of all abilities to board more easily. Stations are typically spaced at least a mile apart, but may be closer together in dense urban areas, such as Downtown or Midtown Atlanta. Stations in urban areas offer access for pedestrians, bicyclists and drop-off passengers. Stations in suburban areas typically offer all of those access options plus parking areas. Stations may offer amenities like ticket vending machines, customer service kiosks, directional signs, real-time train arrival information, etc. MARTA trains are considered heavy rail.

Operating Cost (per vehicle/per hour): Approx. $250-$300

Capital (per mile): Approx. $250M