Establishing A Modern Multimodal Transportation System


As a mature region, Greater Philadelphia's transportation system is largely built out. The focus now is on maintaining and preserving the system and improving its efficiency. With limited funding for new capacity expansion, the Connections 2040 Plan recommends making the transportation system more functional through Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) improvements and land use decisions that support alternative modes of transportation to optimize investments.

Multimodal Transportation

Greater Philadelphia benefits from a strong multimodal transportation system. Connections 2040 plans to strengthen and enhance the multimodal aspects of the region's transportation infrastructure through maintenance programs and targeted expansion. Increasing transportation sustainability can be done by encouraging environmentally friendly alternative forms of transportation, such as walking, biking, and transit. Compact development patterns, particularly transit-oriented and mixed-use development, increase accessibility between origins and destinations. Providing facilities, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and multi-use trails, as well as improving transit service, can help to encourage the use of these modes. Municipal tools to help build a modern, multimodal network include:

Context-Sensitive Design/Context-Sensitive Solutions

Community Shuttle Programs

Park-and-Ride Programs

Sidewalk Standards

Sidewalk Management

Incorporate Transit into Development Review

Transportation Safety

Enhancing safety is of the utmost concern, both in terms of new facilities and addressing previous facilities designed to standards that are now outdated and may compromise safety. Careful consideration should be given to the location, frequency, type, and cause of crashes within the recent past. Tools to enhance safety on our regional roadways include:

Traffic Calming

Road Safety Audit

Complete Streets

Road Diets

Shared Space/Living Streets

Coordinated Traffic Signal Systems


Access Management

Vision Zero

Parking Management

Municipal parking standards often assume that all trips will be made by car and that destinations will be isolated and single use in character. Such standards fail to recognize the different types of parking provisions that may be desirable or cost appropriate for different contexts, such as downtowns, suburban shopping districts, or rural areas. Municipal parking ordinances therefore often result in too much parking or requirements that are not flexible for mixed-use settings. These requirements have a strong influence on the built and natural environment and how the community grows or redevelops. Municipalities can better regulate, manage, and design parking to fit local needs by revising their local ordinances to consider the following:

Minimum/Maximum Parking Standards

Shared Parking, Reserve Parking, and Fee-in-Lieu Parking

Pricing or Metering Strategies

Dedicated and/or Preferred Parking

Sustainable Practices in Parking Design

Sustainable Transportation

Local governments can encourage new environmentally friendly technologies, which increase sustainability. These can be in the form of supporting the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles, telecommuting, car sharing, and bike sharing. The last two, in particular, lend themselves to potential public–-private partnerships and create services that reduce the need for auto ownership.

Many local governments maintain their own fleet of vehicles, ranging from heavy-duty vehicles (such as waste-hauling trucks and fire trucks) to light-duty trucks and passenger cars, including police cars. Local government fleets are excellent test beds for the introduction of alternative vehicles in the region. In many cases there are various incentives for switching to alternative fuels, which, combined with increased fuel efficiency, can further save the municipality money. Light- and heavy-duty trucks are particularly well suited to conversion to natural gas, which has the added benefit of being relatively local in nature.

Local governments can utilize travel demand management techniques for their employees. These benefits can help local governments compete for talent, reduce roadway demand during peak hours, and help make local government cleaner and greener.

Travel Demand Management (TDM)

Trip Reduction Ordinances (TRO)

Fleet Vehicle Audits

Purchasing Natural Gas Vehicles

Encouraging Electric Vehicle Charging

Cool Pavement

Walking and Biking Encouragement Programs

Regional Transportation Funding

Lack of funding is a major challenge as we work to modernize the transportation system. The region's transportation infrastructure faces a $53 billion funding deficit over the next 25 years just to maintain the system in a state of good repair, with limited new-capacity expansion.

Pennsylvania recently passed Act 89, which will provide a significant increase in funding for transportation projects in the state. However, the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund is nearly broke, and the Greater Philadelphia region lags behind the other largest metro areas in the United States in terms of local contribution to transportation projects. Realizing the importance of a modern multimodal transportation system and the need to invest in maintaining and improving our existing system, several counties in the region are starting to look at ways to raise transportation funding from local sources, including bonds and tolling.

One type of funding source that municipalities have the power to enforce is traffic impact fees. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey have "partnership acts," which encourage private developer contributions to advance transportation projects. These funds often come as a result of a major development impacting the local transportation network. The rationale for such funding is that the developer's contribution (or implementation in absence of public funds) serves to speed up project delivery, resulting in enhanced overall accessibility to the development.

Municipalities can work with DVRPC and state departments of transportation to reduce the costs of transportation projects by ensuring that projects are "right-sized" in order to scale the solution to the size of the problem and tailor the approach to the specific project, and selecting transportation projects for capital programming based on sound long-range strategic planning considerations, life-cycle investment analyses, and system performance and condition data.

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