Strategic Station Access Planning for Commuter Rail Balancing Park-and-Ride with Other Modes

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - rail, mode - park and ride, ridership - commuting, policy - parking, policy - sustainable


park-and-ride, transit stations, commuter rail network, station access policy


At most suburban rail stations, park-and-ride is the dominant use and the preferred access mode for most riders. Many transit agencies are trying to reduce their reliance on park-and-ride facilities and to encourage greater access by more sustainable modes. The recently releasedTCRP Report 153: Guidelines for Providing Access to Public Transportation Stations outlines a process to identify multimodal access priorities at high-capacity transit stations, and to weigh the benefits and trade-offs. This paper presents a case study analysis of how this station access planning process could be adapted and applied to a commuter rail network. The analysis considered the GO Transit rail system, which at the time of the study operated more than 65,000 park-and-ride spaces across 62 stations in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area of Ontario, Canada. In general, the TCRP process provided an effective approach to develop a strategic station access plan. However, several ways in which the process could be improved were identified. The paper recommends policy scenario analysis as a consultative and analytical approach to prepare a systemwide station access policy. The paper also presents a decision-making framework to assess parking needs at the individual station level and provides an example of how this framework was used to make trade-offs during the station access planning process, with balanced investment in park-and-ride and other access modes. Overall, station access planning exercises should attempt to build recommendations from the top down (i.e., station access policy) and the bottom up (i.e., decision-making framework) to ensure that proposed solutions support the overall policy direction while they respond to the individual station context.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.