Off-Street Facilities

Proper design of off-street facilities can be just as important to the overall efficiency, safety, convenience, and comfort of the transit system as on-street systems. Design of these facilities present an opportunity for integration with surrounding land uses, including mixed use development and existing structures. It is also an opportunity to ensure that stations and services are fully accessible for all users. Regardless of location, taking into account the appropriate turning radii, space requirements at queuing areas, and efficient loading and unloading configurations at off-street facilities will minimize the land area required for these facilities while optimizing the functionality of the overall system and enhancing user perceptions of the system as a whole.

Bus Berths

Bus berths are recessed bus stop areas designed to accommodate more than one transit vehicle. Similar in concept to bus turnouts, bus berths provide convenient, off-street service points and bus staging areas that do not interfere with traffic movement. Bus berth designs, parallel or sawtooth, also can be incorporated into transportation center, transfer facility and park-n-ride site plans for passenger loading and unloading as well as for bus layovers.

Pace's transportation engineer should be consulted to determine the bus bay capacity at specific locations.

The bus berth should be constructed with concrete landing pads to prevent the buckling of pavement and should be designed to accommodate the largest bus size planned to use that particular facility. Where feasible, the bus berth should be separated from roadways and drive aisles utilized by other vehicles. Barriers may be particularly important for facilities located adjacent to high speed roadways.

Parallel curb-side bus berths

Parallel curb-side bus berths should be located adjacent to the proposed bus stop station and should be a minimum of 90-feet long and 12-feet wide for each bus that would be queued at the bus stop at any given time. A minimum of 20-feet should be provided between queued buses in order to allow queue buses to enter/exit the parallel bus berth. Within the park and ride facility, a travel lane should be provided adjacent to the parallel bus berth to allow through buses to pass queued buses.


Sawtooth bus berths may also be utilized within a park and ride facility. Sawtooth bus berths direct bus traffic directly towards pedestrian-occupied areas and positive separation, in the form of bollards, should be provided to stop a bus from inadvertently entering into the pedestrian area. Bollards should be placed at the forward ends of saw tooth bus parking spaces.

Pace's transportation engineer should be contacted to determine the appropriate location and specifications for bollards and other safety resources.

lateral bay bus berths

Lateral bay bus berths are commonly used in park and ride facilities and transit transfer and terminal locations. In this configuration, lateral bays are placed side-by-side with passenger islands located between vehicle bays. Clearly marked crossing areas are provided so that vehicles stop short of pedestrian access to other waiting areas, and bays are typically designated to serve specific routes, enhancing operations and predictability for waiting riders.

Bus berths should be used at park and ride facilities as well as areas where transit routes intersect and bus waiting areas are appropriate. If these type of facilities are provided for an on-street facilities they should be located at mid-block locations rather than intersections to avoid conflicts with turning vehicles and to take advantage of gaps in traffic produced by traffic signals. To allow buses to more effectively re-enter traffic, bus berths should be designed so that vehicle operators have clear rear-vision capabilities. Bus berth widths of 15 feet - with appropriate pavement markings and signage - are desired for more effective and proper vehicle maneuverability where no barrier separation exists. However, Pace will evaluate barrier separation needs on a case by case basis.

Lighting for safety at boarding and circulation areas is important for both on and off-street locations.

Since many factors are involved in the design and location of these facilities, developers should consult Pace for assistance during the site plan development stage.

Bus Turnarounds

Bus turnarounds are roadway facilities that expedite a bus’ return to the service route. These facilities can be used at the termini of routes to turn transit vehicles or they can be incorporated into a development’s site design. Turnarounds can improve schedule adherence and service reliability. These roadway facilities also provide effective, off-street waiting and service areas for transit users. Site considerations and passenger requirements will determine the location of the passenger waiting area.

Bus turnarounds should be designed so the bus can be turned in a counter-clockwise direction to improve the drivers’ visibility. Additionally, the design should allow adequate space for a bus to pass a transit vehicle that may be loading/unloading passengers or have a mechanical breakdown. A 30-foot roadway width typically permits passing within a turnaround.

The “jug handle” bus turnaround design can be used at appropriate mid-block bus terminal locations to turn a transit vehicle. Proper signage or traffic signals along the roadway and at the turnaround may be needed for traffic control purposes and to expedite the return of the transit vehicle to its route.

The “cul-de-sac” and “loop” designs are acceptable for developments that do not have internal roadway networks to return a bus efficiently to an arterial roadway. Note, however, that transit operations are most efficient when provided on through streets. Therefore, “cul de sac” and “loop” turnarounds are typically located at the end of bus routes in appropriate locations, however they can be used in other situations.

Jug Handle



Park-N-Ride Facilities

The design of an off-street facility is typically not standardized, but is instead based on the size, function and location of the specific facility. Bus berths and bus turnarounds should be incorporated into the design of the parking facility to provide safe and efficient bus service. The design of the parking facility should consider the following.

Parking Facility Size

The number of parking stalls to be provided at an off-street facility should be based on the existing and projected transit ridership. General guidance for parking lot size identifies that approximately 90 to 100 stalls can fit on one acre of land. The local municipality code should be reviewed to determine parking space and aisle dimensional requirements.

Accessible parking spaces serving the transit facility should be located on the shortest accessible route of travel from adjacent parking to the transit facility. The number of accessible stalls required shall follow ADA Accessibility Guidelines. The facility design should incorporate measures to reduce pedestrian/automobile conflicts to promote the overall safety of the facility.

Vehicular Access

Access to the off-street facility should be at points that create as little disruption to existing traffic as possible and proper intersection spacing should be maintained based on the roadway classification and jurisdictional requirements. Transit vehicles and automobiles should be separated within the facility to maximize transit efficiency and safety.

Kiss & Ride Waiting Areas

Kiss & ride waiting areas should be located within the parking facility and should provide direct access to passenger waiting areas. Circulation in kiss & ride areas should be one-way and flank the passenger waiting area.

Pedestrian Access

Passenger waiting areas should be provided adjacent to bus loading areas and shelters should be provided. Pedestrians should not be required to walk excessive distances from the passenger shelter of the parking facility to boarding areas. Longer distances may be permitted, depending on size and configuration of the off-street facility. Provisions for bicycle parking should be incorporated into the overall design and should be located adjacent to passenger waiting areas.

Traditional Off-Street Facility

The diagram above illustrates the configuration and general operational characteristics of a traditional off-street park-n-ride bus facility. In this configuration, the facility sits entirely within a private parcel of land, with access provided from a transit corridor. The bus stop is located to provide easy and safe access from the parking area or public sidewalk. Bus access and circulation is provided through a dedicated entry and “loop,” while vehicular access for cars is provided through a seperate entry. This avoids conflicts between pedestrians, buses and cars, and maximizes access between various modes of transportation.

Express Park-N-Ride Facility

Pace serves portions of the region with express bus service that operates on limited access highways. These routes provide the opportunity for efficient regional mobility, but offer fewer points of access for potential riders. Other regions have implemented express park-n-ride facilities to enhance accessibility. In this configuration, a freeway exit includes a bus-only lane that provides direct access to the transit facility. On-site circulation returns the bus to the arterial network for easy entry back onto the freeway. Cars access the parking area from arterial streets, and the transit center provides convenient parking and a kiss-n-ride drop off area.

The image to the right illustrates how this scheme has been implemented in the Milwaukee region. This type of facility could be implemented in phases. First as a smaller ride-share lot, then upgraded to a full park-n-ride stop with additional parking capacity and investment in infrastructure.

Curbside Park-N-Ride Facility

The Chicago region includes many commercial developments with large parking areas located along arterial streets served by Pace buses. In these instances, property owners are encouraged to provide dedicated transit park-n-ride spaces near the arterial street. Parking would generally be used during work day periods when commercial parking demand is low and would occupy parking furthest from commercial structures. This would minimize the impacts on local businesses. A simple pedetstrian connection would provide access from the parking area to the public sidewalk near a transit stop.

The image on the right illustrates how this scheme could be implemented in a typical condition in the Chicago region. The exact location and amount of commuter parking would be dependent upon the location of bus stops, availability of parking at different times of day, and agreements with local property or business owners.

Off-street Facilities Implementation Checklist

Guideline PrinciplesImplementation Tools
Coordinate with Pace to appropriately integrate off-street bus facilities into development.Local zoning and subdivision regulations, Local public works/engineering standards, D.O.T standards
Coordinate with Pace to accommodate appropriate bus turnarounds as needed.Local public works/engineering standards, D.O.T standards
Design park-n-ride facilities that consider parking facility size, waiting areas, and pedestrian access, and incorporate bus berths and turnarounds into design.Local zoning and subdivision regulations, Local public works/engineering standards, D.O.T standards