Global Street Design Guide

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Table of Contents

Global Street Design Guide

From small collective vehicles to fixed-route bus and rail services, collective transport (or transit) offers a sustainable and efficient way to move people in an urban setting. Transit is complementary to walking and cycling, allowing mass mobility for longer trips without mass use or ownership of private vehicles.
Transit systems are inherently tied to land use and density. Specific challenges and opportunities for the creation or the improvement of transit systems will vary greatly with context and local financial investments.
While equitable provision of transit is not easy, it is key to the development of a sustainable city.

Dedicate space to collective transport to facilitate safe, reliable, and frequent transit service. Exclusive at-grade facilities within the street increase the overall efficiency and capacity of the systems by reducing delays caused by mixed traffic operation. This can be very cost-effective, especially if compared to elevated or underground facilities.
Improved on-street transit infrastructure needs to be complemented with sufficiently updated transit vehicles and vice versa.
As collective transport services increase reliability and ridership, they attract new activities and street vitality. This requires careful design and operation decisions to maintain transit movement in a pedestrian-friendly and safe environment for all users.

Providing dedicated space within the street helps transit networks to provide reliable, convenient, and frequent service to passengers without delays from mixed traffic, while increasing the mobility capacity and environmental sustainability of the city.



Transit travel time is affected by the type of transit facility, whether exclusive, dedicated, or mixed. It is also impacted by the travel lane width, enforcement, signal priority, and the type of service and vehicle. The same service may have different transit facilities along the same corridor, according to the context, mix of uses, or street width.

Maximum speeds for transit vehicles should be determined based on safety needs and the street context. In urban streets, speeds should not exceed 40 km/h, and in central city or neighborhood streets where there are high volumes of pedestrians or other users, maximum speeds should be 15–20 km/h. Dedicated facilities help transit speeds to be maintained efficiently by avoiding congestion in mixed traffic. In shared transit streets with people walking in the same roadbed as transit vehicles, speeds should be as low as 10 km/h.


Vehicles used for collective transit vary by capacity, comfort, speed, and cost, but they can all contribute to creating comprehensive networks. The choice of vehicles in the system will impact the level of carbon emissions, air quality, ride quality, and noise levels for residents along designated routes. Vehicle choice should be driven by these issues as well as passenger capacity and comfort, operating expenses, and sustainability.

Small Collective Transport Services

Small collective transport vehicles are a common form of low-cost transportation around the world. It generally involves the use of small-sized vehicles for shared passenger transport. Small collective transport services develop in varying degrees of

formality and are closely responsive to demand. These services often provide critical access where mass transit does not exist. While they do not have dedicated travel lanes, streets should include spaces for stops, boarding, and transfers.

Bus Services

Fixed route local buses are the foundation of urban transit, and are the mode most frequently missing in cities with an informal transport sector. Vehicles vary from standard buses to larger, articulated buses and can run on local or express routes and schedules. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a particular

type of high-capacity, limited-stop service, running on exclusive infrastructures called transitways. BRT systems include stations, off-board fare collection, and longer stop spacing than local buses. They employ high-capacity vehicles such articulated or bi-articulated buses.

Urban Rail Services

Like buses, rail services can be used in the full spectrum of urban contexts. Urban rail services such as trams and streetcars run at grade on the street, either in mixed traffic or in separate lanes. Light Rail Transit (LRT) and modern tramways

are used for high-capacity transit and employ dedicated facilities. While rail services operate at slower speeds in urban streets, they improve public space quality and can be organized as part of a network, operating at different speeds in different contexts.

Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.

Transit Networks

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Transit Networks