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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 4 ASSESSMENT The central task of this study was to provide a critical evaluation of the CMAQ program. The committee was charged to investigate whether projects funded under the program are effective and cost-effective, how they compare with alternative strategies for achieving the program’s air quality goals, and whether the program offers other benefits that cannot be quantified. The results of this assessment are described in this chapter. In the first section, what is known about the cost-effectiveness of CMAQ-eligible projects and alternative strategies for pollution reduction is reviewed; a discussion of how the results of this review should be interpreted is included. This section draws heavily on the two papers commissioned for this study—one that reviews the literature on the cost-effectiveness of transportation-related strategies eligible for CMAQ funding (Appendix E) and another that examines the literature on the cost-effectiveness of non-CMAQ-eligible control strategies, particularly new-vehicle emission and fuel standards (Appendix F). In the second section, an assessment of some of the more difficult-to-measure, qualitative outcomes of the program is presented, drawing primarily on the case studies and briefings provided to the committee. The chapter ends with a summary of key findings drawn from this assessment. COST-EFFECTIVENESS OF CMAQ PROJECTS AND ALTERNATIVE POLLUTION CONTROL STRATEGIES In theory, it would be desirable to examine both the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of projects funded under the CMAQ program. Effectiveness is a measure of the scale or magnitude of project
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 impacts, whereas cost-effectiveness is an efficiency measure that quantifies the cost of achieving a unit of project effectiveness.1 Measuring the relative effectiveness of actual CMAQ projects did not prove feasible. The available data on the effectiveness of CMAQ projects are location specific; project data are valid only for the particular context and strategy involved. Sufficient data were not available on the effectiveness of similar strategies in several regions, making it difficult to generalize from particular project results or to compare types of projects systematically. The committee decided to examine the literature for data on similar types of projects—primarily transportation control measures (TCMs)—and focused its review on project cost-effectiveness as requested in its charge. The committee selected cost per ton of emissions reduced as the primary cost-effectiveness measure by which to compare the pollution reduction potential of various strategies. The committee would have preferred as an effectiveness measure an indicator of the exposure of affected populations to various pollutant concentrations, and as a cost measure the total tangible and intangible costs to all segments of society, including both government agencies and users. A simple illustration explains why. Moving the position of exhaust stacks on public buses could reduce the exposure of affected populations, particularly those inside the bus, to particulate emissions, even though it would not change emission levels (Rodes et al. 1998). Thus, the project would show a positive impact if reducing exposure were used as the effectiveness measure, but it would have a neutral impact if reducing emissions were used. Unfortunately, the necessary data on neither exposure nor social costs were available. Moreover, the data on emissions were limited. Most of the studies report emission reductions for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides 1 Cost-effectiveness analysis should not be confused with cost-benefit analysis, which requires that all costs and benefits be measured in monetary units so that each strategy can be compared on its own merits (i.e., whether the benefits are in excess of the costs) to answer the question of whether this strategy is the most worthwhile (from an efficiency perspective) that could be undertaken. Cost-effectiveness analysis normalizes effectiveness data—costs are expressed per unit of effectiveness—so that projects can be ranked to show which provide the greatest return for the investment made. For a more complete discussion of these analysis techniques, see Levin (1993).
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 (NOx), but not for carbon monoxide (CO) or particulate matter (PM10). The inclusion of these pollutants could change the relative ranking of projects on cost-effectiveness, as discussed later in the chapter. In addition, most of the results of the project evaluations are based on modeled estimates of emission reductions instead of on reductions measured after project implementation. The literature was also examined for data on the cost-effectiveness of reducing congestion, using decreased hours of delay as a measure of effectiveness. However, the effects of CMAQ projects on travel delay have rarely been measured, so it was not possible to determine their cost-effectiveness in reducing congestion. CMAQ projects may have effects other than pollution and congestion reduction (e.g., mitigating adverse ecological effects of pollution, stimulating economic development), but a lack of well-developed performance measures and the data needed to quantify them precluded attempts to analyze such effects. Analysis Approach The papers commissioned for this study review the literature on the cost-effectiveness of a wide range of mobile source pollution control strategies (see Table 4-1). For CMAQ-eligible measures, the national CMAQ database was consulted to identify the primary strategies for which funds have been obligated over the life of the program. Particular attention was paid to transit and traffic flow improvement projects because the majority of CMAQ funds have been obligated in these two categories (see Chapter 3). Project subcategories were identified, and to the extent possible, similar strategies were grouped for analysis. The database was also explored as a source of information on the cost-effectiveness of CMAQ projects. As discussed earlier, states are required to report annually on the funds obligated and the estimated emissions reduced for each relevant pollutant for each CMAQ-funded project. However, given the lack of consistency in methods for estimating either project costs or emission reductions, the database was not deemed suitable for use in cost-effectiveness analyses.2 The non-CMAQ-eligible pollution control strategies reviewed were focused primarily on mobile source measures, mainly new-vehicle 2 See more detailed discussion in Appendix C.
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 TABLE 4-1 Mobile Source Pollution Control Strategies and Potential Impacts Analyzed for This Study Pollution Control Strategy Potential Impacts Travel Response Emission Reduction CMAQ-eligible Transit improvements Yes Yes Traffic flow improvements Yes Yes Ridesharing programs Yes Yes Travel demand management programs Yes Yes Telecommute/telework programs Yes Yes Bicycle and pedestrian improvements Yes Yes Vehicle inspection and maintenance programs No Yes Conventional- and alternative-fuel vehicle programsa No Yes Pricing measuresb Yes Yes Non-CMAQ-eligible New-vehicle emission standards No Yes Clean conventional and alternative fuels No Yes Vehicle scrappage programs No Yes Remote sensing No Yes a The purchase of publicly owned alternative-fuel vehicles and related fueling facilities and the incremental cost of upgrading privately owned vehicle fleets to alternative fuels are the only CMAQ-eligible expenditures in this category (FHWA 1999, 13). b Some pricing strategies are not CMAQ-eligible. emission and fuel standards.3 The cost-effectiveness of stationary source emission control measures, such as controls on electric power plants, was also reviewed in response to the congressional request. The committee recognized the need for as much consistency as possible between the two papers in the treatment of cost-effectiveness calculations. Thus, similar methods were adopted by the authors for addressing such issues as the handling of multiple pollutants and related weighting factors and the treatment of emissions and costs for multiyear projects. Several rounds of revisions were undertaken to make the methods as comparable as possible. Both authors were 3 There was a small overlap with the first commissioned paper, however, because two of the control strategies reviewed—inspection and maintenance (I&M) programs and alternative-fuel buses—are CMAQ-eligible.
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 also charged with discussing the sources and extent of uncertainty for each class of strategy reviewed. The methodological adjustments made are discussed in detail in the papers; only the highlights are mentioned here. One important issue is the selection of a baseline from which the emission reductions are estimated. For example, older studies that report on strategies designed to reduce hydrocarbons tend to show larger emission reductions because recent federal engine and fuel standards have greatly reduced emissions of these pollutants, as reflected in the lower emission rates of the current vehicle fleet. Combining the results of recent and more dated studies thus distorts cost-effectiveness estimates. The authors tried to minimize this problem by selecting more recent studies that cover roughly comparable time frames. Another important issue relates to the handling of multiple pollutants. Although some mobile source emission control measures are focused on a particular pollutant, many affect multiple pollutants. To improve comparability among control measures, the authors adopted a uniform approach for combining and weighting pollutants for which data were available—VOCs and NOx—in deriving a single cost-effectiveness estimate.4 Sensitivity analyses were then conducted using different weighting schemes to test the stability of the results. Virtually all the studies reviewed rely on emissions models or model inputs to estimate emission reductions.5 Although emissions models have been improved, they have generally tended to overestimate emission reductions. For example, a recent evaluation of inspection and maintenance (I&M) programs (NRC 2001) revealed that many of the programs have not been structured to meet their potential; the actual emission reductions attributable to them range from zero to about one-half of the reductions predicted 4 For the base case results, the pollutants were weighted as follows—VOCs (1) + NOx(4)—on the basis of a damage-value method, which assigns a weight to each pollutant depending on the estimated damage it inflicts on affected populations. Other weights were used for the sensitivity analysis. Further details on the weighting rationale are provided in the two papers. 5 They use either the Environmental Protection Agency’s Mobile Source Emissions Factor (MOBILE) model or the California alternative, the Emissions Factor (EMFAC) model of the California Air Resources Board.
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 by the models.6 There was no way of addressing the problem of uncertainties introduced by the models except to acknowledge them. The committee was aware of the shortcomings of cost-effectiveness analysis. Therefore, as discussed later in the chapter, its response to the congressional request for such an analysis includes explanations of the many uncertainties and qualifications associated with the results. Results Cost-Effectiveness of CMAQ-Eligible Strategies As noted earlier, the majority of CMAQ-eligible strategies reviewed for this study were TCMs, measures that affect vehicle emissions indirectly by changing travel behavior. The two exceptions are vehicle I&M programs and alternative-fuel vehicle projects.7 Both of these strategies affect vehicle emissions directly—the former through identification and repair of vehicles that do not meet a threshold level of emission control, and the latter through replacement of conventional-fuel vehicles with those burning cleaner fuels. Introduced in the early 1970s, TCMs include both supply-side strategies designed to improve traffic management and demand-side strategies intended to manage travel demand through such measures as encouraging higher vehicle occupancies; reducing trips and travel, at least during peak hours; and providing nonmotorized forms of transportation (Apogee Research, Inc. 1994, 1; Meyer 1999, 576). Unfortunately, the long history of TCM implementation is not matched by a strong track record of evaluating the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of the strategies employed. After considerable research in the late 1970s and early 1980s, little work was done until interest in TCMs as a way of controlling mobile source emissions was renewed by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA), the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), and the CMAQ program in particular (GAO 1993, 7). Since that time, 6 The revised figures were derived by employing in-use vehicle emission data from such sources as remote sensing, random roadside vehicle testing, and I&M emission testing (NRC 2001, 2). 7 The purchase of publicly owned alternative-fuel vehicles and related fueling facilities and the incremental cost of upgrading privately owned vehicle fleets to alternative fuels as part of a public–private partnership are all CMAQ-eligible (FHWA 1999, 13).
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 evaluation studies have been conducted, ranging from assessments of individual strategies to more comprehensive literature reviews, but the state of the art is not well suited to measuring the effects of TCMs, particularly those on emissions and air quality.8 With some exceptions, the effects of TCMs are highly localized; many tend to have modest impacts—on the order of 1 percent or less—when examined from a regional perspective or over long time periods (Cambridge Systematics, Inc. 2000, xx; Ferguson 2000, 288). Most analysis tools, such as travel demand models and emissions models, are not well suited to analysis of subregional effects (Ferguson 2000, 289). As a result, the imprecision of current models is apt to be larger than the effects of the TCMs they are used to estimate (Cambridge Systematics, Inc. 2000, xx).9 Finally, there has been little postimplementation evaluation of TCMs to ascertain whether model-predicted travel and emission effects have actually been realized. The studies selected for this review are recent and methodologically sound and have complete data; only a modest number of studies meet these criteria. The range of results, from the lowest to the highest cost per ton of emissions reduced as reported in the literature and adjusted by the author for consistency, is presented for each strategy in Figure 4-1 and Table 4-2. To make it possible for the cost-effectiveness information to be matched with program expenditures for each strategy, Table 4-2 also indicates the amount of CMAQ obligations expended to date for each strategy analyzed, drawing on data collected from the FHWA CMAQ database (see Appendix C) 8 See Ferguson (2000, Chapter 16) for a review of many key studies since 1978, and also the bibliography in Appendix E, which cites many of the more recent studies. 9 Difficulties involved in detecting the emissions effects of many TCMs also help explain why it was not possible for this study to take the next step of analyzing the ambient air quality effects of most TCMs. A recent review (Cambridge Systematics, Inc. 2000, xx) notes that control measures must reach a threshold level of emission reduction—generally greater than about 10 percent—before statistical approaches can successfully discern effects on ambient air quality levels, a threshold well beyond most CMAQ-eligible TCMs. In addition, even if controls meet the higher threshold, detecting the effects on secondary pollutants, such as ozone or fine particulates, is considerably more difficult than detecting changes in primary pollutants, such as CO.
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 FIGURE 4-1 Range of cost-effectiveness results (dollars per ton) for CMAQ-eligible strategies (in 2000$, VOC-equivalent emission reductions). Note: HOV = high-occupancy vehicle; TDM = travel demand management. (Source: Appendix E.)
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 TABLE 4-2 Summary of Cost-Effectiveness of CMAQ-Eligible Projects by Strategy (VOC-equivalent emission reductions) CMAQ Project Category Number of Projects Cost-per-Ton Range (2000$) Fiscal Year 1992–1999 CMAQ Obligations (%) Low High Traffic flow improvements 33.1 Traffic signalization 5 6,000 128,000 8.5 Freeway/incident management 4 2,300 544,000 8.1 HOV facilities 2 15,700 337,000 4.6 Intersections, traveler info., other 0 NA NA 11.9 Ridesharing 3.8 Regional rideshare 5 1,200 16,000 Vanpool programs 6 5,200 89,000 Park-and-ride lots 4 8,600 70,700 1.4 Travel demand management 2.9 Regional TDM 8 2,300 33,200 2.1 Employer trip reduction programs 7 5,800 176,000 0.8 Telework 10 13,300 8,230,000 0.0 Bicycle/pedestrian 14 4,200 345,000 3.2 Transit improvements 28.3 Shuttles, feeders, paratransit 15 12,300 1,970,000 7.4 New capital systems/vehicles 6 8,500 471,000 12.0 Conventional service upgrades 10 3,800 120,000 7.4 Park-and-ride lots 1 56,000 56,000 1.5 Fuels and technology 20.6 Conventional-fuel bus replacementsa 5 11,000 39,900 12.7 Alternative-fuel busesb 11 6,700 569,000 3.1 Alternative-fuel vehiclesc 2 4,000 31,600 0.6 Inspection and maintenanced 5 1,800 5,800 4.2 Other 2.8 Rail freight 0 NA NA 0.4 Paving and sweeping (PM) 0 NA NA 0.9 All other improvements 0 NA NA 1.5 STP/CMAQe 5.4 Pricing 0.0 Subsidies and discounts 14 800 471,000 0.0 Charges and fees 6 800 49,400 0.0 Total 100.0 Note: The following pollutant weighting scheme was assumed: 1:4 for VOC:NOx. NA = not available; HOV = high-occupancy vehicle; TDM = travel demand management. a Replacement of diesel buses with newer-vintage diesel buses. b Replacement of diesel buses with alternative-fuel buses. c Non-transit-vehicle fleet conversions to alternative fuels. d A recent report (NRC 2001) reveals that the actual effectiveness of many I&M programs fell short of model predictions. e CMAQ funds that can be used for either CMAQ or Surface Transportation Program projects; project categories are undefined. Source: Appendix E.
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 from the inception of the program to fiscal year 1999, the most recent year for which national data were available. Table 4-3 displays the results by cost-per-ton increments to illustrate the dispersion (or concentration) of results by strategy. Using a threshold of approximately $10,000 per ton of emissions reduced10—the cutoff point used for selecting control measures under many regulatory approaches to emission reductions (E. H. Pechan and Associates 1997)—results for only one of the 19 strategies reviewed—I&M—lie entirely below the $10,000-per-ton cutoff (see Figure 4-1).11 Half or more of the results lie below the $10,000-per-ton cutoff or are fairly concentrated (i.e., less than $50,000 per ton) (see Table 4-3) for the following five strategies: Regional ridesharing programs (areawide programs that provide information, promotion, and assistance in matching potential car poolers);12 Regional travel demand management programs (areawide programs that are generally aimed at commute travel);13 Replacement of conventional-fuel buses; Alternative-fuel vehicle programs (e.g., conversion of public and private nontransit vehicle fleets to alternative fuels); and Charges and fees (e.g., workplace parking fees, mileage fees, congestion pricing).14 10 The $10,000-per-ton threshold should not be interpreted as a valid absolute cutoff point for cost-effectiveness comparisons. Thresholds for cost-effectiveness depend on the severity of the nonattainment problem and the pollutant(s) of concern. The $10,000-per-ton threshold, which has been used in many regulatory analyses, is used here primarily as a necessary simplification to compare the relative cost-effectiveness of CMAQ-eligible and non-CMAQ-eligible control measures. 11 A recent study (NRC 2001), however, has shown that many current I&M programs do not achieve their potential. Modeled estimates of program effectiveness have tended to overstate potential emission reductions when compared with results from implemented programs. 12 This is one of the few strategies for which estimates of cost-effectiveness are derived from empirical data, not solely from model predictions of travel behavior. 13 This category covers a wide range of measures. One of the initiatives studied involved an effort by a regional transit agency to engage employers in selling and distributing transit passes. 14 Only some of these measures are currently in use and eligible for CMAQ funding.
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 TABLE 4-3 Number of CMAQ Project Examples by Project Category and Cost-Effectiveness Level Project Category Cost per Ton (2000$, VOC-equivalent emission reductions) Total <10,000 $10,000–$19,999 $20,000–$29,999 $30,000–$39,999 $40,000–$49,999 $50,000–$59,999 $60,000–$69,999 $70,000–$99,000 $100,000–$249,999 $250,000+ Traffic signalization 2 2 1 5 Freeway/incident management 2 1 1 4 HOV facilities 1 1 2 Regional rideshare 3 2 5 Vanpool programs 2 2 1 1 6 Park-and-ride lots 1 1 1 1 4 Regional TDM 4 1 2 1 8 Employer trip reduction programs 1 2 1 1 1 1 7 Telework 1 1 3 5 10 Bicycle/pedestrian 1 1 1 2 5 2 2 14 Shuttles, feeders, paratransit 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 6 15 New capital systems/vehicles 1 1 1 2 1 6 Conventional service upgrades 1 2 4 1 1 1 10 Alternative-fuel buses 3 1 1 2 4 11 Conventional-fuel bus replacements 3 1 1 5 Alternative-fuel vehicles 1 1 2 Inspection and maintenance 5 5 Subsidies and discounts 5 1 1 1 2 3 1 14 Charges and fees 3 1 1 1 6 Total 36 18 15 8 4 4 5 11 17 21 139 Percent 26 13 11 6 3 3 4 8 12 15 100 Note: The following pollutant weighting scheme was assumed: 1:4 for VOC:NOx HOV = high-occupancy vehicle; TDM = travel demand management. Source: Appendix E.
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 BOX 4-1. CMAQ Success Stories Suburban Transit: Lake Cook (Chicago) Shuttle Bug Shuttle Bug service was started in 1996 as a CMAQ demonstration project. The Transportation Management Association of Lake Cook, representing several major area employers, acted as a catalyst for establishing a free shuttle service to connect commuters from a new commuter rail train station to a major suburban center with some 30,000 employees along a 6-mile corridor on Lake Cook Road (EPA 1999, 23–24). Riders who commute out of Chicago were targeted, but significant ridership also comes from suburban residents. CMAQ funds were used to defray the cost of operating the shuttles, with additional support provided by employer contributions and Metra, the Chicago region’s commuter rail service provider. Pace, which is responsible for Chicago’s suburban bus service, operates the Shuttle Bug. Demand for the shuttle service has grown steadily—from 110 trips per day in 1996 to more than 800 daily trips in 2001; buses have replaced vans (Jackson and Murtha 2001, 5–6). The most recent survey of users indicated that prior to the shuttle service, approximately 55 percent of users drove alone to work. Thus, an estimated 2.7 tons of VOCs has been eliminated through a reduction of 1.8 million vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) each year (Jackson and Murtha 2001, 20). Preliminary estimates of project costs relative to pollution reduction benefits alone are high (between $165,000 and $200,000 per ton of VOCs eliminated), but continuing ridership gains and calculation of other uncounted benefits (e.g., congestion reduction) should improve this performance. Encouraging Transit Use on High-Ozone Days: Clean Air Action Program, Houston The Clean Air Action Program, sponsored by the Houston– Galveston Area Council and the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), is designed to educate the public
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 about the region’s ozone problem and encourage voluntary actions to reduce motor vehicle emissions through proper vehicle maintenance, reduced vehicle trips, and combining of trips (EPA 1999, 7–8). One of the most successful elements of the program is the “August Is Clean Air Month” transit fare subsidy campaign. CMAQ funds were used in 1997 through 1999 to subsidize transit fares by 50 percent during August, which typically has the highest number of ozone exceedance days. An evaluation of the program by METRO revealed that 13 percent of the 36 percent increase in transit ridership over the 3-year period could be attributed to the program, although the evaluation showed diminishing returns in the third year (METRO 2000, 1). One of the benefits of the program has been an increase in year-round ridership, resulting in an estimated annual reduction of 27 million VMT (assuming 50 percent retention of August ridership) and elimination of 18 tons of VOCs annually (EPA 1999, 8; METRO 2000, 16). Program costs are high [nearly $300,00 per ton of VOCs eliminated (EPA 1999, 8)], but do not include the benefits of increased transit ridership and reduced highway congestion. Commuter Connections Employer Outreach Program: Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area The Washington, D.C., region’s Commuter Connections program was developed to reduce drive-alone commuter travel. It includes a telework resources center, a guaranteed ride home and ride matching services, and an employer outreach program. With the help of CMAQ funds, the program now includes a dedicated sales force that promotes transportation demand strategies directly to region employers (EPA 1999, 11–12). Employers can access Commuter Connection services by simply dialing an easy-to-remember 800 number. In 1997, the first year of operations, the program resulted in 15 employers establishing new
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 transit benefit programs (i.e., subsidized transit passes for employees), 12 commuter information displays at employer work sites, and 43 on-site commuter information fairs. An evaluation of the employer outreach program from 1997 through mid-1999 showed 415 participating employers with estimated daily trip reductions of 7300 and daily VMT reductions of 90,000 attributable to the outreach effort (Ramfos et al. 1999, 21). Together these reductions were estimated to have eliminated 23 tons of VOCs and 39 tons of NOX annually at a cost of approximately $18,000 per ton of VOCs eliminated, not counting the benefits of NOX reductions or other nonenvironmental benefits (e.g., congestion reduction) (Ramfos et al. 1999, 21). TranStar: Houston’s Traffic Control and Incident Management Center Local agencies in the Houston area combined resources to open a TranStar Management Center in 1996 to manage Houston’s highly congested freeway traffic using the latest transportation management technologies. Under a single roof and a unified management structure, the city of Houston, Harris County, the Metropolitan Transit Agency, the Texas Department of Transportation, and law enforcement authorities monitor traffic conditions in real time, detect incidents, and coordinate rapid response to traffic crashes and vehicle breakdowns (FHWA 1996, 18–19). Funded originally as part of an intelligent transportation system demonstration corridor, the center recently sought CMAQ funds to finance projects that benefit multiple agencies; the local match is provided by contributions from agency members. For example, CMAQ funding was used to fund the TranStar computer facility. Cost-effectiveness estimates are not available, but response time to incidents by authorities has been reduced by one-third, resulting in more rapid clearance of incidents, reducing congestion, and enabling motorists to maintain higher and more constant travel speeds (FHWA 1996, 18).
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 The high risk of failure inherent in any innovation and the lack of experience of many project sponsors in implementing federally assisted projects were cited as the primary reasons for the relatively low success rate (Jackson and Murtha 2001, 2). Nevertheless, local agency staff noted that both failures and successes add to the body of knowledge about which strategies work better and why (Jackson and Murtha 2001, 2). Public–private partnerships, encouraged by the program, were evident in many of the case study sites. For example, in Southern California, the San Bernardino Associated Governments is working with a private utility in a pilot project to convert forklifts to clean-fuel operation. The Riverside County Transportation Commission was also engaged with a private utility, California Edison, to electrify truck stops to eliminate idling emissions, but the project was canceled because of the energy crisis in California. The Ventura County Transportation Commission is working with the Southern California Gas Company to provide compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling facilities to ensure long-term fueling capabilities and price stability for local CNG transit buses and other vehicles. In Chicago, the CMAQ program is supporting a partnership between the City of Chicago and the Wendella Sightseeing Company, Inc., to improve ferry service along the Chicago River to better serve commuter rail lines (see Box 4-2). As with demonstration projects, however, these arrangements can pose large administrative burdens on the public partner, particularly when they include not-for-profit agencies or private-sector partners that have little experience with regulations and requirements of federal programs. Moreover, because these projects are often one-of-a-kind, they can require the development of new or modified administrative procedures, a time-consuming process for the lead public agency. For example, the Wendella Boat project required a special ordinance between the city and the boat company authorizing the execution of the CMAQ grant agreement, which resulted in a significant delay in the project (Poska et al. 2001, 13). Many of those interviewed noted the lack of ex-post project evaluations as an important program weakness. They stressed that the focus should be not on individual project assessments, such as the effects of a single traffic signalization improvement, but on how
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 BOX 4-2. Wendella RiverBus Service, Chicago Wendella Boats has operated a commuter ferry service along the Chicago River since 1962. In 1999 the Chicago Area Transportation Study, the metropolitan planning organization for the Chicago region, conducted a survey to determine whether the service was eligible to receive CMAQ funds for the purchase of additional boats to improve commuter service. The RiverBus operates from April to early November on docks along the Chicago River, strategically located to efficiently serve many Metra commuter rail customers. For example, the Madison Street dock is one block from the Ogilvie Transportation Center, which serves Union Pacific rail lines, and is linked to the dock by an enclosed pedestrianway (Poska et al. 2001, 2, 5). The survey revealed that the vast majority of RiverBus users are Metra riders, who were diverted from either taxi service or a commute by passenger vehicle because of the ferry service (Poska et al. 2001, 6, 8). A small but positive effect on reducing VMT and vehicle emissions was identified, signaling the go-ahead for the city to engage in a contractual arrangement with the boat service. The cost per ton of VOCs eliminated over the 20-year life of the project was estimated at $16,850 (Poska et al. 2001, 13). groups of similar projects affect the system. Suggestions for encouraging more evaluation ranged from a federal set-aside of CMAQ funds for evaluation activities (although many did not want to see funds taken away from projects) to a more active federal role in project evaluation and sharing of best practices (e.g., using samples of similar projects across nonattainment areas to analyze which projects are most effective and most cost-effective and which factors most influence these outcomes). Another important program weakness from the local perspective is the lack of provision for operation and maintenance of new CMAQ-funded facilities and services. Several of those interviewed
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 thought the CMAQ program encourages short-term solutions. In their view, CMAQ provides startup funds for new facilities, equipment, and services, but leaves local governments with the burden of financing equipment replacement and operating expenses because of program restrictions on funding for operations.27 Suggested changes ranged from relaxing the current 3-year limit for most projects to enable local areas to locate alternative funding sources, to doing away with the restrictions altogether. Future Program Scope and Activities A broad range of regional transportation planners, operating agency staff, air quality officials, and interest groups who were interviewed for the case studies or briefed the committee at its meetings supported reauthorization of the CMAQ program. This is not surprising because the program offers local agencies a targeted source of federal funds to address the stringent CAAA requirements in areas with poor air quality. However, program funding is modest by transportation standards, and some regions have a backlog of unfunded projects. Thus, many respondents were hesitant about the advisability of broadening the scope of the program to cover additional pollutants unless funding levels are also expanded. They suggested that the focus should be on making the current program better. Those interviewed in Chicago perhaps expressed the reservation best: “We barely understand VOCs; we need to stay focused.” Others thought the program should keep pace with whatever pollutants come to be regulated, even if this means spreading the funds more widely as new regions become noncompliant. They also recommended that newly regulated pollutants be added to the CMAQ apportionment formula as a basis for future allocation of funds. Despite the flexibility of the current program, there were numerous suggestions for expanding project eligibility—too numerous to catalogue fully here. Those who were favorably disposed toward expanding the scope of the program to include other pollutants had 27 Some urban transit operators made the further point that projects that support existing transit services and ridership should be an eligible expenditure. In their view, restricting funds to new transit services and operations prejudices the program in favor of suburban areas.
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 several suggestions for new activities. For example, some suggested that as greater attention is focused on fine particulates and air toxics, such as those from diesel fuel, projects directed toward emissions of heavy-duty vehicles and even off-road vehicles should be made eligible because these vehicles are large contributors to pollution from these sources. Others went a step further and recommended that any project that can demonstrate the potential to reduce mobile source emissions should be eligible. The other most frequently suggested area for expanding project eligibility was land use. Smart-growth measures (e.g., sidewalks and other pedestrian-friendly strategies) were among those most frequently mentioned. COMMITTEE ASSESSMENT AND FINDINGS In this chapter, the available evidence has been assembled to address the key evaluation issues raised in the committee’s charge. Early in its review, the committee concluded that it could not provide a scientifically grounded, quantitative evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of the CMAQ program as a whole at the national level. Program funds represent a relatively small fraction of any given region’s transportation budget, and they are often broadly distributed within an area for diverse projects. In the spirit of ISTEA and TEA-21, decisions about project spending priorities have been devolved to the states, and within the states to local agencies in nonattainment and maintenance areas. The regional and sometimes more localized character of pollution and congestion problems means that regions differ in their spending priorities and selection of individual strategies. Thus, it is more sensible and feasible to evaluate individual strategies funded by the program as they have been implemented in different regions. Two in-depth literature reviews were commissioned to examine the effectiveness of strategies similar to those funded by the program in relation to their cost and to other strategies for achieving the CMAQ program goals. The limited available evidence presented in these papers suggests that, when compared on the sole criterion of emissions reduced per dollar spent, strategies aimed directly at emission reductions (e.g., new-vehicle emission and fuel standards, well-structured I&M programs, remote sensing programs, vehicle scrap-
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 page programs)—some of which are eligible for CMAQ funding, but most of which are not—generally have been more successful in reducing emissions than most CMAQ-eligible TCMs that rely on changes in travel behavior.28 The committee agreed with this finding, but found the evidence inadequate to address fully the questions posed under its charge. First, nearly all the results are based on modeled estimates and thus are susceptible to modeling uncertainties. The results for I&M programs illustrate the problem. Modeled results show I&M as a highly cost-effective strategy, but a recent study (NRC 2001) revealed that the emission benefits are overestimated for many I&M programs. TCMs are particularly affected by modeling uncertainties because travel behavior as well as vehicle emissions must be estimated, and the available models are not suited to analyzing small-scale projects typical of many TCMs. Second, emission data were available only for VOCs and NOx; if data on particulates had been available, the ranking of projects that address particulates (e.g., alternative-fuel buses) would likely have been higher. Third, as the wide range of TCM cost-effectiveness results shows, the performance of individual strategies is context specific even for projects in the same category. Fourth, many TCMs have benefits other than emission reductions (e.g., congestion mitigation), which were not captured in the analyses. Finally, several of the most cost-effective strategies have been implemented, but nonattainment areas still require additional emission reductions to reach or stay in conformity. Thus, TCMs are likely to be employed in meeting the next round of required reductions even if they are less cost-effective than other strategies. For all these reasons, the committee concluded that the evidence on project cost-effectiveness was not sufficient for a definitive evaluation of the program. The strongest evidence for the program is qualitative. The information gathered by the committee during the site visits and the briefings conducted for this study offered strong support for continuation of the program. First, the CMAQ program helps fund the 28 The necessary data were simply not available to investigate how well the program is meeting its other goal of congestion mitigation.
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 strict mandates and regulations required of nonattainment areas by the 1990 CAAA. The committee supports funding of federal mandates and recognizes the CMAQ program as the only transportation program explicitly targeted to meeting the transportation-related air quality goals of the CAAA. Second, the committee sees value in a program limited to expenditures on projects with demonstrable potential air quality benefits. If CMAQ projects had to compete with the large backlog of infrastructure preservation projects in most large metropolitan areas, the air quality focus of these funds likely would not be a priority. Third, the program provides an incentive to encourage nontraditional approaches to solving air quality and congestion problems. By focusing on new facilities and services and providing funds for projects that have limited alternative funding sources, the program has enabled areas to experiment with what they believe are innovative strategies. The fact that these projects are not numerous and are often small should not be surprising. By its nature, innovation is risky, with high failure rates, and thus only a limited number of such projects can be undertaken at any given time. Finally, the CMAQ program gives local areas great flexibility in tailoring funds to projects that address specific air quality and congestion problems. Deployed in this way, CMAQ funds can also foster interagency cooperation and encourage participation of new groups in project planning and selection—all desirable outcomes. On the basis of the evidence just described, the committee concludes that the program should be reauthorized, but several modifications are in order. First, a more strategic approach may be needed in some nonattainment areas to link CMAQ-funded projects more closely to local air quality and congestion problems, and to identify measurable objectives so that project performance can be monitored more closely and strategies altered as new information becomes available. Second, project cost-effectiveness could be enhanced if the program recognized emerging knowledge about the health hazards of various pollutants (e.g., particulates) and directed more funds toward these problems (e.g., heavy-duty vehicle projects). Finally, perhaps the greatest potential benefit of the CMAQ program is the development of new strategies for pollution reduction. However, this benefit is now mostly lost because there is no reliable way to tell how
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 successful different strategies are and no mechanism for sharing the information among program recipients. The committee believes more extensive evaluation, at both the local and national levels, should be undertaken, using CMAQ funds to help ensure that the wealth of accumulated experience can be examined and shared more systematically in the future. REFERENCES Abbreviations EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency FHWA Federal Highway Administration GAO General Accounting Office METRO Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County NRC National Research Council TRB Transportation Research Board Apogee Research, Inc. 1994. Costs and Effectiveness of Transportation Control Measures (TCMs): A Review and Analysis of the Literature. Bethesda, Md., Jan. Cambridge Systematics, Inc. 2000. Quantifying Air Quality and Other Benefits and Costs of Transportation Control Measures. Final Report. NCHRP Project 8-33. Dec. E. H. Pechan and Associates. 1997. Additional Control Measure Evaluation for the Integrated Implementation of the Ozone and Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards and Regional Haze Program. Prepared for the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, N.C., July 17. EPA. 1997a. Regulatory Impact Analyses for the Particulate Matter and Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards and Proposed Regional Haze Rule. EPAOAQ 0041187. Innovative Strategies and Economics Group, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Research Triangle Park, N.C., July 16. EPA. 1997b. Regulatory Impact Analyses for the Particulate Matter and Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards and Proposed Regional Haze Rule, Appendix A: Emissions and Air Quality. EPAOAQ 0041605. Innovative Strategies and Economics Group, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Research Triangle Park, N.C., July 16. EPA. 1999. Creating Transportation Choices: Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program Success Stories. EPA-420-K-99-001. Aug. Farrell, D., W. Harrington, and A. J. Krupnick. 1998. Evaluation of CMAQ Projects. Discussion Paper 98-18. Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C., Feb.
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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience - Special Report 264 Ferguson, E. 2000. Travel Demand Management and Public Policy. Ashgate Publishing Co., Burlington, Vt. FHWA. 1996. Innovations in Transportation and Air Quality: Twelve Exemplary Projects. FHWA-PD-96-016. U.S. Department of Transportation. FHWA. 1999. The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program Under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21): Program Guidance. U.S. Department of Transportation, April. GAO. 1993. Urban Transportation: Reducing Vehicle Emissions with TCMs. GAO/RCED-93-169, Washington, D.C., Aug. Jackson, T., and T. Murtha. 2001. A Synopsis of CMAQ Demonstration Projects. Working Paper 01-10. Chicago Area Transportation Study, May. Johnston, R. A., and C. Rodier. 1997. A Comparative Systems-Level Analysis: Automated Freeways, HOV Lanes, Transit Expansion, Pricing Policies, and Land Use Intensification. California PATH Research Report, April. Levin, H. M. 1993. Cost-Effectiveness: A Primer. Sage Publications, Newbury Park, Calif. METRO. 2000. 1999 Clean Air Month Transit Fare Subsidy Evaluation. Houston, Tex. Meyer, M. D. 1999. Demand Management as an Element of Transportation Policy: Using Carrots and Sticks to Influence Travel Behavior. Transportation Research A, Vol. 33, No. 7/8, Sept./Nov., pp. 575–599. NRC. 2001. Evaluating Vehicle Emissions Inspection and Maintenance Programs. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. Poska, S., T. Jackson, and T. Murtha. 2001. Wendella River Bus Service Analysis. Working Paper 01-16. Chicago Area Transportation Study, Chicago, Ill., Aug. Ramfos, N., D. Sivasailam, and L. Diggins. 1999. Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Commuter Connections Program Transportation Emission Reduction Measure (TERM) Analysis Report. LDA Consulting, Redondo Beach, Calif., Sept. 15. Rodes, C. E., L. Sheldon, D. Whitaker, A. Clayton, K. Fitzgerald, J. Flanagan, F. DiGenova, S. Hering, and C. Frazier. 1998. Measuring Concentrations of Selected Air Pollutants Inside California Vehicles. Final Report. No. 95-339. California Air Resources Board, Sacramento, Calif. TRB. 1995. Special Report 245: Expanding Metropolitan Highways: Implications for Air Quality and Energy Use. National Research Council, Washington, D.C.
Representative terms from entire chapter: