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Influencing Goal Realization Overcoming a Focus on Highways Given the limited role most state DOTs have in A recurring theme the research revealed was that providing transit service, DOTs often have little in- state DOTs are reluctant to set statewide transit goals fluence in affecting the realization of statewide tran- because they do not directly operate transit. Instead, sit goals. Caltrans expects that the outcome of their their focus is on highways--planning, building, oper- goal setting process will be a set of goals that indi- ating, and maintaining them. This is their area of ex- vidual operators can choose from to use for their in- pertise and often they feel ill-equipped to set transit dividual transit systems and less a set of statewide goals. From more than one survey respondent and in- goals that will inform state transit policy. Caltrans terviewee, the research team heard that, because most plays more a customer service role with regard to funding went to highways, so did their planning focus. transit than that of a regulator or funding distributor, Moreover, because they had limited involvement with because of the state's heavy focus on having local transit providers, they had little comfort in setting control. Caltrans focuses its transit planning on in- statewide goals for providers. To meet this challenge, terregional trips and on making a planning document state DOTs have taken different approaches. One as useful as possible to transit providers and regional survey respondent indicated their state DOT recently planning agencies. As in other states, statewide tran- mandated the creation of a transit division, separate sit goals in California are expected to help guide the from the department's broader planning work, solely allocation of what limited funds the state DOT does to consider transit issues and engage providers. This control. example is similar to what the research team heard in Virginia, where the state created a separate Depart- Public Accountability ment of Rail and Public Transportation in 1992. Both Often as part of a larger focus on performance- Virginia DRPT and Virginia DOT are overseen by the based planning, many DOTs consider their goals to State Secretary of Transportation and the Common- be part of being accountable to the public. By set- wealth Transportation Board. The two departments ting goals, linking them to performance measures, work jointly to develop the LRSTP. and then reporting on those measures regularly, the Of those DOTs currently developing transit goals, intention is to demonstrate what the DOT, and the some of the reasons the research team heard in- state and transit operators more broadly, are doing cluded an increasing interest in transit--on the part to advance public transit. The accountability gener- of stakeholders or the legislature. This interest is ally comes in the form of public information, and mostly a result of increases in transit service and less frequently in the form of repercussions for funding. In California, the increasing emphasis on under-performing systems. Public reporting can transit statewide comes in part from the state's ef- also validate state support for transit. In the case of forts to address climate change and greenhouse gas Minnesota, the original statewide goal of transit ser- emissions. The result has been that Caltrans, tradi- vice in every county provided an easy measure that tionally seen as very highway-centric, is now trying could be used to rally legislative support for addi- to build stronger relationships with transit providers. tional transit funding. In Oregon, the state's very In developing its new transit plan, Caltrans is trying to specific quantifiable targets associated with their make it a document with both state and local owner- transit goals (e.g., "increase per capita transit hours ship, so it is taking a participatory, consensus-building in MPO areas from 0.96 to 1.7 hours per capita by approach that reaches out to as many transit agencies 2010") have helped to create an expectation that as possible. people could call attention to when looking to in- crease transit service (Oregon Department of Trans- portation, 1997). Linking Transit Goals to Funding Decisions The research indicates it is as yet unclear to many the effect that statewide transit goals have on CHAPTER 4 CONTINUED CHALLENGES agency investment decision-making. When the re- State DOTs continue to face challenges in terms search team's survey asked how transit goals are used, of setting statewide transit goals. The discussion many respondents indicated that they were guiding or below addresses some of these challenges. supporting state transit investments or funding deci- 14