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5 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION The purpose of this synthesis is to examine and document the consequences make transit service less attractive and result in current state of the practice in transit asset management for the lower use of transit services by potential passengers. transit agencies and other stakeholders. Transit asset manage- ment is defined as a strategic planning process that supports informed capital investment planning and programming. It is PROJECT OBJECTIVE said that "good" transit asset management can provide critical support in two key areas: The focus of this TCRP synthesis project is to document the state of current asset management system practices. The Establishing the level of need for infrastructure invest- project addresses transit asset condition inventorying and ments. A comprehensive analysis of infrastructure condition tracking and the use of the resulting data to guide needs can produce an estimate of the funding needed to short-term (5-year) priority-setting and budgeting, and long- address: (1) ongoing asset replacement and rehabilita- term (10- to 20-year) investment strategies. tion needs, and (2) past unfunded infrastructure needs (often termed backlog needs). This funding estimate and The project objective is to provide transit agencies and supporting documentation can provide a compelling their federal, state, and local funding partners a review of the argument and support for increased funding. state of the practice of current asset management system prac- Programming of cost-effective investments. A systematic tices. It is hoped that this review will encourage an industry- approach that is based on good quality data and clear wide discussion on the standards and data needed to measure organizational objectives can help prioritize the program- asset conditions and the use of this information for making ming of investment projects when available funding is effective investment decisions. Improving the understanding constrained and not sufficient to support the implementa- of infrastructure conditions can support the articulation of a tion of all needed projects. The use of this approach will compelling argument for increased funding and systematic help maximize the effectiveness of local, state, and fed- management of investments. eral funding investments. The condition of public transit infrastructure is a current PROJECT SCOPE and important national topic. Much has been written about the importance of maintaining the nation's bus and rail systems in The scope of this synthesis project was designed to obtain a "State of Good Repair" (SGR). A 2008 FTA report, Transit information on current transit asset management system prac- State of Good Repair--Beginning the Dialogue, estimated tices using three different information collection approaches: that approximately 25% of public transit infrastructure is in marginal or poor condition. This report suggests that this 1. A literature review, decline is because nationally current infrastructure funding 2. An industry survey, and is inadequate and is estimated to address 60% to 80% of what 3. Case studies of innovative practices at local transit is required to provide for ongoing replacement needs and to authorities. eliminate the backlog of past unfunded infrastructure needs. The objective of the literature review was to identify key The underinvestment in public transit infrastructure has publications that described current transit management prac- significant consequences. Operating costs are higher because tices in the transit industry. The transit industry not only of the increased costs of maintaining assets that are required includes transit agencies, but also their local, state, and federal to perform beyond their useful lives. Service reliability suf- funding partners. These partners also have the need to employ fers as more buses and rail cars break down in service. The good transit asset management systems to monitor the impacts quality and appearance of passenger amenities declines as sta- of their funding investments in local transit agencies and to tions and shelters age and escalators have more frequent fail- report these findings to their senior managers and political ures. In addition, public safety becomes a greater concern leaders. It was hoped that the literature review would identify when aging assets fail at critical times, such as the recent acci- innovative practices that had potential or were beginning to be dents in Boston and Chicago demonstrate. Ultimately, these adopted by transit agencies.