National Academies Press: OpenBook

Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency (2018)

Chapter: Summary

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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25042.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25042.
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1 TCRP Project H-53, “Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency,” created two original tools for sustainability managers at transit agencies: • The Sustainability Routemap. An interactive PDF, similar in feel to a website, that guides the user to improve a transit agency’s sustainability program through application of change management principles, best practice examples, and references to online tools. A checklist of possible actions is included with the Routemap that will help users pri- oritize strategies and track progress. • The S+ROI Calculator. An Excel workbook that quantitatively evaluates potential sustain- ability projects in terms of financial, social, and environmental return. The workbook is accompanied by two completed examples. Both tools are available for download from TRB’s website at www.trb.org/Publications/ Blurbs/177296.aspx. Guidance for use of the tools is embedded in the tools themselves. This report tells the story of the project, from the initial problem statement through the design of the final tools. It serves as a case study in user-centered design as part of a Coop- erative Research Programs (CRP) project. It explains the design process and key decisions, as well as providing fodder for the design of future tools for sustainable transit agencies. Unique among CRP projects, this project did not start with a particular solution or tool in mind. Instead, the project team started with the need for transit agencies to have better tools generally. Researchers used a user-centered design process for guidance in addressing that need. User-centered design is distinguished by a core focus on a user’s needs and experiences with a tool. In a user-centered design process, the process cannot begin with the final output predetermined. A user-centered design process must start with research on user needs and must continually iterate to adjust outputs based on the feedback of users. Phase I: Inquiry From interviews with sustainability staff at transit agencies, the project team found that agencies had core needs in three areas: • Quantification. Transit agencies need tools to quantify and evaluate different sustain- ability strategies. • Governance. Transit agencies with mature sustainability programs need guidance on integrating sustainability throughout every area of their organization and culture, while those that are looking to grow their programs want to know what next steps should be and how they should measure their progress. • Communication. Staff often struggle to make the case for sustainability to decision makers, and transit agencies face challenges communicating their sustainability successes to the public. S U M M A R Y Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency

2 Tools for a Sustainable Transit agency Drilling down into these needs, the team identified 13 types of tools that they could feasibly build within this project to address one or more aspects of those needs. Through several iterations of visual thinking, design, and research into tool concepts, as well as con- sultation with the panel and other interested staff at transit agencies, researchers settled on the two tools to build: • The Sustainability Routemap • The S+ROI Calculator All of the other ideas for tools, including explanation of the need for the tool, the target audience for the tool, the basic form and functions of the tool, and uncertainties related to the development of the tool, are contained in the appendices to this report. Readers of this report may find ideas therein that could be built into other valuable tools. Phase II: Design For the two tools developed, the team followed the same basic development process: • Conceptual organizing framework. First, a conceptual organizing framework and land- ing page for the tool was developed. These provided an early means to communicate and refine the core concepts of the tool. • Working prototype. Second, a working prototype of each tool was developed. In the case of the Sustainability Routemap, developing a working prototype took much more effort. The project team went through many rounds of identification and prioritization of potential content and navigation schemes to arrive at a working prototype. • Prototype testing. Third, the prototypes were tested with target audiences. For the Sus- tainability Routemap, this process involved guided live testing with a usability expert. For the S+ROI Calculator, it involved distributing the Calculator to users to test on their own time and provide feedback. The live testing of the Routemap provided much more in-depth feedback, but both processes were valuable. • Final tool development. Fourth, the feedback received in testing was used to develop fully functional versions of both tools for review by the panel. The team made significant changes to the navigation structure of the Routemap in this phase. Phase III: Dissemination At the 2017 APTA Sustainability and Multimodal Planning Workshop in Minneapolis on Tuesday, August 8, the project team unveiled a sneak peek of both tools to work- shop participants. The team introduced both tools and provided a structured forum for participants to test and discuss the tools. Researchers left this workshop with feedback on the value of the tools and on ways that they could improve. Looking Ahead As creators of the Sustainability Routemap and the S+ROI Calculator, the project team already sees the possibility of continued improvement in version 2.0. The Routemap could have many more times the content that it does, and the Calculator could include many more algorithms to make providing inputs even simpler for users. What was accomplished with these two tools is a solid starting point for addressing those two needs identified. The project team sincerely hopes that users will find the tools compel- ling enough to invest in learning how to use them, to promote their use among peers, and to advocate for continual improvements.

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TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Research Report 197: Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency explores the development of practical tools for improving sustainability at transit agencies:

  • The Sustainability Routemap: An interactive PDF, similar to a website, that guides the user to improve a transit agency’s sustainability program through application of change management principles, best practice examples, and references to online tools.
  • The Sustainability Checklist
  • The S+ROI Calculator: An Excel workbook that quantitatively evaluates potential sustainability projects in terms of financial, social, and environmental returns.
  • The S+ROI Calculator BRT Example
  • The S+ROI Calculator Solar Panel Example

The tools are available to download as a .zip file.

Disclaimer - This software is offered as is, without warranty or promise of support of any kind either expressed or implied. Under no circumstance will the National Academy of Sciences or the Transportation Research Board (collectively "TRB") be liable for any loss or damage caused by the installation or operation of this product. TRB makes no representation or warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, in fact or in law, including without limitation, the warranty of merchantability or the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, and shall not in any case be liable for any consequential or special damages.

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