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6 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency Figure 1. Process for identifying needs and proposing tools. Figure 2. Size and sustainability program status of the transit agencies interviewed.
User-Centered Design Process 7 Interview Findings From the interviews, researchers found the following: â¢ Sustainability programs are in different stages of development. Some transit agencies have done more than others, but no one interviewed felt like their transit agency had sustainability completely figured out. â¢ Sustainability strategies range widely, and can include greening major capital projects, internal sustainability efforts focused on transit agenciesâ facilities and operations, formal sustainability policies and programs, and setting targets and collecting data. â¢ Most sustainability programs focus on environmental sustainability, though staff under- stand sustainability has environmental, economic, and social dimensions. â¢ Many transit agencies are interested in communicating the broader sustainability benefits of transit, which can reduce driving and anchor compact neighborhoods. â¢ Sustainability programs are usually driven at the staff level rather than the leadership level. â¢ Sustainability staff use a hodgepodge of tools and frameworks to set targets and track progress. Additional detail on the interview process and findings can be found in Appendix D of this report. Identification of Core Needs (Analysis and Desirability Check) Each of the sustainability staff was interviewed about what tools could help them do their jobs better and advance sustainability within their transit agencies. The needs and tools discussed fell into three buckets: Quantification. Transit agencies need tools to quantify and evaluate different sustainability strategies. This includes both tools that provide in-depth information on specific strategies (for example, alternative fuels and vehicles, sustainable construction materials, lighting improve- ments, gray water recycling, capital projects that reduce driving) as well as higher-level tools that measure and compare return on investment across a variety of strategies. Governance. Transit agencies with mature sustainability programs need guidance on inte- grating 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. Governance tools could include high-level guidance on forming, grow- ing, and managing sustainability programs or targeted guidance on tackling common barriers to addressing sustainability in budgeting and procurement, or within specific departments of a transit agency. 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. Transit agencies with sustainability programs often collect copious amounts of data to measure their progress, but they need tools to help distill this data into compelling graphics. Tools that identify templates or best practices for communicating sustainability successes or the broader sustainability benefits of transit could also help build support for sustainability initiatives or for transit in general. These three needs were further divided into seven topic areas that individual tools could address: Quantification 1. Costs and benefits of specific sustainability decisions 2. ROI and budgeting for sustainability strategies