National Academies Press: OpenBook

Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency (2018)

Chapter: Chapter 3 - Final Tools

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Final Tools." 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:"Chapter 3 - Final Tools." 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:"Chapter 3 - Final Tools." 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:"Chapter 3 - Final Tools." 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:"Chapter 3 - Final Tools." 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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Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

21 The two tools produced in this project will be publicly released and made available for download from the TRB website. These tools have been designed to be self-explanatory. There is no manual to read before using the tools. Guidance and instruction are provided throughout. Still, this chapter provides an introduction to the tools as they are and some explanation of how they work. This chapter also contains thoughts on how the tools can be further developed in the future. 3.1 Introducing the Sustainability Routemap Purpose of the Routemap The Sustainability Routemap is designed to help users integrate their sustainability programs throughout their transit agencies. The research for this tool determined that transit agencies are at many different states of development of sustainability programs. Some are just starting. Others are well established and are tackling sustainability in new areas such as design and construction of facilities. All transit agencies need help with better integrating sustainability into everything that they do. The goal with this Routemap is to help users understand what they need to do in order to achieve strong integration of sustainability into a transit agency. To make this happen, sustainabil- ity must be integrated into the goals, communication, decision making, and performance track- ing of the transit agency. The Routemap provides resources, recommendations, and examples of approaches to developing the necessary principles of change in a transit agency. The Routemap is not a step-by-step guide. It is also not a comprehensive description of everything a sustainable transit agency does or should do. Rather, it is a tool to understand the most important principles of integrating sustainability. What Is in the Routemap? The Sustainability Routemap contains four types of information: • Principles. All of the content in the Routemap is organized under one of eight principles. The eight principles form a framework for integrating sustainability, are interrelated, and are mutually supportive. The principles are an organizing guide to understanding where a sustainability program is faring well and where it might improve. • Recommended new practices. In creating the Routemap, the focus was on making exist- ing information and knowledge in the transit industry more easily available. In a few cases, C H A P T E R 3 Final Tools

22 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency however, the team needed to develop and propose new information on how to integrate sus- tainability into transit agencies. These sections of the Routemap contain strategic approaches and recommendations from the consultant team’s own research and professional experience. • Best practice examples. Notable practices by transit agencies that can be replicated are included, along with best practices from other industries that could be applied in the transit industry. • Links to other resources. The Routemap contains links that lead the user to valuable resources created by other agencies such as the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). What Are the Eight Principles? Change Management for Integrating Sustainability is essentially changing sustainability from abstract concepts a few people are tracking to an integral part of the culture of the transit agency’s work. Principles and strategies presented here have been pulled from leading change management research for both the private and public sector, the professional expertise of the consultant team, and the oversight panel. • Mission and Vision. Deep integration of sustainability within the mission, vision, and core goals of the transit agency. • Leadership from the Top. Chief executives, boards, and senior management prioritizing sustainability. • Intra-Agency Partnerships. Decision making and implementation oversight by cross-agency teams. • Inspiring Employees. Informing, engaging, and inspiring employees, defining every employee’s role in sustainability. • Funding and Resources. Dedicated sustainability staff and adequate funding. • Decision Making. Incorporation of sustainability into existing decision-making tools including work plans, performance evaluations, budget prioritization, and procurement. • Performance and Accountability. Progress tracking metrics and accountability systems for managers, employees, and the board. • Public Engagement. Gaining public recognition and support for transit agency sustainability initiatives. How to Use the Routemap The Routemap is an interactive PDF and is designed to be navigated by clicking on buttons rather than scrolling. Along the way users will see external links that will open a resource in a web browser as well as internal links that lead to pages within the Routemap. While viewing with Adobe software, it is also possible to search the PDF using either CTRL+F (Windows PCs) or CMD+F (Mac). For users just starting (or re-starting) a sustainability program, the following is recommended: • Take a high-level tour of the Routemap to understand all its components, including the eight principles, • Start with the principles of Mission and Vision, Intra-Agency Partnerships, and Performance and Accountability, and • Pick one or two principles to work on. Users do not have to do everything described in the Routemap to be successful, but it will help users to have a comprehensive awareness of the Routemap’s content.

Final Tools 23 For users with well-established sustainability programs, the following is recommended: • Do a deeper dive into one or two principles that you feel need the most work at your transit agency, • Identify suggestions and leads that can help their particular situation, • Reach out to transit agencies that inspire them, and • Explore cross-linkages between the principles. A checklist of actions is included with the Routemap that will also help orient users toward actions described. The checklist will help users prioritize those actions that they learn about in exploring the Routemap and track progress toward their goals. 3.2 Introducing the S+ROI Calculator What Is S+ROI? Evaluating the Triple Bottom Line In the past, evaluating sustainability projects for transit agencies could be tricky business. Was it total cost of ownership (TCO) or return on investment (ROI)? Would you save money, emissions, or both by reducing fuel use? How could projects be compared on truly equal foot- ing? And how could evaluations capture all three parts of the triple bottom line: environmental, social, and economic sustainability? The S+ROI Calculator simplifies the sustainability evaluation process by combining existing methods into a single, standardized approach. The Calculator captures every part of the triple bottom line for which a broadly applicable and agreed upon quantification methodology is available in practice. The Internal Cost-Benefit (C-B) Estimator quantifies two parts of the triple bottom line. Economic sustainability—in this case, financial sustainability for the transit agency—is cal- culated as TCO. That means that all capital and operating costs and savings (relative to the no project alternative) are accounted for over the full lifetime of the project. To keep the calculator simple to use, users will need to average any annual costs or resource savings over the project lifetime. The calculator also assumes that all initial costs are incurred in the first year of the project. These simplifications lead to slightly different results than if one calculated specific cash in-flows and out-flows for every year of the project. Environmental sustainability is quantified as internal resource savings, including reducing use of energy and water and production of waste and emissions. While projects can have internal social sustainability benefits, such as improving the quality of life for employees, those kinds of benefits are not generalizable and quantifiable just yet. The External Benefits Estimator quantifies all three parts of the triple bottom line. Eco- nomic sustainability is quantified as the total amount of money saved by regional residents by taking transit. Environmental sustainability is quantified as regional savings in fuel use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Social sustainability is quantified as reduced traffic fatalities and obesity rates. There are other benefits of transit to the region, but the types included here are the ones that are readily quantifiable using existing, agreed upon methods for any project that supports transit ridership. So what is S+ROI? It is the sum of all the benefits described above. It is the internal economic (financial) and environmental benefits plus regional economic, social, and environmental benefits from transit ridership (if applicable).

24 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency How to Use the Calculator The Calculator contains two separate estimators. Depending on the project in question, users may use either or both of the estimators. The Internal Cost-Benefit (C-B) Estimator evaluates a transit agency’s TCO for a proposed sustainability project. It also evaluates environmental resource savings, such as electricity and emissions, due to a sustainability project. The External Benefits Estimator evaluates benefits from transit that accrue to the region in which the transit service operates. This estimator can be used in two different ways. First, it can be used to evaluate a proposed project that would increase transit ridership. Second, it can be used to evaluate the benefits of ridership on existing service. The benefits estimated here accrue to the region because people ride transit instead of driving. This estimator is not applicable to projects that do not affect transit ridership. The Resource Library There are many different types of transit sustainability projects, from energy efficiency upgrades in maintenance facilities, to water conservation projects, to bus rapid transit lines. The breadth of projects is too large to even list comprehensively. In order to make a tool that could evaluate every conceivable type of project, the team kept the inputs in this calculator rather generic. The user of the tool has to estimate specific types of costs and savings for his or her particu- lar project. To help with that, the team created the Resource Library tab. On this tab users will find links to resources that can help them estimate specific inputs for projects involving vehicle fuels, renewable energy, energy efficiency, water conservation, waste diversion, and materials and construction. 3.3 Looking Toward Version 2.0 Sustainability Routemap v2.0 In sharing the working prototype, draft final, and final versions of the Sustainability Routemap, the project team received a lot of positive feedback. They also heard ideas about how the Routemap could evolve in future versions. Many users expressed a desire to see more examples of actions with social and economic ben- efits highlighted in the tool. While available examples from transit agencies tend to focus more on environmental benefits, the Routemap could serve as a tool to make social and economic sustainability more broadly understood. The project team agrees that social and economic sus- tainability need more time in the spotlight. As transit agencies make progress on those topics, a Routemap v2.0 could also give them more emphasis. Users also commented that the Routemap could become an integral part of APTA’s Sustain- ability Commitment. The Commitment focuses heavily on sustainability metrics and targets and less so on change management. The material in the Routemap could help to guide signatories toward higher levels of achievement through program development and change management. A Routemap v2.0 could more directly complement the existing Sustainability Commitment by providing a more robust set of actions that signatories can take to earn achievement. It is the hope as a project team that a future version of the Routemap will also evolve in two more ways. First, the goal is that the Sustainability Routemap v2.0 can become a fully interactive

Final Tools 25 web-based tool. The Routemap seeks to serve a broad audience, and one if its primary functions is to help guide users toward material that will be helpful to them. A web-based or app-based interface would provide much more flexibility to design for ease of navigation than the PDF format does. In addition, websites and apps lend themselves more naturally to being updated over time. The current version of the Routemap is a snapshot of practices in 2017. As sustainability programs at transit agencies continue to grow and evolve, the Routemap should grow and evolve with them. The second goal is that version 2.0 will have a feature that supports community interaction and dialogue. A web- or app-based Routemap could include a forum for sharing new practices as they evolve, testing them across different transit agencies, and promoting the ones that work for inclusion in the Routemap. S+ROI Calculator v2.0 The S+ROI Calculator was also well-received, but there are already opportunities for improve- ment in a version 2.0. Comments received generally fell into one of two categories: • Suggestions for additional metrics that the Calculator could estimate and • Requests to make the Calculator easier or more intuitive to use More metrics are not necessarily better. Still, all of the suggestions for additional metrics received have their own merits. They include: • Reduced construction waste, • Social cost of carbon, • Reduced stormwater effluent, and • Job creation. The S+ROI Calculator version 2.0 could include different pathways for different project types. For example, there could be different input screens for the following: • Capital projects involving major construction, • Projects that change the transit rider’s experience, • Energy efficiency projects, and • Projects that affect water use or water quality. Creating different pathways would allow for more specific terminology and metrics that apply to some project types and not to others. Users could also choose which metrics they would like to see as outputs. For example, for a strict financial feasibility analysis, a user may not be interested in applying the social cost of carbon to GHG reductions generated by the project. However, a different user who is interested in conducting a more theoretical cost-benefit analysis may wish to include the social cost of carbon. The greatest hope for the S+ROI Calculator is that it can become a commonly used—even standard—tool for evaluation of sustainability projects at transit agencies. That would help to create a common language around these types of evaluations. It would also help to generate a library of real project evaluations that peer agencies could use to get a sense of project feasibility before conducting their own analyses. Like the Routemap, the S+ROI Calculator could become a sort of platform for community knowledge sharing.

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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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