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30 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency
First Iteration Tool Design Briefs 31
32 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency
First Iteration Tool Design Briefs 33
34 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency
First Iteration Tool Design Briefs 35
36 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency
37 Cost-Benefit Case Study Database Need for Tool The APTA Sustainability Commitment focuses on identifying sustainability metrics and tar- gets and defining actions to meet these targets. However, there is little guidance on what resources (e.g., equipment costs, staff time) are necessary to implement different sustainability strategies or to start up a sustainability program. When staff propose new sustainability projects to leadership, the first question is often âhow much will this cost?â Sustainability staff need better information on the costs and benefits of sustainability programs and strategies in order to identify the right approaches, give a realistic estimate of costs, and help others within their transit agencies under- stand what benefits they can expect in return for this investment. Several interviewees highlighted this need during our conversations with transit agency sustainability staff: â¢ âA tool that pulls together commonly used and effective strategies, and includes info on how they were financed, would be extremely helpful. Something like a collection of case stud- ies that relate to proven, successful sustainability projects by government agencies would be great.â (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) â¢ âWeâre struggling with building support among Division Chiefs for a sustainability program. Communication materials with success stories from other agencies would be helpful.â (Chicago Transit Authority) â¢ âBudget decisions tend to be from year to year, unless itâs for a very large project. This means it is difficult to set up strategies and projects to meet proposed targets with uncertain funding.â (Bay Area Rapid Transit) This tool will provide transit agencies with the information they need to communicate the costs and benefits of different sustainability strategies so that they can build support for sustain- ability within their agencies and better integrate sustainability into transit agency work plans. Rather than quantifying costs and benefits, the tool will provide case studies that staff can use to build a compelling case for different sustainability strategies based on the unique needs of their transit agencies. Target Audience for Tool(s) This tool would satisfy the needs of several different target audiences within transit agencies: â¢ Sustainability staff need easy access to information on the costs and benefits of sustainabil- ity strategies so that they can make the case for investing in sustainability to others within their transit agency. These staff often have a strong technical understanding of sustainability A P P E N D I X B Second Iteration Tool Proposals
38 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency strategies, but often have limited time to conduct research or identify best practices from among their peers. In order to help their transit agencies innovate, they need information that will be compelling to decision makers and other staff. â¢ Decision makers need a comprehensive, high-level understanding of the costs and benefits of different strategies so that they can choose those that make the most sense within the overall mission and constraints of their transit agency. They need concise, non-technical descriptions of costs and benefits because they generally have a lot of information to process in limited time. Decision makers can be conservative about pursuing new strategies and want to con- sider how a decision will affect all aspects of a transit agencyâs work, so they need information that is grounded in case studies of peer agencies. â¢ Division staff (e.g., maintenance staff, drivers) need to understand how sustainability strate- gies will improve their jobs on a day-to-day basis in order to implement these strategies. Form and Main Functions of the Tool The tool will be an interactive database of case studies of transit agencies implementing differ- ent sustainability strategies. âSustainability strategiesâ would be defined broadly to include both specific actions that transit agencies undertake to make progress toward sustainability targets (e.g., procuring hybrid buses, using energy-efficient lighting) or organizational strategies (e.g., forming an internal sustainability team, hiring a dedicated sustainability staff person). Each case study would include: â¢ A brief description of the strategy. â¢ Information on the policies, goals, targets, or decisions that motivated the transit agency to pursue the strategy. â¢ A description of how the transit agency implemented the strategy, including alternatives considered and successes and challenges. â¢ A discussion of the costs and benefits of the strategy. This would include information on both quantitative (e.g., cost of purchasing equipment, staff hours required, fuel conserved) and qualitative (e.g., staff education needs, increased buy-in from decision makers, increased driver satisfaction) costs and benefits. Case studies would be catalogued to allow users the ability to search the case studies in a variety of ways: â¢ Users who want to find information on specific strategies that they are considering would be able to search by keyword or by strategy type (e.g., sustainable fuels, water conservation, organizational sustainability). â¢ Users who want to find information that is relevant to their transit agency would be able to search by transit agency characteristics (e.g., transit agency size, location, modes operated). â¢ Users who want to understand which strategies will be most effective at addressing a particular need would be able to search by benefit type (e.g., saving money, improving service, improv- ing staff satisfaction). In addition, related case studies would be cross-referenced so that users can quickly identify a variety of case studies on a given strategy. The tool would also include high-level summaries of different strategy types, with links to related case studies, so that first-time users and users in the initial stage of adopting a sustainability program could better understand the information that the tool offers and how to use it. We are proposing the development of this tool as an interactive PDF so that it can be easily distributed without requiring ongoing maintenance that a web-based tool would require.
Second Iteration Tool Proposals 39 However, this tool could be further developed as an online tool, including as an update to APTAâs Sustainability Forum, which includes the capability for users to comment and give feedback on different questions and strategies, outside the scope of this project. For an example of a searchable online database of transportation case studies that is similar to what we are proposing, see the Transportation Project Impact Case Studies database (TPICS http://www.tpics.us/). This SHRP2 research project, which ICF supported, contains 100 case studies of transportation projects, with information on project characteristics, objectives, impacts, and contextual information (e.g., location, information on local land use change and policies). User Journey Map The user journey map in Figure B-1 below illustrates how users with different needs could find the information they need using the tool, what key takeaways might be, and what users could do with this information. Key Questions and Uncertainties Are there enough examples of transit agencies that have pursued sustainability strategies that we can come to general conclusions about the costs and benefits of different strategies? For some Figure B-1. User journey map for the Cost-Benefit Case Study Database.