National Academies Press: OpenBook

Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency (2018)

Chapter: Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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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Page 61
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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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Page 63
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C - Proposals for Tools Developed." 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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51 Tool Proposal: Sustainability + Return on Investment (S+ROI) Tool Overview The provisionally named Sustainability + Return on Investment (S+ROI) Tool will guide tran- sit agency staff through collecting data and conducting calculations to compare the long-term costs and benefits of sustainability strategies versus conventional alternatives. Transit agencies typically make investment decisions based on their impact on the capital budget. This makes it challenging to implement sustainability strategies, which often cost more up front but may save money over the long term. The S+ROI Tool will make it easy for staff to analyze and compare the long-term costs and benefits of different strategies so that they can better compare strategy alter- natives and make more informed decisions about which strategies to pursue. The concept under- lying the S+ROI Tool, life-cycle cost analysis, can be challenging to grasp; as Figure C-1 illustrates, the Tool will be designed to help users that have different levels of familiarity with the concept. The S+ROI Tool will be an Excel spreadsheet that quantifies financial metrics, including: • Life-cycle costs, which measure the total lifetime cost of implementing a strategy. • Initial costs, which measure the up-front costs of implementing a strategy. • Payback period, which measures the amount of time it takes for the long-term savings from a sustainability strategy to compensate for the difference in initial costs between the strategy and a conventional alternative. The Tool will quantify these metrics based on user-entered data about the initial and ongoing costs of both a sustainability strategy and a business-as-usual alternative. It will also quantify commonly-used sustainability metrics, including greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria pollutant reductions, based on the anticipated annual savings in resources (fuel, electricity, water, etc.) due to the sustainability strategy. Figure C-2 shows an example of what the main sheet for the S+ROI Tool might look like and illustrates the input data that would be provided by the user as well as the metrics that would be included in the results. The input data and calculations involved in quantifying the financial and sustainability met- rics in the S+ROI Tool are the same regardless of what type of strategy the user is assessing. The Tool will also include an assumptions sheet where users can view and customize the assumptions (e.g., inflation rate; discount rate; cost of fuel, electricity, and other resources) that underlie the calculations. In addition to the sheets described above, which are focused on calculating the internal costs and benefits of sustainability strategies to transit agencies, the Tool will include a regional ben- efits sheet that estimates the broader benefits of transit service. In order to make the Tool simple A P P E N D I X C Proposals for Tools Developed

52 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency to use with the data that is likely to be available to practitioners, we will focus on those benefits that can be calculated based on transit ridership—including current ridership or the increase in ridership due to new or improved service. These benefits include: • Vehicle miles traveled reduced • Fuel saved • Greenhouse gas emissions reduced • Criteria pollutant emissions reduced • User transportation cost savings • Reduced obesity rates • Reduced injuries and fatalities from collisions The steps in the calculation for this portion of the Tool will likely include: 1. The user estimates inputs changes in service characteristics (e.g., frequency, speed), and the Tool applies elasticities from research to estimate the change in ridership. This step is optional for users that need assistance with ridership estimates for new or improved service. Figure C-1. Anticipated user questions and S+ROI Tool answers.

Proposals for Tools Developed 53 2. The user inputs current ridership or the estimated increase in ridership due to new and improved service. 3. The user inputs the type of area served (e.g., urban, suburban, rural) and the approximate population of the service area. The Tool looks up the mode shift factor for the service area from the APTA Greenhouse Gas protocol, which the user can modify if needed. 4. The Tool applies the mode shift factor to the ridership estimate to estimate the number of vehicle trips reduced. 5. The Tool applies the average trip length (modifiable by the user) to the number of vehicle trips reduced to estimate the total reduction in vehicle miles traveled. 6. The Tool applies findings from research to the number of new transit trips, vehicle trips reduced, and the reduction in vehicle miles traveled to estimate the benefits listed above. Figure C-2. Example S+ROI main page.

54 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency Work Plan Note: The following activities will be accomplished in Phase II of the TCRP H-53 project, within project Tasks 5–8. The activity descriptions here provide more detail about how we will develop the Tool during Phase II. They do not replace or supersede Tasks 5–8 as described in the overall Project Workplan. Organizing framework: Our first step will be to develop a framework diagram that illus- trates the inputs, assumptions, and results included in the Tool as well as the relationships between them. This framework will serve as the guiding document in the creation of the Tool, outlining all data points that need to be pre-populated in the Tool and helping to ensure that the basic elements and relationships within the Tool remain intact as it undergoes design changes. Figure C-3 illustrates what this framework might look like using many of the variables and relationships that will likely be included in the Tool. We will also document the calculations and research default values for the assumptions to be used in the Tool. Draft Tool: Our next step will be to create a draft spreadsheet version of the Tool that incor- porates the variables, relationships, calculations, and assumptions from the organizing frame- work. The goal of this task is not to produce a final version of the Tool, but to produce a version that can be used to gather feedback from user testers in the following step. We will produce at least one fully-functional version of the Tool, and may also produce additional mock-ups that illustrate different design or functionality options. User testing: We will then test draft versions of the Tool with interested transit agency staff drawn from the panel and from the user focus group that we have assembled for this project. We will circulate draft versions of the Tool to up to six users. Shortly after circulating the drafts, we will conduct an initial interview with each tester to observe them using the Tool following a test script and collect initial impressions. We will then allow users a testing period of several weeks Figure C-3. Example organizing framework.

Proposals for Tools Developed 55 to try using the Tool on their own to assess sustainability strategies that their transit agency is considering or has implemented in the past. At the end of the testing period, we will hold a group conversation to collect additional feedback about potential design or functionality changes. We will include a section in the final report summarizing the user testing process, notes from each interview, and our overall findings. Final Tool: We will then produce a final version of the Tool that incorporates the feed- back received during user testing. Though we will design the Tool to be self-explanatory to a user with little knowledge of sustainability or life-cycle analysis, we will also write a brief user’s guide with instructions on how to use the Tool and documentation of calculations and assumptions. Final report: We will include sections in the final report for this project that document the process of creating the S+ROI Tool, including the organizing framework, the pilot testing pro- cess and results, and changes made between the draft and final Tools. Budget Estimate We estimate that the budget to create this Tool according to the above work plan will be approximately $32,000. Tool Proposal: Sustainability Roadmap Tool Overview The provisionally named Sustainability Roadmap will be the premier Tool created by this project. The Sustainability Roadmap will be an interactive PDF document that helps transit agencies at all levels of achievement and resources start, improve, or expand a sustainability program. As directed by the Panel, this Tool will be a “container” for guidance on sustain- ability program development in all areas. As directed by the Panel, the Roadmap will also include: • Guidance on applying pre-existing tools • A checklist of considerations for budget prioritization processes • Green procurement barriers (e.g., state laws, Board policies) and examples of successful practices to overcome barriers • Communications guidance on how (communication methods) to pitch what (sustainability benefits) to whom (stakeholders/decision makers) • Strategies to articulate the regional benefits of transit (e.g., reduced emissions, improved public health, reduced transportation cost burden) The potential scope of the Sustainability Roadmap is nearly infinite, while our project bud- get is clearly not. Since the Interim Meeting, the project team has made a concentrated effort to develop two organizing frameworks that provide both structure and scope for the Tool. These are: 1. Change Management—Organized by 8 principles of change management: a. Accountability b. Inspiring Employees c. Mission + Vision d. Public Engagement e. Cross-Agency Partnerships

56 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency f. Leadership g. Resources h. Integration 2. Transit Agency User—Organized by typical operating roles and divisions of transit agencies including, but not limited to: a. CEO b. Sustainability Officer c. Operations + Maintenance d. Capital Projects/Engineering e. Planning + Design f. Agency/Office Procurement g. Finance + Budget h. Performance Reporting i. Safety/Legal j. Diversity k. Marketing/Public Outreach l. Human Resources A Quick Refresher and Update on Organizational Frameworks Organizational schemes suggested by the Panel at the Interim Meeting were: • Sustainability program components (e.g., SOGR, procurement, budgeting, staff engagement, energy management). • Sustainability process steps (e.g., identify stakeholders, engage stakeholders, identify opportunities). • User’s level of experience and resources (e.g., beginner, intermediate, advanced). The project team has adopted the term ‘organizing framework’ to refer to the structure of the information and/or functions contained within a Tool. The organizing framework can be represented as a flowchart, decision tree, or ‘family tree’—or as a series of these. We can use one or both organizing frameworks proposed here to construct the Tool. Please see graphical representations of each organizing framework in 11″×17″ format. In each organizing framework we include two main types of information: • Organizing Principles—The highest level of the hierarchy, represented by 1.a–1.h and 2.a–2.l in the lists immediately above. • Strategies + Functions—The second level of the hierarchy. Strategies + Functions are the same in both organizing frameworks, though they are arranged differently in each. Strategies + Functions describe the functional areas of guidance that will be contained in the Tool. Below Strategies + Functions will eventually be a third level of Detailed Guidance. Determining what detailed guidance to include will be one of the principal next steps of Tool development.

Proposals for Tools Developed 57 Moving forward, we propose to use one primary organizing framework along with two sub- ordinate frameworks for cross-referencing, as follows: • Use Change Management as the primary organizing framework. Change management works well as a primary organizing framework, because learning about, understanding, and embrac- ing change management principles is essential to a successful sustainability program. In contrast, using Transit Agency User as the primary organizing framework could imply that sustainability programs can operate in existing silos. Necessary cross-linkages between dif- ferent areas of change management appear in that organizing framework and reinforce the multi-faceted, holistic nature of a successful program. • Use Transit Agency User as a secondary organizing framework, via cross-referencing. The panel expressed an explicit interest in organizing the Tool by user and/or department. We agree that providing a way for users in individual roles and departments to ‘see’ themselves in the Tool is essential. We believe that the best way to do that is by including an add-on navigational function that directs users to specific parts of the Tool. We’ll explain this further below. • Use user’s level of achievement as a tertiary organizing framework. Both the panel and the project team have agreed that the Roadmap must feel useful and accessible to users at all levels of achievement—from Platinum signatories to the APTA Sustainability Commitment to those transit agencies yet to sign the Commitment. We propose to incorporate level of achievement in the Tool either in the same way that Transit Agency User is incorporated or in ways that vary from topic to topic. We expect that preferred methods for incorporating level of achievement in particular areas of detailed content will emerge as research and design for the Tool proceeds. One of the organizational schemes proposed by the Panel included steps in identifying sus- tainability projects, such as identify stakeholders, and identify opportunities. We believe that step-wise organization will be best applied selectively at the Detailed Guidance level, where it may work very well for some topic areas. What is Detailed Guidance? We use the term Detailed Guidance to refer to the most specific and detailed content in the Sustainability Roadmap Tool. In most cases we don’t know yet exactly what Detailed Guidance will be included in the Tool. But we do have some ways of referring to types of Detailed Guidance: • New Methods refers to content that requires development of new methods, or refinement or standardization of methods not sufficiently mature to provide case studies in practice. This type of Detailed Guidance will require the most effort to produce, so it will only apply to a few topic areas in the Tool. • Case Studies will be developed for content related to methods already used in practice. Case studies entail identification and documentation of best practice examples, but require a lower level of effort than New Methods. • Links & References are reserved for content areas for which pre-existing tools and resources already provide support, and for those content areas that are not prioritized for development of New Methods and Case Studies. This type of content comprises links to recommended pre-existing tools and resources along with the project team’s professional opinion about how best to apply them.

60 Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency To further illustrate how the proposed organizing framework would feel to the user, the proj- ect team created sample landing pages for the Sustainability Roadmap. Landing Page – The first visual experience of the user upon opening the Tool. The landing page serves as a gateway and navigational access point for the rest of the Tool. The following two pages show two distinct landing page concepts for the proposed primary organizing framework–change management. The first page uses a puzzle motif to convey the organizing framework. Users would click on one of the 8 organizing principles to access the content of the Tool. The green sidebar shows an example of how the proposed secondary organizing framework (transit agency user) might look to the user of the Tool. A separate dialogue function would guide the user to certain parts of the Tool based on her individual functions or needs. The proposed tertiary organizing framework (level of accomplishment) could be integrated in the sidebar dialogue as well. The second page uses a transit line motif as a landing page, with the same primary orga- nizing framework of change management. The green sidebar could be integrated with this design as well. After you examine the two landing page concepts on the next two pages, continue on to see the Work Plan and Budget Estimate for the Sustainability Roadmap Tool. Work Plan Note: The following activities will be accomplished in Phase II of the TCRP H-53 project, within project Tasks 5–8. The activity descriptions here provide more detail about how we will develop the Tool during Phase II. They do not replace or supersede Tasks 5–8 as described in the overall Project Workplan. Define organizing framework: We have produced two potential organizing frameworks, along with two possible landing page designs. We now solicit feedback on the frameworks and landing pages from the panel. We will also solicit input from the user focus group and from attendees at the APTA Sustainability Workshop in Austin. In view of the input received, we will then refine the organizing framework and landing page for the first working prototype of the Tool. Prioritize content: Defining the organizing framework already entails scoping content for the Tool at a high level. In this activity we will conduct further research to establish what content is already available (that would be appropriate to include as a link or reference) and what types of content this project could produce (that would be appropriate to include as new content or case studies). We will prioritize content for the Roadmap based on the project team’s professional opinions, input from the panel, and input from the user focus group. Draft Tool: We will compile the first working prototype of the Sustainability Roadmap Tool in Interactive PDF. This activity will include preliminary development of new content and case studies. The prototype itself will include draft content and graphics. We will also conduct internal testing to make sure that the Tool is suitable for a beta release to the user focus group and panel.

Proposals for Tools Developed 63 User testing: We will then test draft versions of the Tool with interested transit agency staff drawn from the user focus group that we have assembled for this project. We will circulate draft versions of the Tool to users. Shortly after circulating the drafts, we will conduct an initial inter- view with each tester to observe them using the Tool following a test script and collect initial impressions. We will then allow users a testing period of several weeks to try using the Tool on their own to assess sustainability strategies that their transit agency is considering or has imple- mented in the past. At the end of the testing period, we will hold a group conversation to collect additional feedback about potential design or functionality changes. We may further follow up with individual testers or conduct additional rounds of testing if we see an opportunity to test additional iterations of the Tool and if the project schedule and budget permits. We will include a section in the final report summarizing the user testing process, notes from each interview, and our overall findings. Final Tool: We will then produce a final version of the Tool that incorporates the feedback received during user testing. Final report: We will include sections in the final report for this project that document the process of creating the Tool, including the organizing framework, the content development, the pilot testing process and results, and changes made between the draft and final Tools. Budget Estimate We estimate that the budget to create this Tool according to the above work plan will be approximately $148,000. Key assumptions inherent in this budget estimate are: • The total number of Strategy + Function content areas (the second level in each organizing framework) does not exceed 30. • Detailed Guidance (nested under Strategy + Function areas) in the Tool as a whole will be: – 10% new content—to include: � A checklist of considerations for budget prioritization processes. � Green procurement barriers (e.g., state laws, Board policies) and examples of successful practices to overcome barriers. � Communications guidance on how (communication methods) to pitch what (sustain- ability benefits) to whom (stakeholders/decision makers). � Strategies to articulate the regional benefits of transit (e.g., reduced emissions, improved public health, reduced transportation cost burden). – 40% case studies – 50% links & references See What is Detailed Guidance on page 57 for further explanation of the terms used immediately above.

Next: Appendix D - Task 2 Memo on Interviews with Transit Agency Sustainability Staff »
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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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