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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25461.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25461.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25461.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25461.
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1 A sustainable transit agency provides environmental, social and economic benefits to the communities it serves. Transit agency efforts to quantify these benefits have focused primarily on environmental sustainability. APTA has developed guidance for transit agen- cies on how to use performance measures to quantify transit’s impact on environmental sustainability. APTA has yet to develop similar guidance to measure social and economic sustainability, which is the focus of this research project. This guidance document is designed as a practical tool to help transit agencies of all sizes develop and use social and economic sustainability performance measures to plan, evaluate, and report on social and economic sustainability. The document is intended to comple- ment the Recommended Practice on Social and Economic Sustainability for Transit Agen- cies (APTA 2018b), referred to herein as the “APTA Recommended Practice.” (For clarity where referenced, other APTA Recommended Practice documents are given with their full titles.) Available at https://www.apta.com/wp-content/uploads/Standards_Documents/ APTA-SUDS-CC-RP-005-18.pdf, the APTA Recommended Practice provides a frame- work for approaching economic and social sustainability, along with an overview of recommended practices. However, the document does not include performance measures, which are critical to reporting progress and gauging success. S U M M A R Y Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document Sustainability Performance Measures Transit agencies regularly use performance measures (sometimes called performance metrics or metrics) to track progress against agency goals and objectives over time. Sustainability performance measures are developed to measure progress against sustainability goals and objectives. Sustainability includes social, environmental, and economic issues in what is often referred to as the triple bottom line. Social measures reflect a transit agency’s commitment to community development, equity, and safety; economic measures reflect a transit agency’s contribution to economic development and operational efficiency; and environmental measures indicate a transit agency’s progress toward protecting the environment (e.g., by reducing pollution from single-occupancy vehicles). Although environmental performance measures are relatively well-established, transit agencies generally have placed less emphasis on establishing social and economic performance measures.

2 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document APTA Social and Economic Sustainability Goals The APTA Recommended Practice identifies goals, objectives, and specific recommended practices that transit agencies can take to address social and/or economic sustainability. The APTA Recommended Practice identifies six critical goal areas that frame social and economic sustainability for transit agencies: 1. Community building and engagement, 2. Economic impact, 3. Employees and workforce, 4. Financial, 5. Mobility and accessibility, and 6. Safety and emergency preparedness. This guidance document was developed as part of TCRP Project J-11, “Quick-Response Research on Long-Term Strategic Issues,” Task 32, “Public Transportation Sustainability Guidelines and Metrics.” Using the APTA Recommended Practice as a guide, the project team conducted a literature review and held interviews with representatives from eight transit agencies to identify transit agency practices related to social and economic sustainability outcomes, including the use of performance measures and goal-setting. The research team observed that the practice of applying social and economic sustainability measures is evolv- ing, with few standards and little consistency among transportation agencies. Reporting on sustainability generally is driven by a desire to be responsive to a local constituency and not by compliance with a funding requirement. Furthermore, compared to environmental measures, social and economic sustainability measures are generally seen as being more challenging to define and quantify. Guidance Document This guidance document: • Presents key findings from the literature review and transit agency interviews (Section 2); • Identifies a list of 57 top social and economic sustainability performance measures and 56 transit service measures that were selected using evaluation criteria established in collaboration with the research panel (see Section 3); • Provides transit agencies with guidance on how to set goals, determine objectives, estab- lish measures, implement and evaluate the measures, and report progress on social and economic sustainability (see Section 4); and • Includes a downloadable companion Excel® workbook, called the “Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures Database,” which identifies 606 social and eco- nomic sustainability performance measures and 93 transit service performance measures that can be used by transit agencies to develop an initial list of performance measures. The majority of the social and economic sustainability performance measures were col- lected over the course of the literature review, with some refinements made to ensure that the measures would be: • Universally applicable (e.g., to ensure the measures would be appropriate for multiple transit modes and would not include references to specific transit agencies); • Understandable (e.g., by removing jargon), inclusive (e.g., by adding additional user types to reflect the needs of a wider group of the traveling public); and • Specific (e.g., by specifying capital costs when capital costs were implied in the original language) or meaningful (e.g., adding by type to expenses to better capture the data).

Summary 3 Some measures were added in response to panel input and the research team’s experience. In the Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures Database that accompa- nies this research, performance measures have been characterized to align with • The APTA Recommended Practice goals and objectives; • Characteristics of the transit agency; • The type of measure (i.e., input, process, output, or outcome); • Whether the measure could be used to assess environmental justice; • Whether the measure falls within the agency’s span of control; and • Whether focus of the measure is primarily social or economic. The research team also identified transit service performance measures during the literature review. Although transit service measures often affect social and economic sustainability, they represent measures of a transit agency’s core mission—to provide mobility. For example, these measures include counts of annual ridership, service coverage, hours of service, travel time, vehicular capacity, and vehicle speed/delay. These measures may reflect or indirectly assess social and economic outcomes, but the service measures are separate from the list of social and economic performance measures because they are more focused on mobility. The research team asked the research panel to identify the highest-priority performance measures through a survey format considering the following evaluation criteria: 1. Measure’s Applicability. How applicable is the measure to transit agency operations? 2. Universal Applicability. Is the measure expected to be universally applicable to all types and sizes of transit agencies? 3. Realistic and Attainable. Is the level of effort to collect and maintain the data to support this measure reasonable considering transit agencies resources? 4. Monitoring/Implementation. Is the measure reasonable to track over time and use as a continuous process improvement benchmark? 5. Well Understood. Is the measure understandable by transit agency stakeholders and/or by standard setting organizations? Fifty-seven highest-priority measures were identified, representing all six goal areas included in the APTA Recommended Practice. Transit agencies are encouraged to evaluate these measures individually to ensure that they satisfy the agency’s critical evaluation criteria. The measures also should be considered jointly to ensure that the list of performance measures is complete. Based on feedback gathered over the course of the literature review and interviews, the research team also developed guidance to incorporate sustainability fully into a performance-based planning and programming approach. The research team recommends operationalizing performance measures in five broad steps, as shown in the performance- based management framework: Step 1. Set Goals. Set goals by incorporating social and economic sustainability goals as a subset of all goals or by incorporating social and economic sustainability into existing goals. The APTA Recommended Practice provides a good starting point for both goals and objectives. Step 2. Determine Objectives. Determine social and economic sustainability objectives by identifying the specific actions that transit agencies can take to contribute meaningfully to each goal. Step 3. Establish Measures. Establish social and economic sustainability measures to measure progress. The Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures Database provides a list of 606 measures for transit agencies to reference, including a list of top measures.

4 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document Step 4. Implement and Evaluate. Implement the measures and evaluate them to ensure that the transit agency continues to reflect positive progress on each measure. Section 4 in this report includes a text box on “Key Resources for Transit Agencies” that lists several important resources related to performance-based planning to assist with this effort. Step 5. Report. Report the transit agency’s progress toward supporting economic and social outcomes. Sustainability also informs the way the process is conducted (as indicated by the foun- dational sustainability principles that underlie all the steps). The first time the performance management cycle is conducted, addressing sustainability is likely to be a stand-alone exer- cise, isolated to a subset of goals and measures within a larger performance management system. In later iterations of the cycle, sustainability may be used to inform all aspects of performance management and be a consideration in developing all performance measures and reporting documents. The five steps should be repeated as necessary to drive continuous improvement. Performance-based management framework.

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A sustainable transit agency provides environmental, social, and economic benefits to the communities it serves. Transit agency efforts to quantify these benefits have focused primarily on environmental sustainability. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has developed guidance for transit agencies on how to use performance measures to quantify transit’s impact on environmental sustainability. APTA has yet to develop similar guidance to measure social and economic sustainability, which is the focus of this research project.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Research Report 205: Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document explores a practical tool to help transit agencies of all sizes develop and use social and economic sustainability performance measures to plan, evaluate, and report on social and economic sustainability.

The report is intended to complement the APTA Recommended Practice for Social and Economic Sustainability for Transit Agencies (2018). APTA’s Recommended Practice provides a framework for approaching economic and social sustainability, along with an overview of recommended practices; however, the document does not include performance measures, which are a key component to reporting progress and gauging success.

The report is presented with a companion Excel workbook that can be used by transit agencies to develop their own initial list of performance measures. The workbook includes 606 social and economic sustainability performance measures, as well as 93 transit service performance measures.

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