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5 S E C T I O N 1 1.1 Social and Economic Sustainability for Public Transportation Transit systems provide critical services that help shape and connect communities. The fundamental purpose of transportation systems, including transit, is to meet human social and economic needs by âconnecting them with goods, services, and opportunities that promote quality of lifeâ (Fischer 2013, p. 12). A sustainable transit system is designed, constructed, and operated in a way that fosters environmental stewardship, economic prosperity, and social well-being within the region it serves. Environmental sustainability is managed, measured, and reported relatively easily by quantifying performance measures relating to energy use, waste generation and diversion, and water use. Social and economic sustainability is more challenging to quantify; therefore, this area of responsibility often is largely ignored and undermanaged. APTA has published several guidelines for the transit industry that focus on environmen- tal sustainability. APTA also recognizes the key role that transit agencies can play in fostering healthier lifestyles, sound economic development, and more livable communities, and recently published the Recommended Practice on Social and Economic Sustainability for Transit Agen- cies (APTA 2018b), herein called the APTA Recommended Practice. (For clarity where refer- enced, other APTA Recommended Practice documents are given with their full titles.) This publication provides a framework for approaching economic and social sustainability, along with an overview of recommended practices. However, the document does not include perfor- mance measures, and APTA does not provide other guidance regarding social and economic performance measures. TCRP Project J-11, Task 32, was developed to provide foundational guidance regarding social and economic performance measures to transit agencies. The APTA Recommended Practice (APTA 2018b) identifies six critical elements 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. For each critical element, APTA has identified the intended outcome, goals, objectives and specific recommended practices transit agencies can follow to address social and/or economic sustainability. The six elements can be summarized as follows (paraphrasing content in APTA 2018b): â¢ Community Building and Engagement. Because transit agencies are largely and predomi- nantly funded by taxpayers and transit users, community building and engagement should be a focus for transit agencies in order to understand and support the communities served by transit. Engaging diverse groups, creating hospitality, demonstrating goodwill, and commit- ting to good design in the public realm are all important considerations in developing a positive relationship with the public. This helps transit agencies attract and retain riders, create a safer and more welcoming transit system and become part of a communityâs identity. Key objectives Introduction
6 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document for this goal element include community engagement, rider engagement, and collaboration and partnerships. â¢ Economic Impact. Transit access supports job creation, tax revenues, and opportunities for economic development. Key objectives for this goal element include measuring and com- municating the economic benefits of transit, extending the economic reach of public trans- portation, understanding distributional effects on specific areas or groups, and politically leveraging economic benefits. â¢ Employees and Workforce. In addition to following local, state, and federal laws and regula- tions, transit agencies can strive to create a positive environment for employees. Key objectives for this goal element include a focus on employee recruiting, employee retention, and pro- moting organizational culture and workforce engagement. â¢ Financial. Transit agencies provide reliable transit service by developing a sustainable busi- ness model. In many cases, reductions in operating expenses is necessary to ensure financial viability. Key objectives for this goal element include fiscal responsibility, making sustainable investments, and engaging in sound procurement strategies. â¢ Mobility and Accessibility. Transit service enhances a communityâs mobility by ensuring that transit riders are able to move about the community. In order for transit users to reach their desti- nation, however, transit services must also be accessibleâtransit users must be able to overcome financial, physical, and other obstacles. Key objectives for this goal element include promoting affordability (for both housing and transportation), access, and multimodal connectivity. â¢ Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Transit agencies can ensure that transit services promote safety, security, health, and welfare by following federal, state, and local laws and regulations. However, engaging in safety and emergency preparedness also reflects agenciesâ commitment to the long-term well-being of transit users and staff; it also protects transit agencies from unexpected costs due to delays and injuries. Key objectives for this goal element include promoting safety, security, and emergency preparedness. The APTA Recommended Practice identifies goals for each element. Table 1 illustrates the connections between the goals and social and economic outcomes that are both internal (i.e., transit agency staff) and external (i.e., the traveling public and local communities). Goal Social Economic Internal External Internal External Community Building and Engagement. Engage diverse groups to improve transit service, create hospitality in customer service, and demonstrate goodwill through engagement techniques and commitment to good design in the public realm. X X Economic Impact. Support the economic growth of the region and the nation. X X X Employees and Workforce. Create a conducive and supportive environment for all employees. X Financial. Ensure the reliability of transit services through financial stability. X X Mobility and Accessibility. Make it easier for people of all abilities to affordably and reasonably access different goods and services to meet their daily needs. X X Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Ensure that operations are safe and do not compromise the well- being of riders, staff, or the public. X X X X Source: APTA Recommended Practice (APTA 2018b), p. 2 Table 1. Elements of social and economic sustainability.
Introduction 7 1.2 Purpose of the Guidance Document This guidance document was developed as part of TCRP Project J-11, âQuick-Response Research on Long-Term Strategic Issues,â Task 32, âPublic Transportation Sustainability Guidelines and Metrics.â The purpose of this report is to help transit agencies use perfor- mance measures to plan, evaluate, continuously improve, and report on social and economic sustainability. The report was developed to complement the APTA Recommended Practice (APTA 2018b), and it is designed as a practical tool to help transit agencies of all sizes develop social and economic performance measures that align with the transit agencyâs social and eco- nomic goals and objectives. The primary objective of the project was to support APTA in devel- oping social and economic sustainability performance measures by preparing a synthesis of existing measures; however, this guidance document is designed to provide guidance to all types of transit agencies, regardless of their affiliation with APTA. This report has five sections and five appendices. â¢ Section 1: Introduction. This section provides information about the purpose of the project and background on the APTA Recommended Practice (APTA 2018b). â¢ Section 2: State of the Practice. This section summarizes the research conducted to evaluate the state of the practice, including key findings from the literature review and interviews with select transit agency representatives. â¢ Section 3: Performance Measures. This section summarizes the process the research team used to evaluate the social and economic sustainability performance measures that had been identified during the state-of-the-practice review, and presents the list of top social and eco- nomic sustainability performance measures. â¢ Section 4: Operationalizing the Performance Measures. This section discusses strategies for operationalizing the suggested performance measures within a transit agency. â¢ Section 5: Suggestions for Additional Research. This section identifies areas for further research. â¢ Appendix A: Literature Review Summary. This appendix provides summaries of the infor- mation sources reviewed as part of the literature review. â¢ Appendix B: Interview Summaries. This appendix provides summaries of the interviews held with representatives from eight transit agencies. â¢ Appendix C: Performance Measure Evaluation Process. This appendix describes in greater detail the performance measure evaluation process that was conducted as part of this project. â¢ Appendix D: Performance Measure Survey and Results. This appendix provides a copy of the performance measure survey and the results of the performance measures survey given to the project panel and members of the APTA working group on social and economic sustainability. The Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures Database is an ExcelÂ®-based workbook document that includes the complete list of social and economic performance mea- sures identified as part of this project. The database is provided separately for download from the TCRP Research Report 205 webpage. To access the webpage, go to www.trb.org and search for âTCRP Research Report 205â.