National Academies Press: OpenBook
« Previous: Section 1 - Introduction
Page 8
Suggested Citation:"Section 2 - State of the Practice." 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.
×
Page 8
Page 9
Suggested Citation:"Section 2 - State of the Practice." 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.
×
Page 9
Page 10
Suggested Citation:"Section 2 - State of the Practice." 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.
×
Page 10
Page 11
Suggested Citation:"Section 2 - State of the Practice." 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.
×
Page 11
Page 12
Suggested Citation:"Section 2 - State of the Practice." 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.
×
Page 12
Page 13
Suggested Citation:"Section 2 - State of the Practice." 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.
×
Page 13
Page 14
Suggested Citation:"Section 2 - State of the Practice." 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.
×
Page 14
Page 15
Suggested Citation:"Section 2 - State of the Practice." 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.
×
Page 15
Page 16
Suggested Citation:"Section 2 - State of the Practice." 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.
×
Page 16
Page 17
Suggested Citation:"Section 2 - State of the Practice." 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.
×
Page 17
Page 18
Suggested Citation:"Section 2 - State of the Practice." 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.
×
Page 18
Page 19
Suggested Citation:"Section 2 - State of the Practice." 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.
×
Page 19

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.

8 S E C T I O N 2 2.1 Methodology To identify potential social and economic sustainability performance measures and transit agency practices relating to social and economic sustainability, the research team conducted a literature review and held interviews with select transit agency representatives. Specifically, the research team reviewed recent literature related to transit and transportation performance measures, reviewed sustainability reports prepared by transit agencies within and outside of the United States, and conducted interviews with representatives from eight transit agencies that focus on the environment/sustainability. The research team selected resources that covered one or more of the following topics: • Social performance measures, • Economic performance measures, • Criteria and process for selecting measures, • Using a stakeholder engagement process to inform and/or select measures, and • Best practices in the public transportation sector. For the literature review, the research team consulted 42 distinct resources. As shown in Table 2, most of these resources included social and economic performance measures. The majority of the resources also discussed social and economic practices of transit or other transportation agencies. Less than half of the resources covered the criteria and process for selecting measures or discussed if or how stakeholder engagement was used in development of the measures. Table 3 identifies the literature reviewed by the research team and lists important highlights identified from each resource. The complete literature review is provided as Appendix A to this report. The list of performance measures is further addressed in Section 3, “Performance Measures,” and is included in the Social and Economic Performance Measures Database that accompanies this report. 2.1.1 Social and Economic Performance Measures Research Using online resources and databases that included Elsevier, the FHWA Community Vision Metrics Tool (FHWA 2013b), the FHWA website, Google Scholar, the TRB Transportation Research Information Services Database (TRID), and the Union Internationale des Transports Publics (UITP) database, the project team conducted searches to find relevant research that was (1) related to transit/transportation sustainability performance measures, (2) had an emphasis on social and economic sustainability measures, and (3) had been published within the previous 5 years. Search terms included: • Social and economic metrics/indicators/performance measures/metrics for transit/ transportation/public transportation, State of the Practice

State of the Practice 9 • Sustainability performance metrics/indicators/measures/metrics for transit/public transportation/transportation, • Social and economic benefits of transit/public transportation, and • Transportation quality of life performance measures/metrics. The research team placed particular emphasis on information from a report by Todd Litman titled Well Measured: Developing Indicators for Sustainable and Livable Transport Planning (Litman 2016). Based on a paper originally published in 2007, this report was updated most recently in 2019; however, the 2016 version of the report was available for use by the research team during the project. The team searched for research papers that cited Well Measured and also reviewed documents that had been referenced by Well Measured. Similarly, searches empha­ sized materials that were listed in the literature review that accompanied the FHWA Community Vision Metrics Tool (FHWA 2013b). 2.1.2 Transit Agency Social and Economic Performance Measures and Practices Research In addition to conducting a literature review of published research related to social and economic sustainability performance measures, the research team conducted a limited review of transit agency social and economic performance measures and practices. This review consisted of collecting information during the 2018 APTA Sustainability and Multi­ modal Planning Workshop, conducting an internet search that included transit agency websites, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) database for sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports, information on social and economic performance measures, and holding interviews with representatives from eight transit agencies. The transit agency reports selected from among agencies known to be supportive of using social and economic performance measures (primarily through their APTA involvement) and were referenced in documents reviewed as part of the initial literature review and/or found on the GRI database. The purpose of the eight interviews was to better understand: • Transit agency goals and objectives related to social and economic sustainability, • Specific social and economic sustainability performance measures currently used by the transit agency, • The type and quality of data available to measure the transit agency’s contribution to social and economic outcomes, and • Barriers to collecting and reporting data and information on social and economic sustainability. The information collected provides insight into the challenges and opportunities associated with developing and implementing social and economic sustainability performance measures Topic Social Performance Measures Economic Performance Measures Criteria/ Process for Selecting Measures Stakeholder Engagement Transit/ Transportation Agency Cases Number of Resources 30 31 12 20 26 Table 2. Topic areas covered by resources reviewed.

10 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document No. Resource Title Author orPublisher Year Highlights Literature Reviewed 1. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards GRI 2018 The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards are the gold standard for sustainability reporting. They include a widely accepted list of performance measures for some of the elements covered in the APTA Recommended Practice (APTA 2018b). The GRI Standards also provide guidance on how to identify material topics and engage stakeholders. The Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) operates as “an independent operating entity under the auspices of GRI” (GRI n.d.). 2. Well Measured: Developing Indicators for Sustainable and Livable Transport Planning Litman 2016 Litman emphasizes the need to follow a systematic process to develop quality performance indicators. The type of indicator selected can influence whether the outcome is determined to be good or bad. It is important to be realistic in selecting indicators that can be measured feasibly and reliably. In this report, Litman suggests several factors to consider when developing indicators, and emphasizes the need to tailor indicators to the situation/organization. 3. Analyzing the Sustainability Performance of Public Transit Miller et al. 2016 Miller et al. introduce the framework for a Public Transit Sustainable Mobility Analysis Tool (PTSMAT) developed specifically for transit agencies to evaluate the sustainability of new projects. 4. TCRP Report 186: Economic Impact Case Study Tool for Transit TCRP 2016 This report, prepared for TCRP by the Economic Development Research Group and Compass Transportation and Technology, Inc., provides several outcome performance measures that can be used to evaluate the economic impact of transit investments. Based on the pilot cases, local economic development impacts can vary depending on factors including transportation access changes, availability of underdeveloped land nearby, area density and location relative to urban business centers, and redevelopment and revitalization goals. 5. Selecting Performance Measures for Transportation Planning: Developing a Facilitator’s Toolbox Heller, Fischer, and Lane 2016 Carefully considering the type of performance measure is a critical step in selecting performance measures, as well as applying relevant criteria. Identifying measures that fall within the transit agency’s sphere of influence is an important consideration, which helps ensure that measures are actionable and connected to outcomes. 6. Final Report: Livability Performance Measures to Transportation Plans and Projects STRIDE 2015 In this report, Lane et al. discuss developing performance measures through a facilitated workshop. A key first step is to reach consensus on the criteria used to evaluate the performance measures, which helps frame measures in terms that the organization understands and adopts, and ultimately affects the measures chosen. Factors that contribute to success include visioning, capacity building, and understanding the different types of measures. 7. Transportation Performance Management for Livability and Social Sustainability: Developing and Applying a Conceptual Framework Fischer 2014 Fischer discusses the complex relationship between transportation organization structures, processes and associated decision-making on social resource outputs and wider social sustainability outcomes. Fischer’s thesis suggests using a framework to contextualize these interactions. Fischer recommends several additional considerations when selecting measures for performance-based decision- making. Table 3. Literature reviewed.

State of the Practice 11 (continued on next page) No. Resource Title Author orPublisher Year Highlights 8. NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 4: Sustainability as an Organizing Principle for Transportation Agencies Booz Allen Hamilton 2014 The authors of this report observe that the most critical need in adopting sustainability as an organizing principle is the lack of a simple and easily communicated tool for determining the return on investment (ROI) of sustainability. Agencies and state departments of transportation (DOTs) are at very distinct stages of development with regard to sustainability, and in order to mature, several functional gaps must be addressed. 9. Community Vision Metrics Tool FHWA 2013b Context-based metrics are critical for livability performance measurement to truly suit the needs of diverse communities and regions. This easy-to-use database enables users to search based on differing criteria to identify a list of potential performance measures. 10. TCRP Report 165: Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual, 3d Ed. Kittelson & Associates, Inc., et al. 2013 This manual categorizes transit performance measures into the operator point of view, passenger point of view, and vehicle point of view. Service measures are distinguished as a subset of performance measures that represents the passenger’s point of view. The manual indicates that, to be useful, service measures need to be easy to measure and interpret. 11. Blueprint for Sustainability: One Department of Transportation’s Pursuit of Performance-Based Accountability Maurer, Mansfield, Lane, and Hunkins 2013 This paper provides detailed information about the process of establishing goals, objectives, and useful sustainability performance measures. The experience of the North Carolina DOT demonstrates the importance of stakeholder collaboration at the outset to reach consensus on a set of performance measure evaluation criteria to ensure that the resulting measures are relevant and useful. 12. Economic Effects of Public Investment in Transportation and Directions for the Future Center for Neighborhood Technology and deBettencourt 2012 The use of economic performance measures is a growing trend in state DOTs. In project development and prioritization, economic development has become a commonly applied criterion. In general, states take a variety of approaches to incorporating economic outcomes in transportation planning and decision-making. This report highlights useful tools and datasets. 13. TCRP Web-Only Document 56: Methodology for Determining the Economic Development Impacts of Transit Projects Chatman et al. 2012 This research might best be used by a relatively large transit agency with a fairly mature transit system that includes a rail component. The United Kingdom and Australia would be good resources for transit agencies looking to inform an analysis of transit’s economic impact, as this research suggests a mature body of practice exists in both countries. 14. NCHRP Report 708: A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measures for Transportation Agencies Zietsman et al. 2011 This report provides resources that would be useful for transportation agencies seeking to improve their performance management approach. The report includes two useful tools: a self-assessment tool to determine how performance measures implementation is proceeding in their department, and a list of performance measures. 15. Evaluating Transportation Economic Development Impacts—Understanding How Transport Policy and Planning Decisions Affect Employment, Incomes, Productivity, Competitiveness, Property Values, and Tax Revenues Litman 2010 In this report, Litman identifies key issues that are not well captured in traditional economic development assessments for transportation projects. The report also highlights the importance of capturing public costs that often are not assessed in economic development, including parking costs. A key point is the notion that a net reduction in vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) may not be the most economically beneficial objective, and instead a reduction in VMT by class of trip might be a more appropriate objective. Table 3. (Continued).

12 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document Transit Agency Publications 16. Dallas Area Rapid Transit: Telling Our Sustainability Story (Presentation) Shelton 2018 In this presentation, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) provides a great example of using a methodical, collaborative process to identify goals, objectives, and performance measures. No. Resource Title Author orPublisher Year Highlights 17. Smart Links, Liveable Cities: 2017 Sustainability Report Mass Transit Railway (MTR) 2018 This report was prepared in accordance with the new GRI Standards. The report includes an entire section devoted to performance measures. In addition to benchmarking against MTR’s own performance, the report benchmarks against other large metros and maps performance measures against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). 18. SEP-TAINABLE SEPTA 2018 This report provides a good example of identifying social and economic sustainability goals with corresponding targets. In their updated sustainability plan, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) was careful to select performance measures that they can feasibly measure. 19. TransLink 2017 Accountability Report: Creating a More Livable Region TransLink 2018 This report provides insight into the way TransLink continues to evolve its reporting on key sustainability priorities. The report was prepared in accordance with the GRI G4 Guidelines. The materiality assessment that was used to highlight important issues to internal and external stakeholders could be replicated by other agencies. 20. BART 2017 Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is an example of a transit agency that tracks a significant number of social and economic performance measures, including a few input/lagging indicators. The BART Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Policy document includes measures specific to TOD. 21. CSR Report 2017 JR East Group (East Japan Railway Company) 2017 The CSR Report 2017 (CSR stands for corporate social responsibility) provides an example of an approach to social and economic sustainability by a transit agency located outside of North America. This report follows the GRI G4 Guidelines. JR East has clearly mapped transit agency goals with their material aspects and identified corresponding key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure performance. 22. Safety Data and Performance Measures in Transit TRACS 2017 Agencies collect minimum safety data to meet FTA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. However, the type of data collected is generally not detailed enough to identify trends and causes. This report, prepared by the FTA’s Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS), stresses the importance of using a combination of leading (predictive) and lagging (outcome) indicators to improve safety. 23. Quality of Life Report 2008–2015 LA Metro 2016 This report provides examples of how a large, multimodal metropolitan transit agency affects quality of life. The report includes several measures related to transit access. 24. Caltrans Strategic Management Plan 2015–2020 Caltrans 2015 The Caltrans Strategic Plan provides a good example of a well-developed set of transportation agency goals with corresponding performance measures; however, the fact that Caltrans has yet to develop the accessibility, livability, and prosperity metrics underscores the difficulty of establishing a methodology to assign scores to these livability factors. Bart Sustainability Action Plan: Final Report (2017a) and BART Board of Directors: Transit-Oriented Development Policy Performance Measures and Targets (2017b) Table 3. (Continued).

State of the Practice 13 No. Resource Title Author orPublisher Year Highlights 25. King County Metro 2014 Sustainability Plan Progress Report King County Metro 2015 This report is an example of reporting social sustainability progress primarily in a qualitative, storytelling (anecdotal narrative) format, which is common. 26. Social Sustainability Guidelines and Metrics for Transportation in Louisville: A Proposal for TARC’s APTA Sustainability Commitment Weaver et al. 2015 This paper highlights the challenges of achieving social and economic sustainability in a mid-size city that has been designed for cars. Pedestrian deaths in Louisville are higher than the national average. Prepared for the Transit Authority of River City (TARC), the paper discusses transit improvements, primarily focused around TOD, as a key strategy to improve safety, among other benefits. 27. Sustainability Report 2013 TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) 2013 TTC’s experience with its Community Relations program emphasizes the need to determine the quality and value of what the performance measures are measuring. TTC’s discussion about absentee rates highlights the benefit of incorporating leading indicators, which can measure actions taken to avoid or improve negative outcomes. 28. Sustainability Reporting Handbook TransLink 2011 An internal TransLink resource, this handbook describes TransLink’s sustainability reporting program and documents the process and reporting framework for preparing the transit agency’s annual sustainability report. 29. Ten Years of Transparency: The Role of Performance Reporting at WSDOT Washington State DOT 2011 The lessons learned from the Washington State DOT, long a leader in performance management among state DOTs, include the importance of clear communication to support and expand a performance management program. Resources Consulted but not Summarized in Appendix A 30. Transit Asset Management Performance Management CMPDD and City of Jackson, Mississippi 2018 31. Community of Metros Key Performance Indicator System CoMET and Nova Metro Benchmarking Groups 2018 This document includes a list of performance indicators tracked by CoMET, which is a global transit agency benchmarking organization. 32. National Transit Database (NTD) [website] FTA n.d. Transit agencies receiving federal funding must report certain data to the NTD, which is accessed online at the NTD website. The research team reviewed the measures that transit agencies are required to report. 33.– 42. APTA Recommended Practices APTA Varies To ensure the research for this TCRP project was consistent with existing APTA guidance, the research team reviewed the following APTA Recommended Practice documents: • Defining Transit Areas of Influence (2009a); • Forming Partnerships to Promote TOD and Joint Development (2009b); • Guidelines for Climate Action Planning (2011a); • Transit Sustainability Guidelines (2011b); • Transit Agency Partnerships to Improve Urban Design and Enhance Service Effectiveness (2012a); • Quantifying and Reporting Transit Sustainability Metrics (2012b); • Bicycle and Transit Integration (2018a); • Social and Economic Sustainability for Transit Agencies (2018b); and • Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transit (2018c). Transit agencies are now required to report certain transit asset management (TAM) data to the National Transit Database (NTD). The City of Jackson, Mississippi, which operates JATRAN, established a TAM Plan with performance measures and targets. Table 3. (Continued).

14 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document within a transit agency. Table 4 lists the transit agencies interviewed in order of largest to smallest based on annual passenger trips. The transit agencies were selected to represent agencies of differing sizes, geographies, and modes. Interviewees from the selected agencies also met one or more of the following criteria: • Served on the project panel or was recommended by the project panel; • Served as a member of the APTA Social and Economic Sustainability Working Group; • Was from an agency that was an APTA Sustainability Commitment Signatory; or • Had attended or presented at the APTA Sustainability and Multimodal Planning Workshop. Appendix B provides a copy of the interview questions and a summary of each interview. 2.2 Findings from the Literature Review Based on a review of the literature listed in Table 3, the research team identified several key practices that focused on adopting social and economic sustainability performance measures. Among the observations in the following list, many apply to performance measurement at large; however, some focus on the current state of the practice of sustainability measurement. • The practice of applying social and economic sustainability measures is evolving with no standards or consistency among transportation agencies at this time. Reporting on sustainability is driven by a desire to be responsive to a local constituency. Generally speaking, the concept of sustainability implies a focus on the triple bottom line of social, economic, and environmental issues, with an emphasis on the long term over the short term. Certain aspects of sustainability are well defined and broadly practiced; but with the excep­ tion of safety, no federal or statewide legislation explicitly targets sustainability as a focus area Transit Agency Urban/Rural 2017 Annual Trips Location Mode(s) Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) Urban 409,580,106 Western United States—Los Angeles, CA Rail, Bus, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Subway TransLink Urban 406,840,000 Canada—Vancouver, BC Bus, SkyTrain (Rapid Transit), SeaBus, West Coast Express (Commuter Rail), Access Transit, Community Shuttles Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Urban 354,635,583 Mid-Atlantic United States—Washington, DC Subway, Bus, Paratransit Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Urban 326,629,466 Northeastern United States—Philadelphia, PA Rail, Bus, BRT, Tram, Trolleybus, Subway Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (CapMetro) Urban 29,967,578 Southern United States—Austin, TX Bus, Rail, Paratransit Transit Authority of River City (TARC) Urban 13,150,822 Southern United States—Louisville, KY Bus Champaign–Urbana Mass Transit District Urban 12,146,959 Midwestern United States—Champaign and Urbana, IL Bus, Paratransit Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) Small Urban 1,179,418 Western United States—Jackson County, OR Bus, Paratransit Table 4. Transit agencies interviewed.

State of the Practice 15 for performance management. Transportation agencies’ efforts to adopt broad­ranging sustainability­oriented performance measures have largely evolved as a result of public demand, which has caused the agencies to take a highly individualized and independent approach to sustainability­oriented performance measurement. • Compared to environmental measures, social and economic sustainability measures are more challenging to define and quantify. Specific challenges include reaching consensus on the goals the measures will be developed to support, defining success, adjusting for con­ text, considering equity and environmental justice, defining the appropriate spatial scale, influencing results, and data collection. For example, social and economic outcomes can vary based on context (e.g., TOD may increase property values but displace low­income popula­ tions). In addition, transit agencies may have little or no control over TOD if they do not own the land surrounding transit stations or have little influence over its development. • Performance targets should be strongly reflected in transit agency goals. If possible, goals, targets, and performance measures should be developed simultaneously. If a performance measure’s target is not useful in helping a transit agency achieve one of its goals, neither the goal nor the performance measure will be meaningful. • The types of performance measures should be considered, and it is desirable to use multiple types of performance measures. The four types of measures that are well captured by the research are outcome (lagging measures of ultimate results), input (leading measures of resources available to the transit agency), output (lagging measures of progress toward outcomes), and process (leading measures of the process­related actions taken by the transit agency). Outcome measures are more meaningful to the traveling public, but as lagging mea­ sures, they represent a realized result. Consequently, they do not present transit agencies with information that enables them to influence the result the way leading measures (input or process measures) do. Moreover, in some cases social and economic outcome measures fall outside the direct control of transit agencies. (For more information, see Section 3.2, “Performance Measure Evaluation.”) • Evaluation criteria are critical in determining whether a performance measure is feasible, relevant, and understandable to stakeholders. Developing evaluation criteria in concert with stakeholders who include those responsible for gathering data (transportation professionals) and customers of the transit agency (e.g., the traveling public, elected officials) ensures that the resulting performance measures are grounded and relevant. • External collaboration among transit agencies and jurisdictions is critical for several reasons. Performance measures may be wholly or partially outside of the transit agency’s area of control. It may be necessary to develop relationships between transit agencies and other organizations in order to collect data and/or to demonstrate meaningful progress. For example, various agencies may share compatible objectives; by developing relationships with outside organizations, these agencies may be able to collaborate on a shared performance measure that better reflects the agencies’ activities in achieving their compatible objectives. • Assessment is a useful tool. Transit agencies may use self­assessment tools that help them understand their level of maturity and progress toward supporting a sustainability policy system. A materiality assessment may help to highlight priorities, both within an organization and as perceived by the public served by the organization. The GRI Standards (GRI 2018) define the concept of materiality in detail. Topics are considered material if they can “reasonably be considered important for reflecting the organization’s economic, environmental, and social impacts, or influencing the decisions of stakeholders” (GRI 2018). Conducting a materiality assessment enables an organization to identify which topics are most relevant (material) to the organization and focus their sustainability program on those topics. • Iteration with regard to performance management is critical. Transit agencies generally are not encouraged to begin performance measurement programs with the goal of maintaining the same set of measures for an indefinite period. Rather, agencies are encouraged to revisit the process

16 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document of developing performance measures periodically. Once measures have been identified, those measures should be used to inform goals, objectives, targets, and outcomes on a regular basis. • Progress toward achieving performance measures should be communicated clearly and in a way that is meaningful to a variety of audiences. Performance measurement and reporting can be an incredibly effective tool to increase the public’s confidence in the transit agency, but it must be supported by clear communication that highlights key points in an accessible manner. To that end, some transit agencies may find it beneficial to produce a stand­alone sustainability report that calls attention to the agency’s sustainability efforts. Transit agencies also may choose to integrate sustainability into other reporting documents, but when doing so they should be explicit about the measurements’ connection to sustainability outcomes. Mapping performance measures against other reporting standards (e.g., the GRI Standards, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and those of the International Association of Public Transport) also may make performance measures relevant to a wide variety of audiences. • Transit agencies report on social and economic sustainability performance; however, reporting can be improved. Most transit agency public CSR and sustainability reports include safety performance measures. Some transit agencies include limited economic sustainability performance measures, which focus primarily on transit agency financial sustainability. Social sustainability performance measures are largely absent, with the exception of an overall cus­ tomer satisfaction score and some basic measures related to workforce development (e.g., diversity and retention rates). Some transit agencies also include performance measures related to accessibility (e.g., percent of accessible stations and vehicles). Of the transit agen­ cies reviewed, only a few include measures related to environmental justice. When included, social sustainability initiatives often are discussed as stories within the report. • Transit agencies that use the GRI Standards to guide their sustainability reports generally have more developed performance management frameworks. CSR and sustain­ ability reports prepared in accordance with the GRI Standards (GRI 2018) include more performance measures compared to other reports. The GRI Standards provide a frame­ work for sustainability reporting from stakeholder mapping and engagement to conducting materiality assessments, identifying key issues, and selecting performance measures. Important factors that are not currently captured by many agencies’ approach to sustainability but could inform future practice also were highlighted in the research, as follows: • Even the best performance measure may not reflect transit’s contribution to economic development. It is challenging to directly associate economic and land development benefits to transit investment. In addition, it is generally understood that transit supports reduced parking costs and reduced vehicle ownership costs, and encourages agglomeration economies. However, the relationship between transit and these benefits has not been extensively studied. It is not possible for a transit agency to include a performance measure for cost of vehicle ownership because the relationship remains theoretical. The research team identified this as an area for potential additional research. • Evaluation criteria should be used not just for the individual performance measures, but also for the performance management system as a whole. Litman (2016) emphasizes that, although performance measures should be evaluated individually for quality, the performance measures as a whole should be: – Comprehensive (i.e., reflect a broad range of sustainable and economic, social, and environmental impacts); – Cost effective to collect; – Supported by strong quality assurance practices; and – Accessible. Evaluation criteria should be applied against the entire measurement system to ensure that agencies are prepared to track and maintain the data needed to inform the measures.

State of the Practice 17 • Performance measures do not necessarily need to be tracked at the same intervals in order to be relevant. For some measures, data may be reasonably collected on a frequent basis. For other measures, the difficulty of collecting data may make less­frequent collection (e.g., annually or every 5 years) a practical necessity. In other words, it is more important to use a feasible, consistent interval to track each performance measure than it is to use the same interval to track all the performance measures. • Not all performance measures need to have defined targets in order to be effective. Agen­ cies with more mature performance management programs may find it useful to set specific targets; agencies with less experience may choose to set a directional goal. 2.3 Findings from Transit Agency Interviews To supplement observations from the literature with key observations from transit agencies, the research team reached out to representatives from eight transit agencies and asked them to share their agencies’ experience with implementing a sustainability­oriented performance­based planning and programming approach. The eight transit agencies (listed in Table 4) were chosen to represent a variety of modes, including rail, bus, BRT, subway, ferry, commuter rail, paratransit, and shuttle. Summaries of the interviews are provided in Appendix B. Some observations that were shared in common by officials at different agencies are summarized as follows: • Measures that relate to social and economic sustainability often are not framed in social and economic terms. Several transit agencies indicated that their agency have not formally identified social and economic sustainability priorities. However, these transit agencies gen­ erally support social and economic sustainability programs in some way, often on an ad­hoc basis without establishing clear goals, performance measures, and targets. • Measures that are more directly tied to social and economic sustainability may not be well captured in agencies’ current performance measurement systems. Many transit agencies have programs or policies that address social and economic issues or needs (e.g., training programs), but the agencies do not track them because the resulting performance data cannot be tied to outcomes that are considered more salient by the traveling public (like the condition of the fleet). Some of the agencies interviewed indicated that social and economic programs that may have a greater impact (e.g., special bus service for battered women) also are more difficult to track, and lend themselves to qualitative reporting (anecdotal narratives) rather than reporting based on quantitative measurements. • Data collection and analysis are issues for many transit agencies. The quality of performance measurement depends heavily on the quality of data in terms of its availability, accuracy, and consistency. Transit agencies interviewed report that some data is collected at irregular inter­ vals. Transit agencies also may be limited by the systems they use to collect and analyze data internally. Transit agencies may have access to data but, lacking a suitable framework, struggle to develop the data into meaningful performance measures. Smaller transit agencies indicated that collecting and accessing data often is time consuming and challenging. Agencies interviewed also indicated that, for certain geographic areas, some measures are easily tracked on an annual basis, whereas gathering regional­level information requires additional time and may more fea­ sible if it is tracked at a different interval. • Internal collaboration with different departments is necessary to develop a comprehensive suite of measures. Transit agencies currently track data to meet various reporting require­ ments. Some of the data that is already collected also could be used to inform social and economic performance measures, thus minimizing duplication of the data collection effort. The sustainability team may not have authority over the performance measure, however, and therefore must coordinate with the appropriate internal stakeholders.

18 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document • Social and economic measures may include items that are not within the agency’s area of control. Several of the transit agencies interviewed commented on this challenge. For example, one official noted that the agency currently has a “walk score target” for each station, but the agency does not have the resources to improve walkability meaningfully. At least one agency official indicated that they would continue to track progress toward achieving certain supported outcomes, but they would not include a goal aligned with the performance measures because achieving such a goal was outside of their control. • Partnerships with outside organizations are key. Where local jurisdictions have prioritized certain programs, the transit agency may be more likely to make additional investments or realign its own priorities to align with the jurisdictions’ priorities. Partnering with outside organizations also can enable access to additional data that can inform the performance measures. • Transit agencies eliminate social and economic performance measures for various reasons. Based on the transit interviews conducted, the difficulty of obtaining reliable data is a key reason for excluding a measure. Other reasons include changes in reporting requirements, misalignment with other transit agency data tracking, lack of control over the outcome, stakeholder feedback, and evolving priorities. • Safety is considered foundational by many transit agencies. If riders do not feel safe using transit, they will not use the service. All transit agencies track and report on minimum safety performance measures as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Agencies that receive federal funding also track and report on safety performance as required by the FTA. Safety is a key focus for most transit agencies, but the research team observed that the performance measures that are used to track and improve safety may be limited. The measures currently tracked to meet federal reporting requirements focus only on outcome indicators and often do not involve the level of data granularity that would enable transit agencies to identify and solve problems proactively. It should be noted that the FTA’s recently published Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan Final Rule, which went into effect in July 2019, requires agencies receiving federal funding to develop safety management systems (SMSs) that include safety performance targets. • Moving from measures to targets is a challenge, even for transit agencies with mature performance management systems. Several of the transit agencies interviewed expressed that measurement is the first step, but setting operational performance targets represents an additional level of commitment. The following observations that came out of the interviews may include replicable best practices: • Linking the performance management team with financial capacity may be an effective tool. One transit agency indicated that housing the performance measurement reporting team within the financial team ensured that a similar level of rigor was applied to perfor­ mance measurement as was applied to financial analysis. • Third-party data collection and/or validation can facilitate data availability and reliability. One transit agency indicated that it uses third parties to conduct customer service surveys. This practice may ensure that the data collected is reliable, and the customer may be more likely to provide honest answers. One transit agency used a third party to conduct surveys through a panel of key stakeholders. In this case, the results were weighted to ensure that responses were representative of the region. Using a third party to audit survey or data collec­ tion results also can help with validating the information being reported, providing the transit agency and its stakeholders’ confidence in the numbers. • The pace of instituting performance management may be driven by capacity building. Transit agencies may not know how to begin working with performance measurement systems without first receiving training. Frameworks such as the International Organization

State of the Practice 19 for Standardization (ISO) 14001 Environmental Management System Standard and the GRI Standards (GRI 2018) have helped some transit agencies start performance management programs. • Tailoring communication on social and economic sustainability to the agency’s stake- holders is important. Some transit agencies may find it useful to prepare separate reports that speak directly to the agency’s commitment to sustainability. Agencies also may find it more appropriate to integrate communication about sustainability performance measures into other reporting. Various stakeholders may be interested in differing aspects of social and economic sustainability performance. Whereas some stakeholders may be interested in tracking the transit agency’s quantitative performance measures, other stakeholders may be more interested in and benefit from qualitative, narrative reports that focus on stories and anecdotes.

Next: Section 3 - Performance Measures »
Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document Get This Book
×
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

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.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!