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27 S E C T I O N 4 Incorporating sustainability into a performance-based planning and programming approach requires an understanding of both sustainability and principles of performance measurement. Several excellent resources are available for reference by transit agencies, as detailed in this section under the heading âReport.â In general, operationalizing performance measures should follow five broad steps (see Figure 1). Each step is isolated to emphasize the likely transfer of responsibility that occurs when transitioning from each step to the next. The groups of stakeholders involved with each step may overlap, but including a variety of stakeholders is crucial for each step. The makeup of each group also will change depending on the number of times the process is or has been iterated. Early in the process, it is critical to include the perspectives of the traveling public and local communities to inform the transit agencyâs goals, either directly or indirectly, to ensure that the publicâs concerns are represented in the definition of sustainability and the transit agencyâs approach to it (Step 1). Technical staff, who will be responsible for collecting data and imple- menting plans, play an essential role in ensuring that individual objectives are realistic and speak to the transit agencyâs internal priorities (Step 2). Because the public is the ultimate audience for reporting, public considerations also must play a pivotal role in establishing measures (Step 3). Technical staff will be engaged in the lionâs share of work during implemen- tation and evaluation, so their perspective is critical to developing this phase (Step 4). To build support for performance-based planning and for sustainability, transit agency leadership may play a larger role in reporting (Step 5). Sustainability-focused exercises are undertaken at the discretion of the transit agency; therefore, it is critical to have appropriate resources and input present at every step to ensure that the process is successful. Sustainability also informs the way the process is conducted. In Figure 1, this is indicated by the foundational âsustainability principlesâ underlying all other steps in the framework. The first time the performance management cycle is conducted, sustainability is likely to be a stand-alone exercise, 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 transit agency staff responsible for carrying out sustainability tasks is likely to change in a similar way. When sustainability is first considered, it is common for the process to be overseen by a single individual or by a task force within the transit agency. As sustainability becomes more institutionalized within the transit agency, it is likely to driven by a broader coalition of stakeholders within the agency. As currently practiced, the performance management cycle emphasizes measures that fall under the control of a single transit agency or organization; however, transit agencies and other Operationalizing the Performance Measures
28 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document planning organizations are encouraged to continue to build relationships with outside organiza- tions to develop and support shared goals. This relationship building can result in collaboration between organizations and, ultimately, in a set of outcomes that are more meaningful to the traveling public. Many transit agencies establish stakeholder advisory groups to inform decisions such as changes in service. A stakeholder group could be established to inform the transit agencyâs sustainability goals and objectives, as was done with the LA Metro Sustainability Council (see Box 1). Box 1. LA Metro Sustainability Council The LA Metro Sustainability Council was formed to inform and improve Metroâs sustainability program by developing targets, metrics, and strategies to assist Metro in achieving sustainability program goals. The Council objectives include: â¢ To advise in the development of Metroâs sustainability goals, established targets and performance measures, and assist in the tracking and reporting on a quarterly basis; â¢ To improve understanding of our constituents and stakeholders of the sustainability-related efforts and opportunities at LA Metro; and â¢ To provide input on the following priorities for fiscal year 2019: (1) Climate Action and Adaptation Plan; (2) Green Procurement Policy; and (3) Resiliency Framework. The Council consists of external stakeholders from business, academia, the public sector, and community groups. Source: LA Metro (n.d.) Figure 1. Performance-based management framework.
Operationalizing the Performance Measures 29 The example detailed in Table 9 shows the steps of the performance-based planning and programming framework as focused on one goal, improving mobility and accessibility. As the example shows, the chosen objectives reflect actions the transit agency can take directly to influence and promote the regionâs mobility and accessibility. The chosen performance measures reflect the transit agencyâs current conditions and resources, and realistic targets are identified based on the best available data. As it proceeds through the evaluation phase in Step 4, the transit agency can consider (1) how to better achieve these goals and objectives, and (2) how to revise all aspects of the process (e.g., if it is appropriate to establish or add new goals and objectives). Finally, as the transit agency achieves successes, those accomplish- ments can be used to build support for the transit agency and its sustainability objectives. Each of the five steps is described in more detail in the remaining parts of this section. Step Example Key Questions 1. Set Goals â¢ Improve mobility and accessibility â¢ What do our stakeholders care about? 2. Determine Objectives â¢ Improve transit access for mobility-impaired riders â¢ How can the transit agency contribute to this goal in the most meaningful way? What modes are relevant, and what geographic scale is appropriate? â¢ Who needs to be at the table to ensure that the agency understands what resources are necessary to achieve this objective? â¢ How much capital is required in order to make the improvements? â¢ How will the projects be financed? â¢ What projects will not be financed if these projects are prioritized? â¢ When should the transit agency aim to complete the necessary capital improvement projects? 3. Establish Measures 1. Percentage of stations/stops that are ADA accessible 2. Percentage of vehicles that are ADA accessible 3. Percentage of riders who are mobility impaired, by mode 4. Overall satisfaction score among mobility-impaired riders â¢ What mobility data does the agency currently track? â¢ How many stations/stops and vehicles are currently ADA accessible? â¢ Which stations currently require improvements? â¢ How many vehicles must be purchased or retrofitted to make 100% of vehicles accessible? â¢ What targets should be set? 4. Implement and Evaluate 1. 100% of stations/stops ADA accessible after 5 years 2. 5% increase in vehicles that are ADA accessible 3. Mobility-impaired ridership increases 25% â¢ Is the transit agency observing an increase in mobility-impaired riders? â¢ What other obstacles prevent mobility-impaired riders from using transit? â¢ As the agency revisits this goal, what other performance measures could be considered to improve transit access for mobility-impaired riders? 5. Report â¢ CEO ribbon-cutting ceremony for the last station to be made ADA accessible â¢ Notification on the transit agencyâs social media sites â¢ Inclusion in annual performance reporting documents â¢ How can success be used to (1) communicate the value of transit and (2) build support for sustainability efforts? Table 9. Sample performance-based planning and programming cycle.
30 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document 4.1 Set Goals Sustainability goals should reflect the triple bottom line of social, economic, and environmental issues, and focus on the long term rather than the short term (Booz Allen Hamilton 2014). At the same time, the practice of sustainability goal-setting is evolving within transit agencies. The process is driven largely by public demand, and even though common themes have begun to emerge, the process continues to be customized to each new planning context. Goals should be reflective of sustainability outcomes that fall directly under the control of the transit agency as well as broader sustainability outcomes that are meaningful to transit users. A self-assessment tool may be useful to determine the transit agencyâs level of progress toward implementing a sustainability policy system (Zietsman et al. 2011). When a sustain- ability framework is implemented for the first time, the stakeholders establishing these goals likely will be made up of a subcommittee or may even consist of a single individual within the organization. As goal-setting yields results and institutional support for sustainability grows, the group of stakeholders can expand to include representatives from other key groups within the transit agency, including leadership. Resources such as the Performance-Based Planning and Programming Guidebook (FHWA 2013a) recommend that goal-setting occur with input from internal and external stakeholders. This inclusiveness ensures that goals are connected to outcomes that are important to all of the transit agencyâs stakeholders. A materiality assess- ment is another tool that can be used to identify which topics are most relevant (or material). This tool is defined in detail by the GRI Standards (GRI 2018). Box 2 presents an example of how TransLink used the GRI Standards to conduct a materiality assessment. Goal-setting often evolves depending on a transit agencyâs level of experience with regard to sustainability. Many organizations that are beginning the process of incorporating sustain- ability will develop stand-alone processes that specifically address principles of sustainability. In this situation, sustainability goals and sustainability performance measures may feed into a specific sustainability report, such as the award-winning report produced by SEPTA in 2018 (SEPTA 2018). Box 3 provides more information on SEPTAâs goals related to social and eco- nomic sustainability. As an organization gains experience, sustainability often begins to be included throughout the approach to performance-based planning and programming. Good examples of this include LA Metro and TransLink; both agencies have begun to incorporate sustainability considerations into all aspects of planning, and no longer consider sustainability in isolation from other planning efforts. The environmental goals associated with a sustainability framework may be familiar to transit agencies, but social and economic goals may be less familiar. The goal elements included in the APTA Recommended Practice (APTA 2018b) provide transit agencies with a useful starting point to develop more specific goals that reflect their individual priorities. Six goals are recom- mended with regard to social and economic outcomes (APTA 2018b, pp. 2, 6, 8, and 14): â¢ Community Building and Engagement. Engage diverse groups to improve transit service, create hospitality in customer service, and demonstrate goodwill through engagement tech- niques and commitment to good design in the public realm. â¢ Economic Impact. Support the economic growth of the region and the nation. â¢ Employees and Workforce. Create a conducive and supportive environment for all transit employees. â¢ Financial. Ensure the reliability of transit services through financial stability. â¢ Mobility and Accessibility. Make it easier for people of all abilities to affordably and reason- ably access different goods and services to meet their daily needs. â¢ Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Ensure that operations are safe and do not compromise the well-being of riders, staff, or the public.
Operationalizing the Performance Measures 31 These six goals also are discussed in Section 1 under âSocial and Economic Sustainability for Public Transportation.â Goal-setting typically precedes establishing performance measures, but it is useful to estab- lish goals, objectives, and measures together. Performance measures can help ground and vali- date goals and objectives. This effect was observed during workshops conducted by the North Carolina DOT (Maurer et al. 2013). Several objectives were revised or removed if the workshop participants were unable to define reasonable measures to track an outcome; however, the Box 2. Incorporating Public Input into Goal-Setting The GRI Standards provides guidance to transit agencies on conducting a materiality assessment to identify topics that may be important to consider in sustainability reporting. In 2017, TransLink, the transportation authority responsible for public transportation in the Metro Vancouver Regional District, completed a two-year materiality assessment (in accordance with the previous version of GRI, the GRI G4 Guidelines) that used feedback gathered by survey to determine the transit agencyâs priorities. Both internal and external stake- holders were questioned on issues of governance, economic, environmental, and social responsibility. This engagement effort resulted in 17 topics being identified as highest priority. The following list shows the top 30 items identified through the assessment: 1. Safety and security of transit customers 2. Investing in infrastructure 3. Satisfaction of transit customers 4. Air pollution (from transit operations) 5. Employee safety and wellness 6. Minimizing overcrowding on transit services 7. Minimizing crime on TransLink property 8. Ensuring transit fares are affordable 9. Accessibility for mobility, hearing, and visually impaired customers 10. Employee training and education 11. Data privacy and security 12. Energy consumption 13. Climate change/greenhouse gas emissions 14. Increasing transit ridership 15. Satisfaction of employees 16. Public disclosure of data and targets 17. Planning for extreme weather events 18. Managing sustainability risks 19. Keeping TransLinkâs operating costs low 20. TransLink Senior Leadership oversight and input into sustainability strategy 21. Waste diversion 22. Investing in innovations (new bus technology) 23. Stakeholder engagement programs 24. Environmental screening of suppliers/contractors 25. TransLink Board oversight and input into Sustainability 26. Satisfaction of non-transit customers 27. Water consumption and reuse 28. Green buildings 29. Social screening of suppliers and contractors 30. Investing in the community (sponsorship/donations) Sources: TransLink (2017), GRI (2015)
32 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document North Carolina DOT elected to retain several more aspirational objectives (such as economic development), with the assumption that emerging strategies would support development of measures in the future (Maurer et al. 2013). 4.2 Determine Objectives Goals are defined broadly, but objectives are designed to be action oriented. Todd Litman characterizes objectives as âspecific ways to achieve goalsâ (Litman 2016, p. 10). Whereas goals may be formed in a general way, the better to encompass a broad range of outcomes, each objective provides a clear path for the transit agency to follow in support of a goal. This does not necessarily imply that transit agencies must be solely responsible for creating or achieving objectives: During objective-setting, agencies may engage outside organizations (including the metropolitan planning organization or regional planning commission, county governments, health organizations, and others) to develop shared objectives. The shared objective of Trans- Link and the City of Vancouver that âhalf of all trips be made either by walking, biking, or transit by 2040â offers one such example. Box 4 provides an example of a shared goal that could prompt development of shared objectives. Establishing an objective effectively creates a bridge that ties the goal to the performance measure. Objectives are distinct from goals in that they are specific and measurable (character- istics that also come into play later in the cycle, when evaluating performance measures). Many Box 3. Goal Setting: SEP-TAINABLE 2020 SEPTA launched its first award-winning 5-year sustainability plan in 2011, and recently released its second-generation plan, SEP-TAINABLE 2020. Two of the transit agencyâs goal areas relate specifically to social and economic outcomes. All of the agencyâs goals address the triple bottom line of sustainability. The complete list of SEPTAâs 2020 goals are as follows: Natural Environment â¢ Goal 1. Reduce SEPTAâs carbon footprint â¢ Goal 2. Improve energy efficiency â¢ Goal 3. Improve water efficiency â¢ Goal 4. Reduce stormwater runoff â¢ Goal 5. Reduce and reuse waste Healthy Communities and Workforce â¢ Goal 6. Integrate with livable communities â¢ Goal 7. Improve access to local food via transit â¢ Goal 8. Develop a highly skilled, healthy, and versatile workforce â¢ Goal 9. Support regional business equity Economic Vitality â¢ Goal 10. Increase ridership â¢ Goal 11. Improve operating expense performance â¢ Goal 12. Institutionalize environmental management practices â¢ Goal 13: Financial value of sustainability Source: SEPTA (2018)
Operationalizing the Performance Measures 33 of the criteria used to craft clear objectives also are used to evaluate performance measures. An often-used memory technique for applying these criteria is to ask if the objective or perfor- mance measure is SMART (i.e., is it Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, and Time-bound) (FHWA 2013a). The Performance-Based Planning and Programming Guidebook (FHWA 2013a) outlines a useful process for establishing objectives. The FHWA acknowledges that transit agencies initially may develop general objectives but then refine them over time to be specific, measurable, and time-bound. For example, a transit agency could start with a general objective, but as familiarity with sustainability and performance management increases, the agency could later develop a SMART version. An example of a general objective might be to âincrease the number of requests for proposals (RFPs) that include sustainability criteria.â A SMART version would modify the Box 4. Example Shared Objective: Addressing Homelessness People experiencing homelessness often shelter in public transit facilities and vehicles, which can result in real or perceived safety issues to transit passengers and employees. TCRP Synthesis of Practice 121: Transit Agency Practices in Inter- acting with People Who Are Homeless (Boyle 2016) describes a continuum of transit agency responses to this issue: 1. Not our problem 2. Riders are unhappyâdo something! 3. Enforcement 4. Partnerships AND enforcement In 2012, SEPTA partnered with the City of Philadelphia and Project HOME to open the Hub of Hope during the winter as a walk-in engagement center located in the concourses under the Two Penn Center building in SEPTAâs Suburban Station. Project goals included: â¢ Transition people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing; â¢ Provide easy, centralized access to integrated health care services and connect people to ongoing primary care; and â¢ Deepen the understanding of necessary, strategic, and effective tools and methods to better assist and end homelessness for people who were living in the subway concourses. The literature reviewed by the research team did not list the agenciesâ specific objectives, but plausible shared objectives likely centered on measurable results (e.g., âReduce the number of individuals experiencing homelessness that live in the subway concourse by X percent by 2022â). Since the opening of the Hub of Hope, there have been more than 36,000 visits to the Hub and 1,429 placements into shelter and treatment programs. In 2018, the Hub of Hope was established as a permanent facility offering a safe place for individuals experiencing homelessness to have a cup of coffee, take a shower and wash laundry, and speak with case managers to find permanent housing. The Hub continues to facilitate opportunities to connect individuals to treatment, medical care, and housing. Sources: Boyle (2016), Project Home (2018)
34 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document general objective to include a target and a date (e.g., âinclude sustainability criteria in 80% of RFPs by 2020â). In developing objectives, transit agencies may find it useful to consider the following (FHWA 2013a): â¢ Key Focus Areas. What aspects of the goal are most important? â¢ Purpose of Travel. What type(s) of travel are affected (e.g., commute, educational, leisure, errands)? â¢ Mode of Travel. Should the objective be specific to one or more mode(s)? â¢ Geographic Scale. How does location affect the development of the objective? As with many other parts of the performance management process, evaluating objectives alongside goals (or through an iterative process) will ensure that goals are well grounded and that objectives focus on appropriate goals. Considering performance measures alongside objectives will ensure that objectives have a clear path to implementation and have appro- priate targets. Using an iterative process that highlights the relationship between the steps of the performance management process is useful to ensure that the transit agencyâs goals can be implemented effectively. Objectives included in the APTA Recommended Practice speak strongly to social and economic outcomes (APTA 2018b). APTA recommends objectives that link to the six goal elements. Table 10 presents the complete list of 21 objectives. These APTA objectives have not been made specific and measurable because they are intended to apply to a wide range of transit agencies; however, the objectives provides a useful starting point from which transit agencies can tailor the objectives to their specific situations and goals. For example, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) established a goal related to safety and security that is similar to the APTA goal of safety and emergency preparedness. DART then established a detailed, specific objective that follows the APTA objective of security (see Box 5). Goal Objective Community Building and Engagement â¢ Collaboration and partnerships â¢ Community engagement â¢ Good design elements â¢ Rider engagement Economic Impact â¢ Measure and communicate economic benefits of transit â¢ Politically leverage economic benefits â¢ Understand distributional effects on specific areas or groups â¢ Extend economic reach of public transportation Employees and Workforce â¢ Employee recruiting â¢ Employee retention â¢ Organizational culture and workforce engagement Financial â¢ Fiscal responsibility â¢ Procurement strategies â¢ Sustainable investments Mobility and Accessibility â¢ Access â¢ Affordability (housing and transportation) â¢ Multimodal connectivity Safety and Emergency Preparedness â¢ Emergency preparedness â¢ Health and wellness â¢ Safety â¢ Security Source: Adapted from APTA Recommended Standard (2018b) Table 10. APTA goals and objectives.
Operationalizing the Performance Measures 35 4.3 Establish Measures Taken as a whole, performance measures provide a framework for evaluating a transit agencyâs progress toward goals. The right assembly of performance measures also will provide meaningful evidence of progress to a diverse group of internal and external stakeholders, some of whose needs will differ from those of the transit agency. Performance measures also should provide valuable feedback about the transit agencyâs efforts with regard to other aspects of the performance-based planning approach. Performance measures can be used to: â¢ Clarify the definition of goals, â¢ Provide a reference for target-setting and a baseline for planning efforts, â¢ Inform policy decisions as transit agencies consider alternatives, â¢ Consider priorities for the next planning cycle, and â¢ Communicate the value of transit to the public (FHWA 2013a). Transit agencies must, however, consider performance measures relative to the transit agency context, including: â¢ What resources are available for sustainability efforts and performance management, â¢ What types of performance measures are needed, â¢ The quality of both individual performance measures and the collective assembly of perfor- mance measures, and â¢ How best to prioritize measures. The process of developing specific performance measures to meet all these criteria is not insubstantial, and continues to evolve as organizations move further in the direction of transpar- ency and accountability to stakeholders. As with the development goals, the process involves a cycle of selecting, refining, and evaluating the measures. 4.3.1 Select Measures A main focus of this project has been to develop a list of social and economic sustainability performance measures that can be used track a transit agencyâs performance toward achieving social and economic outcomes. The measures presented in Section 3 under the heading âList of Performance Measuresâ and provided in the Social and Economic Performance Measures Data- base tool that accompanies this report focus on public transit and transit service measures that agencies can use as a starting point in developing their own customized social and economic sustainability performance measures. For any agency, the ultimate list of specific, appropriate Box 5. DART Social Sustainability Objective â¢ Goal. Improve customersâ sense of safety and security at facilities and on vehicles through improved awareness, enhanced design features, and increased visibility. â¢ Objective. Keep our riders safe by maintaining security incident rates equal to or better than that of the communities in which we operate. â¢ Performance Measure. Percentage of customers reporting that they feel safe riding DART. Source: Shelton (2018)
36 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document performance measures may begin with that list but will be refined based on agency characteristics, requests from key stakeholders, and data availability. For sustainability-oriented efforts, an important factor to consider is the level of effort and level of expense required to obtain data and report on each objective. Unlike federally required National Transit Database (NTD) measures, objectives related to sustainability are left to the discretion of transit agencies. However, some of the NTD measures can be used to support social and economic sustainability, such as those related to financial performance, safety, and transit asset management. For example, transit agencies must now report asset inventory, condition assessments, and per- formance targets, and must provide a narrative report to the NTD (FTA 2017). Performance mea- sures that track the percentage of revenue vehicles that have exceeded the useful life benchmark also demonstrate a commitment to a transit agencyâs financial sustainability. Measures related to transit convenience and availability (e.g., travel time, hours of service, average travel delay) are important indicators of transit accessibility, and could be used to evaluate goals related to improv- ing or expanding transit access. An example of using an existing performance measure to support a social sustainability objective is provided by DART, which uses on-time performance to support the objective of improving reliability for passengers (see Box 6). Certain transit agencies that receive federal funding must also report safety performance measures in accordance with the recently published Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP) Final Rule, which went into effect in July 2019 (FTA 2018). This rule requires transit agencies to develop safety management systems (SMSs) that include safety performance targets. Transit agencies are encouraged to consult the requirements and guidance related to this new rule when developing their safety performance measures. Transit agencies must be mindful of available resources to ensure that the process of perfor- mance management is itself sustainable and can be maintained over a period of years. Instead of selecting a long list of measures, it may be more desirable to focus on a smaller subset of measures that can be tracked meaningfully over a period of years. If certain measures are already being tracked, it may be useful to prioritize these measures as the foundation of the agencyâs approach to performance-based planning and programming. OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) reporting requirements also involve tracking performance measures that relate to social and economic sustainability. Some transit agencies may also use voluntary reporting frameworks such those developed for the GRI Standards and the Community of Metros (CoMET) and Nova Metro Benchmarking Groups. When assembling a suite of potential performance measures, an important consideration is creating an appropriate mix of the types (i.e., input, process, output, and outcome) of performance Box 6. DART Example Using Transit Service Measures â¢ Goal: Grow ridership by improving rider experience through reliable, inclusive, universally accessible, comfortable, and convenient transit services. â¢ Objective: Improve reliability to help all riders get where they need to go on time. â¢ Performance Measure: On-time performance by mode: â Bus = 90% or better, â Paratransit = 92% or better, and â Rail = 95% or better. Source: Shelton (2018)
Operationalizing the Performance Measures 37 measures desired (Litman 2016). (See Section 3, Table 7 for a refined list of transit and perfor- mance measures categorized by type.) The differing measures are useful in different ways. Certain types of measures (usually outcome measures) tend to be more meaningful to the traveling public and local communities, whereas other measures may be more reflective of transit agency actions. Most organizations, including transit agencies, primarily report outcome measures, and many do so exclusively. Outcome measures often are easier to measure and are more understandable to internal and external stakeholders. However, outcome measures simply report results. As such, they are difficult to influence and have limited use as tools for improvement. Input and process measures are more challenging to measure, but they are easier to influence. Moreover, an input or process measure can âserve as a catalyst for change,â supporting improvements in social and economic sustainability outcomes (Blair and OâToole 2010). Box 7 provides an example of how the different types of performance measures can be used to improve safety. 4.3.2 Refine Measures for Agency Context When appropriate measures have been selected, performance measures can be assembled to reflect key characteristics of the transit agency. All of the performance measures discussed under the heading âList of Performance Measuresâ in Section 3 and included in the companion ExcelÂ® database may be re-formulated based on the count, measure, qualifier, and normalization factor. This process can be used to reflect the transit agencyâs institutional capacity, the publicâs desired frequency of reporting, and other factors. Examples of performance measures broken down according to this schema are included in Table 11. The APTA Recommended Practice on Quantifying and Reporting Transit Sustainability Metrics (APTA 2012b) includes several normalizing factors that can provide critical context for each transit agency. Selecting an appropriate normalizing factor is critical to tracking transit agency performance over time and for comparing performance among various transit agencies. Table 12 defines each normalization factor identified in the 2012 document. 4.3.3 Evaluate Measures Once the performance measures have been selected and refined, it is important to apply evaluation criteria to ensure that the measures are appropriate and achievable. This evaluation process also enables transit agencies to (1) prioritize measures, (2) identify the most critical items to track, and (3) in the face of limited resources, determine which measures out of a long Box 7. Improving Safety Performance Using Different Types of Performance Measures â¢ Goal: Reduce accidents at rail crossings â¢ Output Measures: Total number of at-grade crossings â¢ Outcome Measure: Number of accidents at rail crossings â¢ Input Measures: â Number of at-grade crossings eliminated â Investment in additional at-grade rail crossing safety measures â Number of near-misses reported â¢ Process Measures: Process in-place to report near-misses Note: Refer to Safety Data and Performance Measures in Transit (TRACS 2017) for more information on the benefits of using multiple types of performance measures.
38 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document Count Measure Qualifier Normalization factor Number of planning studies led or collaborated on per year Percent of transit access intersections that are ADA compliant (none) Percent increase in value of land near rail station areas relative to other areas Number or percent of interviewers who received anti-bias training (none) Total and percent revenue (none) by type (e.g., capital, operating) and by source (e.g., fare, local, state, federal) (Dollars) Public transportation expenditures (Public transportation) per capita (Measured in dollars or miles funded) Sidewalk connections, bike facility connections, pedestrian safety improvements included in project planning and design (none) Table 11. Examples of performance measure count, measure, qualifier, and normalizing factor. list should be the object of attention. The Performance-Based Planning and Programming Guide- book focuses on SMART criteria (FHWA 2013a). In Well Measured, Litman (2016) recom- mends a similar list of criteria but includes several additional factors that should be considered specifically for sustainability-oriented performance measures. Box 8 provides a list of guiding questions that are well suited for use as criteria for evaluating sustainability performance mea- sures. As listed, the questions provide a high-level evaluation; they can be adjusted as desired to focus on more detailed criteria. The question of scale is particularly useful for transit agencies newly embarking on perfor- mance management. Realistically, a transit agency may not be able to track all expenditures on local suppliers, but an agency can focus on tracking specific products and services. Using these types of criteria, the agency can reframe performance measures to make them more actionable and relevant. The guiding questions in Box 8 synthesize elements of the SMART approach with other feedback collected during this research effort. In addition to evaluating the individual measures, it is important to evaluate the collective suite of performance management measures and the system at large for many of the same factors and for completeness. Evaluating the entire suite of performance measures helps ensure that it captures all aspects of sustainability. For this part of the evaluation, the following questions can be used to evaluate the strength of the approach and commitment to all aspects of sustainability: â¢ Do the measures included reflect all aspects of sustainability, including environmental, social, and economic outcomes? â¢ Do some measures explicitly include all transit riders, including riders with mobility impair- ments or other functional needs; riders of all age groups; and riders who may belong to low- income, minority, or other transportation-disadvantaged populations? â¢ Do these measures, taken as a whole, reflect the goals chosen by the transit agency? â¢ Do these measures contribute meaningfully to the agencyâs sustainability objectives? These guiding questions provide a starting point for transit agencies. The questions may be refined based on an individual transit agencyâs specific needs and resources. Like the list of per- formance measures, the list of questions used as criteria when evaluating the measures should not be so extensive that it becomes a cumbersome tool.
Operationalizing the Performance Measures 39 Normalization Factor Description Purpose Passenger-Miles Traveled (PMT) The cumulative sum of the distances ridden by each passenger. To measure service consumed in a way that considers productivity and operational efficiency and captures effects to increase ridership or vehicle occupancy rates. Vehicle Revenue- Hours (VRH) Hours traveled when the vehicle is in revenue service. To measure service provided in a way that accounts for operational efficiency and captures efforts to reduce deadheading and roadway congestion. Vehicle-Miles (VM) (also often called vehicle-miles traveled [VMT]) Miles traveled from the time a vehicle pulls out from the garage to go into revenue service to the time it pulls in from revenue service, including âdeadheadâ miles without passengers to the starting points of routes or returning to the garage. To measure service provided in a way that accounts for facility, vehicle, and fuel efficiency, and that captures efforts to purchase and retrofit vehicles and facilities with cleaner, more efficient technologies. Vehicle Revenue- Miles (VRM) Miles traveled when the vehicle is in revenue service. To measure service provided in a way that accounts for both operational efficiency and facility, vehicle, and fuel efficiency, capturing efforts to reduce deadheading and roadway congestion, and efforts to purchase and retrofit vehicles and facilities with cleaner, more efficient technologies. Unlinked Passenger Trips (UPT) or Boardings The number of times passengers board vehicles, no matter how many vehicles they use to travel from their origin to their destination and regardless of whether they pay a fare, use a pass or transfer, ride for free, or pay in some other way. Also called boardings. To measure service consumed in a way that considers productivity and operational efficiency and that captures efforts to increase ridership or vehicle occupancy rates. Unlike PMT, UPT will not account for the relative amount (distance) of service provided to each passenger on each mode. Produced Seat Miles (PSM) The total seating capacity of vehicles in revenue service multiplied by total vehicle-miles. To measure service provided in a way that considers the seating capacity of vehicles, which can be useful for comparing systems utilizing different capacity vehicles; overlooks standee capacity as a component of overall vehicle capacity. Revenue Vehicle Length (RVL) The size of a vehicle based on the distance from the front of the vehicle to the back of the vehicle. To measure the relative efficiency of vehicle washing systems in a way that accounts for the relative size of vehicles and captures efforts to reduce the amount of water required to clean each vehicle. Per Capita in Service Area of Operation The number of people with access to transit service in terms of population served and area coverage (square miles), based on definitions contained in the ADA and reported to the NTD. To measure service provided in a way that accounts for the total extent of operations and captures measures to increase transit mode share and to reduce the number and distance of trips taken by private automobiles within the service area of operation. Source: Adapted from Recommended Practice on Quantifying and Reporting Transit Sustainability Metrics (APTA 2012b), pp. 5â6 Table 12. APTA normalization factors.
40 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document Using evaluation criteria to prioritize performance measures can be accomplished in several ways. Two of the most common methods involve conducting a survey or a workshop. If it is possible to bring many groups of stakeholders into a single location for a day, a workshop approach is useful for building collaboration within the organization and developing institutional support for performance management and for sustainability in particular. Workshops are useful for assembling diverse stakeholders and collecting information about their views within a short period of time. Taking this approach enables the transit agency to develop measures that reflect a diverse set of interests. Workshops also are useful in developing organizational culture around sustainability outcomes and enabling organizations to deepen their understanding of sustain- ability and performance measurement through conversation (Lane et al. 2015). 4.4 Implement and Evaluate Whereas Steps 1â3 of operationalizing performance measures may involve extensive public involvement, a key feature of implementation and evaluation involves close coordina- tion between technical staff and the individual or individuals responsible for evaluation. Much of the day-to-day work of executing plans and tracking progress is carried out by technical staff. As capital improvements are made and services are expanded, this staff will be tasked with gathering and reporting the relevant data on each performance measure, enabling the transit agencyâs progress to be evaluated. Internal collaboration across various departments within the transit agency is necessary to iden- tify those stakeholders who are already engaged in tracking data that can be used to measure per- formance. It is important to understand what data is already being collected, in what format(s) the data is available, and what is already being done with the data. When more than one individual or department is responsible for tracking data for a measure, it is critical to confirm that all parties involved are using the same definitions for data collection. For example, bus drivers and train drivers must both identify and record customer injuries using the same descriptive language or coding. For a transit agency, collecting and analyzing data related to environmental sustainability is generally more straightforward than collecting and analyzing data related to social and economic sustainability. Much data related to environmental sustainability can be defined in quantifiable Box 8. Guiding QuestionsâCriteria for Evaluating Individual Measures â¢ Is the performance or service measure specific enough? â¢ Does the transit agency have the necessary data? â¢ Do the responsible parties have the resources necessary to track the measure? â¢ Is the measure targeted at a particular outcome? â¢ Is it realistic for the transit agency to be held accountable to the target established for the measure? â¢ What is the appropriate level of scale (e.g., financial, geographic) for the measure? â¢ Is the measure understandable? â¢ Will the measure enable the agency to compare its progress relative to peer agencies? â¢ Is the measurement time interval appropriate? (Recall that not all measures need to be tracked at the same interval in order to be relevant.) â¢ Is the performance measure useful in establishing targets for agency operations?
Operationalizing the Performance Measures 41 ways (e.g., gallons of diesel fuel consumed). In contrast, much of the information needed to assess social and economic sustainability is qualitative, which complicates the tasks of obtain- ing the necessary consensus across stakeholder groups to define meaningful and quantifiable measures. For social and economic sustainability measures, internal data on operations often is supplemented by data gathered from public sources or through passenger surveys. A list of potential data sources for social and economic performance measures is provided in Box 9. Many of the listed sources can be publicly accessed. One key tool used to obtain data to support social and economic sustainability performance measures is employee and passenger surveys, such as the annual LA Metro survey (2018) (see Box 10). Currently, surveys generally are developed by individual agencies. The research team suggests that transit agencies could benefit by having a standardized survey tool available. Such a standardized tool could provide uniformity to transit agencies seeking to compare their progress on social and economic measures, and could make it easier for smaller transit agencies to begin using surveys for this purpose. To be meaningful, data must be gathered, summarized, and analyzed. A key consideration for any performance tracking system is the question of handling data. Transit agency officials report that obtaining key pieces of data at regular intervals is a sub- stantial challenge, and maintaining a relevant database requires grappling with issues of data integrity. Managing the data required for this process is not an insignificant undertaking. Establishing protocols for data and conducting regular quality control is critical. For some measures, it may be worth the investment to develop robust databases that can intelligently track and report data. As work products are completed, transit agencies will evaluate progress. At regular intervals, transit agencies are encouraged to (1) evaluate whether performance results indicate progress toward achieving a goal, (2) consider what other obstacles may prevent success, and (3) assess whether Box 9. Potential Data Sources for Social and Economic Performance Measures â¢ American Community Survey (ACS) â¢ American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Health & Fitness Journal â¢ APTA Transit Statistics â¢ Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) â¢ Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) â¢ Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) â¢ County Tax Assessors â¢ Census Transportation Planning Products (CTPP) â¢ Housing and Transportation Afford- ability Index (HTAI) â¢ Internal agency data â¢ Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) â¢ Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) â¢ Local Travel Surveys (LTS) â¢ Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) â¢ National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) â¢ National Transit Database (NTD) â¢ National Establishment Time Series (NETS) â¢ Transit Boardings Estimation and Simulation Tool (TBEST) â¢ State Department of Education â¢ State Department of Transportation â¢ Surveys (e.g., paratransit, onboard, household)âinternal and external â¢ United States Census Bureau
42 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document additional performance measures should be considered to achieve goals. This feedback can be considered in future iterations of the performance cycle to inform changes throughout the process. In the example provided in Box 11, the Rogue Valley Transit District (RVTD) developed performance measures for use in scenario-level evaluation, project-level evaluation, and perfor- mance monitoring. For each measure, RVTD indicated why the measure was being tracked, if the data was already collected by RVTD, and which tool(s) were used to obtain data. 4.5 Report Reporting performance measures will again require support from stakeholders, and likely will include stakeholder groups who differ from those who were involved with the initial imple- mentation of the performance management system. Reporting the transit agencyâs progress with regard to sustainability outcomes can be a useful technique for building organizational consen- sus around both sustainability and performance management, and may help to create a sense of ownership among others within and beyond the organization. Box 10. LA Metro Customer Satisfaction Survey (June 2018) Once a year, LA Metro distributes paper surveys on board buses and trains in order to track the transit agencyâs performance and demographic trends of transit users. In the spring of 2018, bus users were asked the following questions: â¢ Generally speaking, I am satisfied with Metro bus service. â¢ This bus is generally on time (within 5 minutes). â¢ I feel safe waiting for this bus. â¢ I feel safe while riding this bus. â¢ This bus is generally clean. â¢ This busâs stops are generally clean. â¢ Did you receive a discount on your fare? â¢ If yes, what type of discount did you receive? â¢ What type of fare did you use? â¢ Do you own a (select: smart phone, cell phone, neither)? â¢ How often do you use mobile applications (on your phone or tablet) such as âGo Metro,â âTransit,â â511,â and âGoogle Mapsâ to get traffic information? â¢ Do you ride Metro Bus/Rail primarily for (select: work/school, errands/recreation, both equally)? â¢ How did you get to the FIRST bus or train of THIS trip (select: walked, dropped off, drove, biked, skateboarded, other)? â¢ How many minutes did it take you to get to the FIRST bus or train of THIS trip? â¢ How many minutes did you wait for that FIRST bus or train? â¢ Do you have a car available to make THIS trip? â¢ Will you have to transfer to complete THIS trip? â¢ If yes, is your transfer scheduled to arrive within 15 minutes? â¢ In the past 6 months, while riding Metro, have you personally experienced any of the following types of sexual harassment (select: non-physical, physical, indecent exposure)? â¢ Regarding the number of fare enforcement personnel on-board Metro buses, do you think there are: (select: far too many, too many, right amount, too few, far too few)? â¢ Regarding the number of police officers onboard Metro buses, do you think there are: (select: far too many, too many, right amount, too few, far too few)? â¢ How many days a week do you usually ride Metro? â¢ How many years have you been riding Metro? â¢ What language did you complete the survey in? â¢ What is your ethnicity? â¢ What is your gender identity? â¢ What is your age? â¢ Householdâs total annual earnings? Source: LA Metro (2018)
Operationalizing the Performance Measures 43 Box 11. Example: RVTD Performance Measurement The RVTD developed measures for use in (1) scenario-level evaluation, (2) project-level evaluation, and/or (3) performance monitoring. Measures were identified as either Tier I (required measures based on adopted RVTD, Rogue Valley MPO, or statewide plans or policies) or Tier II (RVTD ongoing measures or local agency plan-supported measures). The table shown presents a draft version of performance measures related to the RVTDâs Community Goal, âConnect the region, focusing on increasing equitable access to trans- portation and improving quality of life.â Measure Scenario- Level Evaluation Project- Level Evaluation Performance Monitoring Already Collected by RVTD Tool Tier Ridership X X X X TBEST, Farebox I Ridership per capita X X X X TBEST, Ridership, Population Data I Percentage of current and future mixed-use/multi- family zoned land within 1/4 mile of a transit stop X X TBEST II Low-income pop. within 1/4 mile of a transit stop X X TBEST I Minority population within 1/4 mile of a transit stop X X TBEST I Percentage of regional employment within 1/4 mile of a transit route X TBEST, JEMnr II Aged population within 1/4 mile of a transit route X X TBEST I Disabled population within 1/4 mile of a transit route X X TBEST I Source: Adapted from Draft RVTD Goals (used with permission) The reporting step also may be an effective method for increasing confidence in the transit agency, and it can be used to make the case for additional funding. Reporting can be an effec- tive tool, both communicating the impact transit has on social and economic sustainability and providing accountability to stakeholders. Some transit agencies may find it beneficial to produce a stand-alone sustainability report that calls attention to the agencyâs sustainability efforts. Other transit agencies may choose to integrate their sustainability reporting into existing reporting documents, such as financial and accountability reports. For example, in 2017, TransLink began integrating sustainability report- ing into their annual accountability report. If the latter approach is used, it is important to use language in the report that is explicit about the measurementsâ connections to sustainability outcomes. Mapping performance measures against other reporting standards, such as the GRI Standards, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and standards published by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), also may help draw connections between the transit agencyâs efforts and other measures of sus- tainability that are familiar to differing audiences.
44 Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document Transit agencies are advised to consider their intended audience(s) when determining how best to present information on sustainability performance measures. Tables, figures, and graphics can be particularly effective ways to communicate progress toward social and eco- nomic performance measures (see Figure 2 and Figure 3). Data can be presented over time or for a specific reporting period. Reporting also can yield feedback from internal and external stakeholders that can help transit agencies further refine goals, objectives, and measures to support continuous improvement. Source: TransLink (2017), p. 29 (used with permission) Figure 2. TransLink safety and security trends. Source: SEPTA (2018), p. 35 Figure 3. SEPTA workforce development data.