EM – Advancing Comprehensive Performance Measurement of Transportation Outcomes

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Champion(s)

Peter Rafferty

Ed Block

CTDOT

[email protected]

Deanna Belden

MnDOT

[email protected]



Advancing Comprehensive Performance Measurement of Transportation Outcomes


Funding

$400,000

Research Period

24 months

Description

Transportation and its infrastructure are not ends in themselves but means for accessing places for economic activity, i.e., overcoming the friction between where you are and where you want to be. Transportation agencies, departments of transportation (DOTs), and other infrastructure owner-operators (IOOs) work to create public value in providing safe mobility. This is balanced with a desire to support societal goals and improve the quality of life. Many agencies continue evolving toward community-centered transportation by adopting more comprehensive and outcome-oriented goals for accessibility, affordability, resiliency, sustainability, public health, and security.
Measuring these less conventional outcomes (compared to traffic delay or pavement condition, for example) remains an immature practice and not widely done. There is a legacy of a strong, institutionalized bias toward infrastructure- and auto-oriented performance. Yet many emerging measures are closely tied to diverse societal goals, and practice is advancing in pockets around the country, including efforts to influence investment decision-making through a more comprehensive performance framework.


Literature Search Summary

There is limited published literature on measuring transportation performance related to the more comprehensive – or “non-traditional” – outcomes like equity or resilience, but some examples include:
• National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) 20-68D Scan 22-03: Leading Practices in Equitable Decision Making to Support Societal Goals within Transportation Agencies
NCHRP Report 985: Integrating Effective Transportation Performance, Risk, and Asset Management Practices
NCHRP Report 920: Management and Use of Data for Transportation Performance Management: Guide for Practitioners
NCHRP 08-162: Guidance for Implementing Equitable Transportation Decision-Making
• NCHRP Project: 08-121 Accessibility Measures in Practice: Guidance for Transportation Agencies (research is complete, the final report is under review)
Apart from published guidance, a wealth of information and data are available on these topics from the numerous agencies actively developing and utilizing newer measures. This research project will include a scan of those agencies – e.g., Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and others– to gather evidence and examples.
Comprehensive transportation performance management research should not be confused with social value analysis. Though related and often sharing the same data sources, the purposes and methods are very distinct.
Other ongoing research and development are available from efforts related to the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) 2022 Equity Action Plan and Justice40 initiative, the Federal Transit Administration’s work in these areas, Federally supported Geographic Information System (GIS) tools (example), measuring the benefits of access or public transportation, the 2022 greenhouse gas (GHG) rulemaking process, and others.
The research will also draw on best practices in performance management, emerging guidance from organizations such as the National League of Cities, international decision-making frameworks, and other sectors where these measures are not considered “non-traditional.”


Objectives

From the perspective of getting to a more coherent national practice, the objective of this research is to get our proverbial arms around how to do this better. This begins with documenting the current state of the art, identifying methodological and institutional gaps, and charting a path toward elevating practice nationwide.
This research goal will take lessons learned from the evolution of traditional measures like pavement condition or level of service, each decades in the making and continuing to evolve, be reimagined, or even discarded. Once-novel travel time reliability is also now a “traditional” measure, but not before the Second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) began 15 years ago. This research will evolve contemporary measures, help expand emerging leading practices for adoption by agencies around the nation, and advance improved measurement, integration, and incorporation of important policy goals into investment decision-making.
The objectives of this research also directly support the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO’s) current formulation of the moonshot to reorient our transportation goals and investments to support communities. More effectively measuring the “non-traditional” strategic goals is fundamental to tracking our moonshot progress.


Urgency and Potential Benefits

The public, society at large, is demanding that we consider transportation outcome performance in a wider range of dimensions, requiring measures that more effectively capture the impacts of the system and services delivered by DOTs/IOOs. While charting the needed changes over the next ten years there are many gains to be made much sooner through this research:
• Evaluating the public value of transportation initiatives, e.g., equitable access to education, Utah’s work on measuring quality of life.
• Identifying high quality measures to address arising areas of importance such as accessibility, resilience, and equity.
• Developing new measures and using measures that exist but are less familiar in the transportation domain.
• Representing non-traditional strategic goals and policies in the decision-making process.
• Connecting with the broader societal goals that the public really wants to achieve.
• Measurement areas may include resiliency, equity, maintenance, usage, supply chain, and climate change, security, privacy, safety, public health, affordability, sustainability, or others.
Just as some DOTs are reconsidering legacy measures such as level of service from investment decisions, our transportation agencies nationwide must be on guard against unintended consequences of measures that may be relatively easy (or even mandated) but which risk obscuring negative impacts on communities and the environment. The Federal measures arising from the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century/Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (MAP-21/FAST) Acts have been a welcome infusion of energy into the practice of transportation performance management, but they are just one small part of an agency’s responsibilities to its constituents.
The so-called leveling of the playing field amongst competing interests is gaining some momentum, and this research will serve to accelerate adoption of best practices to reach public benefits faster.


Implementation Considerations

Ongoing coordination between AASHTO, NCHRP, USDOT, and Transportation Research Board (TRB) (e.g., Performance Management Committee)


Champion(s)

Peter Rafferty

Ed Block

CTDOT

[email protected]

Deanna Belden

MnDOT

[email protected]


Others Supporting Problem Statement

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Potential Panel Members

Please add at least one potential panel member.

Person Submitting Statement

Deanna Belden
MnDOT
[email protected]
(651) 366-3734

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