Intersections of equity in transportation

Concern over equity in our transportation system was on display at three major conferences the last week in October. PolicyLink’s Equity Summit took on the transportation equity conversation directly. SSTI attended this conference as part of its ongoing work developing a tool to assess equity in transportation investments. Both RailVolution and the NACTO Designing Cities 2015 conference also occurred over the same week as the Equity Summit, and both meetings notably held meaningful sessions that discussed equity in the transportation system.

As federal government mulls performance measures, the TTI congestion report returns

The timing is apparently coincidental, but the Texas Transportation Institute issued its latest estimate of traffic congestion costs in late August, just as US DOT seems to be finishing work on its MAP-21-mandated performance measures on congestion and system performance. Because it is easy to understand, describes a common experience, and is formatted in a series of lists, it is perfectly suited for uncritical press coverage. However, the press attention and catholic policy orientation notwithstanding, the TTI approach is widely criticized on both technical and conceptual grounds.

Regional accessibility metric offers powerful approach to transportation system planning

Researchers at the University of Minnesota developed a measure of multimodal accessibility for the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, which they hope can be implemented in metropolitan areas around the nation as an alternative to commonly-used congestion metrics for prioritizing transportation projects and planning system improvements. For decades, transportation system performance has been measured in terms of traffic congestion and delay, both at the project scale and the regional scale. Developers of the new accessibility measure flip the equation by asking what the value of accessibility is, rather than what the costs of congestion are.

The Innovative DOT: A Handbook of Policy and Practice (SSTI & SGA, 2012)

State officials across the country are facing the same challenges. Revenues are falling and budgets are shrinking while transportation demands grow. Most state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) have ambitious goals: improve safety, reduce congestion, enhance economic opportunity, improve reliability, preserve system assets, accelerate project delivery, and help to create healthier, more livable neighborhoods, just to name a few.
The handbook provides 31 recommendations transportation officials can use as they position their agencies for success in the new economy. The handbook documents many of the innovative approaches state leaders are using to make systems more efficient, government more effective and constituents better satisfied.

Economic Effects of Public Investment in Transportation and Directions for the Future (CNT and SSTI, 2012)

This report examines current economic analysis practices in state Departments of Transportation through examples in nine state transportation agencies and an extensive literature review. For additional understanding of the methods in practice, we also incorporated information …

Building Public Support to Fund Preservation Work (Spitfire Strategies, 2012)

The Iowa Department of Transportation asked SSTI for assistance building public support for a gas tax increase to fund critical repair and maintenance work. SSTI contracted with Spitfire Strategies, a strategic communications firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and foundations, to help Iowa craft effective messaging that would resonate with policymakers and key stakeholders. Based on SSTI and Spitfire’s work in Iowa and recent polling, this paper outlines how transportation professionals can gain support for a “fix-it-first” approach to transportation policy. It highlights messages and tactics that have effectively garnered voter and policymaker support and presents lessons learned from the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The Colorado Energy Smart Transportation Initiative: A Framework for Considering Energy in Transportation (SSTI and Colorado DOT, 2012)

The mission of Colorado’s Energy Smart Transportation Initiative was to develop a framework for considering energy efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in transportation decision-making. With SSTI assistance, a collaborative team composed of federal and state agencies, MPOs, and rural planning partners came together to leverage resources and promote efficiency and effectiveness among agencies by exploring ways to develop “energy smart transportation” strategies. This report includes strategies developed to incorporate energy efficiency and GHG emissions in transportation planning, increase energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions from transportation, advance environmentally friendly alternative vehicle and fuel technologies, and increase efficiency through truck fleet enhancements, improved traveler information, and other methods.

Motor vehicle travel demand continues long-term downward trend in 2011

Despite an improving economy, motor vehicle travel declined markedly in 2011, continuing a downward trend with major implications both for infrastructure revenue and infrastructure needs.
Total VMT fell 1.2 percent from 2010, to its lowest level since 2003.
More striking, per capita VMT was down for the sixth out of the last seven years, dropping to 1998 levels. Per capita VMT dropped 2.1 percent from 2010.
A PDF version of the February 20, 2012 SSTI analysis of VMT trends is available for download.

SSTI Review of PennDOT's Smart Transportation (SSTI, 2011)

Smart Transportation is Pennsylvania DOT’s integrated response to the crisis of crumbling infrastructure, limited revenues to address it, and the need to better align transportation with community revitalization and sound land use policy. PennDOT was the first state program reviewed in detail by SSTI, and remains one of our prime examples of a thoughtful DOT wrestling with the challenges of fiscal austerity, sustainability, and system preservation. The review was done at the request of PennDOT to assess the effectiveness of its Smart Transportation program in integrating land use and transportation in its decision-making and to identify areas of opportunity to advance the Smart Transportation agenda.