The National Academies

TCRP H-19 [Completed]

Guidebook to Estimate and Present Benefits and Disbenefits of Public Transit

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Research Agency: Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Samuel Seskin
Effective Date: 3/23/1999
Completion Date: 1/31/2002

The objective of this research is to develop a practical guidebook for use in estimating and presenting transit benefits and disbenefits to decisionmakers and the public. The guidebook procedures will be used to estimate and present the economic, social, and environmental effects of existing transit services and proposed improvements.

Theoretical and practical research has been conducted by many organizations on the benefits and disbenefits of existing transit services and proposed improvements. Many communities have spent millions of dollars analyzing transportation alternatives to assess their near- and long-term economic, social, and environmental effects. Interest in such analyses was heightened by the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), which required consistent comparisons among transportation options. Such analyses and comparisons are expected to have continued importance in future transportation programs.

TCRP has completed related research, in particular, TCRP Project H-2, "Measuring and Valuing Transit Benefits and Disbenefits" (TCRP Report 20), and TCRP Project H-9, "Economic Impact of Transit Investments: Guidebook for Practitioners" (TCRP Report 35). The former provides a taxonomy and definitions of transit's positive and negative effects; the latter presents a broad array of predictive and evaluative methods, focusing on the economic impacts of public transportation investments. TCRP Project H-19 is distinct from prior research projects; it is intended to assist local transportation planners in quantifying the effects of existing transit services and proposed improvements for use in decisionmaking.

The results of TCRP Project H-19 should be useful in the following circumstances:
      1) A Major Investment Study (MIS) or similar study has been conducted. In these instances, considerable data and information have been produced. The challenge here is to extract, integrate, and present the benefits and disbenefits of existing and proposed transit improvements.

      2) An MIS has not been conducted. In these instances, less data and analytical results are available. The guidelines would be used to produce and present quantified estimates of benefits and disbenefits of existing transit services and proposed improvements.

(TCRP Project H-19 assumes that ridership and cost data are available; the research shall not include methods for obtaining such data.)

TCRP Project H-19 is intended to produce practical results that should help transit system planners and managers respond to questions from local decisionmakers and the public on the specific effects of both existing transit services and proposed improvements. Such questions often address congestion, travel time, pollution, and community development. These questions may reflect concern about the true social cost of transportation investments and the rigor of analysis of various costs and benefits.

Status: TCRP Report 78, which includes a CD-ROM, has been published and is available through TRB publication sales and APTA.

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