The National Academies

TCRP H-24 [Completed]

Public Transit Boards: Organizations and Characteristics

  Project Data
Funds: $150,000
Research Agency: Simon & Simon Research and Associates
Principal Investigator: Dr. Rosalyn Simon
Effective Date: 10/11/2000
Completion Date: 5/30/2002

TCRP REPORT 85: Public Transit Board Governance Guidebookis a reference tool that provides information on the organization and composition of transit boards. The Guidebook describes the structure and practices of transit boards and includes information on board-selection methods, board size, board length of service, and board composition. The Guidebook also includes a section on the primary role and activities of the transit board and the role of the transit board chair. There are guidelines for determining the roles and responsibilities of board members and a description of the characteristics of an effective board. The Guidebook may be used by policymakers, general managers, legal advisors, and board support personnel.

The companion document to the Guidebook is a report, Public Transit System Policy Boards, that focuses on the findings of the research. A literature review was completed to identify characteristics of governance boards in the public transit industry. A national survey was conducted to identify the characteristics and effectiveness of public transit boards. Five focus groups and six case studies were conducted to discuss transit board effectiveness and the operation of transit boards. This report is published as TCRP Web Document 21, available here.

The organization and characteristics of a transit board directly affect how efficiently and effectively a board discharges its role and responsibilities. An understanding of how other transit boards work in terms of size, structure, and duties will help all boards understand what might work best for them and give them examples with which to compare their present structure and composition. In short, better information is needed on today's transit boards. As policy decisions in transit become more complex, the role of a transit board becomes more critical. The Guidebook is designed to provide guidance to transit board members, general managers and appointing bodies with respect to board powers, role, responsibilities, size structure, organization, and composition.

SIMON & SIMON Research and Associates, Inc. in conjunction with Will Scott & Associates, LLC; Prangley & Company; and Group Dimensions conducted the research for TCRP Project H-24. To achieve the project's objective of developing a public transit board governance reference document, a comprehensive literature review was undertaken to identify information on board powers, board role, board responsibilities, board size, board structure, board organization, and board composition. A national survey of large, medium, and small public transit agencies was conducted to obtain information on transit board characteristics. Also, five focus groups with board members and board member support staff and six in-depth case studies were performed. On the basis of the information gathered, the research team developed the Guidebook.

Status: The report has been published as TCRP Report 85.

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