The National Academies

TCRP Synthesis J-07/Topic SB-37 [Active (Synthesis)]

Transit Agency Goals and Non-Traditional Performance Indicators Focused on Equity
[ TCRP J-07 (Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $55,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/29/2022 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Research Agency: Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI)
Principal Investigator: Zachary Elgart
Fiscal Year: 2022

Project Scope



A primary goal of public transit is to connect people to jobs, goods and services and other essentials on a daily basis. Historically, ridership has been the primary way public transit agencies have communicated their success and public value in making connections for community. COVID-19 impacts have changed the context and typical relationships between service levels and ridership. Awareness and acknowledgement of inequities based on race, ethnicity, national origin, physical ability, income, age or gender in our community is prompting agencies to carefully consider how its own service decisions impact diverse communities. Agencies are attempting to define and communicate the magnitude and impact of their efforts to improve access to connections and monitor and correct potential disparities even in times of depressed ridership.

Transit agencies across the United States have started to measure progress in new ways that capture levels of investment in service and the rider experience as well as investigate if there are differences across demographic groups. The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact and an acknowledgement of disparaties in access to essential services and connections to oppportunity adds pressure to adopt new goals and performance indicators, in particular to track the efficiency of systems facing lower ridership and the need to serve essential employees and trip purposes.

Several agencies have shifted services and enhanced performance tracking in recent years, continuing to explore non-traditional performance indicators moving forward as well as the means to tie funding to these indicators and emphasize their importance. With several years of non-traditional performance indicators tracking underway, a beginning understanding of COVID-19 impacts, and a continued emergence of new service models, the industry is at a key point to understand and document current practice.


Synthesis Objective:


The objective of this synthesis is to document the current practice of transit systems in relation to service planning equity .  The study will focus on understanding how transit agencies set  goals, the targets they set, and the key performance indicators that they use to measure the success or failures of these goals.


Information to be Gathered (Not an exhaustive list):


       Transit agencies service equity goals.  Goals beyond federal and state law; 

       Goal setting and definitions of population;

       Tools and performance indicators that transit agencies use to track and meet service equity goals;

       Data tools and capabilities (e.g., vendor data availability, analysis processing complexity, potential data flaws);

       Time period of indicators in performance evaluation;

       Impacts to service and customer populations;     

       Changes to transit services, infrastructure, or organization have transit agencies taken to improve service equity; and,

       Challenges for transit agencies in defining and achieving  goals (e.g. Political barriers, technical limitations, funding constraints, etc.).


How the Information Will Be Gathered:


       a literature review (e.g. agency reports, peer reviewed journal articles, web articles, agency websites);

       a survey on a broad range of North American transit agencies [diverse in terms of geography, socioeconomics, size (including rural, intercity, tribal, and frontier areas)];  

       examples of practice documents, reports, and other guidance in performance measurement;

       at least five case examples from agencies that will gather information on the practices, challenges and successes; and,

       identification of knowledge gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps.


TRB Staff
Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Phone: 202-334-2361
Email: mgarciacolberg@nas.edu

Meeting Dates
First Panel: October 13, 2022
Teleconference with Consultant: December 2022
Second Panel: July 2023

Topic Panel 

Gabi Brazzil, WSP 

Nancy Brooks, Deloitte & Touche LLP

Conan Cheung, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Rachel Dungca, Metro Transit (MN)

Brian Lane, San Diego Association of Governments 

Eric Randall, Metropolitan Council of Governments

Lisa Womack, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority 

Qazi Aniqua Zahra, Port Authority of Allegheny County


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