Considerations in evaluating Florida's public transportation financial needs

Considerations in evaluating Florida's public transportation financial needs

Material Information

Considerations in evaluating Florida's public transportation financial needs
University of South Florida. Center for Urban Transportation Research
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR)
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Transportation--Florida--Planning ( lcsh )
Regional planning--Florida ( lcsh )
Transportation--Florida--Finance ( lcsh )
Local transit--Florida--Finance ( lcsh )
letter ( marcgt )

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
C01-00012 ( USFLDC DOI )
c1.12 ( USFLDC Handle )

Postcard Information



This item has the following downloads:

Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
record xmlns http:www.loc.govMARC21slim xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govstandardsmarcxmlschemaMARC21slim.xsd
leader ntm 22 Ka 4500
controlfield tag 008 s flunnn| ||||ineng
datafield ind1 8 ind2 024
subfield code a C01-00012
2 110
University of South Florida. Center for Urban Transportation Research
0 245
Considerations in evaluating Florida's public transportation financial needs
Tampa, Fla
b Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR)
c 1989 October
Regional planning--Florida
Local transit--Florida--Finance
1 773
t Center for Urban Transportation Research Publications [USF].
4 856


Considerations in Evalnaf:iilg Florida's Public Transportation Financial Needs Prepared for The Florida House of Representatives By Center for Urban Transportation Research University of South Florida October 1989


Table of Contents Section Introduction Background Defining and Determining Transit Needs Dependence on External Factors NonTransportation Objectives Influencing Needs The Cost of Transit Capacity and Technology Understanding the Travelers Willingness to Use Transit Who Should Pay for Transit Needs? The Role of Public Transit as an Alternative to Highway Improvements Putting Transit Use in Perspective Transit's Role in Rush Perio d Travel in Congested Corridors The Cost of Transit Versus Highway Capacity Expansion Transit's Role in Reducing Congestion The Impact of Fixed Guideway Investments on Transit Capital Needs Which Comes First Transit or Urban Density and Design to Support Transit? The Role of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Facilities in Florida T ransit Needs Coordination of Transit and Highway Planning Summary 12 12 16 19 21 24 25 26 26 27


Introduction The purpose of this m emorandum is to provide background information and discussion of issues relating to the State's role in financing public transportation. A companion technical memorandum, "Public Transit Cost Analysis: Five and Ten Year Projections for the State of Florida," bas also been produced. This memorandum specifically addresses issues concerning the substitutability of transit for highway investments and the coordination of highway and transit investments. It was prepared in response to a request from the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR). The report does not make specific recommendations for funding levels or legislative policy direction, nor is it intended to be a comprehensive analysis of the issues associated with determining the State's role in public transportation financing. Rather, it raises issues and provides information that CUTR feels merit considerat ion in bot h legislative and administrative decision-making about public transportation financial needs. Background It is not uncommon for transit investments to be perceived and marketed as a key element in the solution to problems involvi ng urban congestion, economic development, growth management, and environmental and energy conservation. The inability of roadway improvements to keep pace with growth in trave l demand results in a broad interest in seeking alternative solutions. This raises an obvious question. Are bus or fixed guideway transit, with their high capacity capabilities, an answer to urban woes, and, if so, under what conditions -or is transit just the greener grass on the other side of the fence? If transit i s the answer, is it any more affordable than roadway expansion or easier to implement in a timely manner? What policy actions are required to make it work? How will the public react? Will Floridians choose to live, or tolerate living in an environment that is designed to be dramatically more conducive to transit use? Will cities whose growth 1


has occurred primarily in the era when autos dominated travel grow to be as conducive to transit as cities whose infrastructure was significantly in p lace before the dominance of auto tra vel ? Can we or do we want to make Florida cities have the same characteristics that support greater transit use in denser older American cities? Are the benefits of transit or the lifestyle and development patterns that it supports sufficient to justify the institutional, policy, and lifestyle changes that may be required to make extensive transit use probable? Should scarce transportation resources be spent: on transit capital investments, much of whose capacity is not needed until 2010 or later, or are current roadway needs sufficiently critical that diverting resources to meet long range needs is not appropriate? Is making a commitment to significantly boost funding for transit infrastructure an insightful, visionary effort to be proactive in shaping our transporta tion and land use future, or is it a sign of naive "me-too-ism" where urban areas play "keep up with the Joneses" by investing in convention centers, stadiums, festival market places, and rail transit systems even in situations where market conditions will not support the investments? If we do not embrace transit for the assistance it can give in encouraging land use and travel behavior that is more conducive to the quality of life we all seek, what are the alternative solutions? Have those who have found fault with transit articulated more viable courses of action to add ress the looming e nvironmen ta l and congestion problems being brought on by relentless auto traffic growth? Does anyone think more roads is the answer? While virtually no one foresees the demise of the automobile, the expectations of the public, transportation professionals, and decision makers about transit and its role in wban transportation vary dramatically. Is trans it only a public service for those persons who have no alternative? Is it destined to play a minor role in meeting overall transportation ne eds? W ill the transit industry's significant declines in productivity and share of travel continue? Or is transit the solution to a myriad of urban problems? Will it provide the incentives necessary to shape urban growth patterns, the efficiencies to help resolve congestion problems, the advantages to provide safer, more energy-efficient, and less polluting transportation? Is transit the inevitable solution to making urban areas more livable? Or are we contemplating spending 2


more and more dollars in less-than-successful efforts to coax passengers out of their autos? Have the dispersed activity patterns and low densities of the suburban lifestyle constrained us to having ineffective and inefficient public transportation service? Is additional investment in transit a critical means of preserving the vitality of our key downtowns, or is it an increasingly expensive way for taxpayers to subsidize the commuting costs of the increasingly higher-income, white collar central business district (CBD) employees? Are transit investments in fixed guideways a reflection of the political power of the central cities and downtown developers trying to stem the momentum of dramatic suburban growth, or is revitalization of downtowns through transit investments the neces sary key to preserving the cores of our urban areas? Is building radial flxed guideway facilitie.s to CBDs to provide attractive, highly subsidized commutes from distant residential areas any less a contributor to the "dreaded urban sprawl" than building more highways for the same purpose? Are long transit commutes from suburban residential areas to distant downtowns really more efficient than shorter auto trips to nearby suburban employment centers? What are the real answers to these quest i ons? And how do we find the right balance? The issues raised in this debate are sure to peak the interests and in many cases arouse the sensitivities of a large segment of the population. While it would be nice to be able to report a variety of conclusive tec hnical and finan cial evidence supporting publicly popular solutions, unfortunately, decisions concerning transit and transportation investments are more controversia l than that. Not only is there no right answer, but coming up with any answer can be difficult. Any response to these questions will inevitably be challenged, as there is no simple formula or criteria to determine the relative needs and priorities that should be given to transportation spending or to determine the share for each mode. CUTR hopes in these discussions to raise a variety of issues and offer information that merits consideration. 3


Defining and Determining Transit Needs Determining the need for expanded and replacement transit facilities is a formidable challenge. There is no right answer and, indeed, there is a wide variety of perspectives as to what is the appropriate level of investment in public transportation to meet current and future "needs" The estimation of public transit operating and capita l needs is one of the mo re difficult of the urban infrastruc ture elements to forecast The difficulty in estimating transit needs . : results from the broad-based definition of "need" for transit and from the d ifficulties associated with forecasting the public's willingness to use public transit investments A number of the considerations that go into determining estimates of needs are discussed below. It should be noted that the discussion that follows focuses on transit needs" from the perspective of "mass" transportation. That is, public transportation generally serves two primary purposes: one is to provide mobility for those persons who otherwise do not have an alternative; the second is to provide transportation for significant volumes of perso n s in order to capture the economies of mass transportation. The public service role for public transportat ion would include providing a variety of services for persons who are physically, financially, mentally, or otherwise unable to use auto transportation. This role for transportation is not questioned here nor relevant in the discussion of the role of public transportation in meeting the demands for transportation capacity resulting from rapid growth. The aspect of public transit that is referre d to in this discussion by t he phrase "public transit" is the role transit plays in providing transportati on capacity to serve t he travel demands of a significant volume of persons This "mass" transit role for public transportation is the role of pub lic transit which has associated with it the frequently stated goals of providing efficient movement of people, energy savings, air quality preservation, safe transportation, and the avoidance of environmental and neighborhood disruption associated with roadway construction. 4


Dependence on External Factors As one would expect, defining "needs" requires a variety of professional and technical as well as policy assumptions. The estimate of public transportation needs is depe ndent upon external factors such as: the rate of population and travel demand growth, the availability of resources, the land use impacts of development and growth management policies, energy prices and availability, and, the extent to which roadway and parking investments might impact the demand for transit A critical factor in shaping growth in demand for public transportation is the growth in travel demand associated with increased population and the trends in recent years for the amount of t ravel per person to increase. This growth in demand will change the size of t he potential transit market and impact the levels of service (congestion) on roadways which i m pacts the attractiveness of the t rans it alternative. Particular attention has to be paid to the focus of population and travel demand growth in relatio nshi p to the target market areas for transit. Currently, the vast majority of growth in American urban areas is in the suburban and fringe areas, areas not currently well s erved by transit or as conducive to transit use. F or transit to benefit from growth will require the growth to be direc ted to areas served by transit or for transit services to expand into areas experiencing population and activity growth Considerations such as t he public's willingness to subsidize operating costs to allow expanded service and lowe r fares will impact the demands for and capital investment ne eds of transit. An urban area will need more new buses and possibly more new guideways if it is willi ng to support transit operations that recover 25% of operating costs from the farebox t ha n if it i s only willing to support operations that earn 50% of the operating cost out of the farebox. The availability of resources from various governmental sources will also imp act reported needs for public transit funding. What is deemed to be needed for public transportation spending is likely to be higher if the funds will go to leverage 80% federal or other source monies than if the project is to be wholly funded by a single 5


governmental entity. An urban area may "need" to raise $250 million to pay the local share of a $1 billion fixed guideway system but may not "need" the fixed guideway system at all if it requires that the total cost be local funds The definition of need is not an absolute definition but will vary based on the expected returns on the investment. Similarly, an area may "need" greater resources in situations where the funds are allocated on a discretionary basis than in cases where the funds are allocated on a formula basis or where a transit investment has to be traded off against a roadway or other investment. Land use and devel opment patterns are often noted as being critical to the success of transit services. Higher density is important in that a concentration of activities or residents creates a level of travel demand high enough to justify transit services that are frequent enough to be attractive to the public. I n addit ion, the configuration and design characteristics of development patterns can significantly influence the ease and convenience of transit use, and hence influence the "need" for additional investment. Energy prices and availability clearly have an impact on the relative attrac t iveness of auto versus transit travel. Higher energy costs increase both the cost of a uto travel and t he public's s ensitivity to energy conservation, encouraging greater transit use. However, the sensitivity to energy costs and energy cost's share of total t r ansportation costs is small enough that dramatic i ncreases in energy costs would be required to get a substantial traveler be h avior impact. A sustained period of higher energy costs could also encourage land use and urban design patterns more conducive to transit. The availability of roadway facilit ies a n d parking at activity and employment centers is a critical consideration in influencing travel behavior. The need for transit investment will be affected by the extent to which capacity is added to the roadway system to accommodate increased demand and by the availability of parking at activity locations This facto r in determining transit needs is discussed in more detail in subsequent sections. 6


Non-Transportation Objedives Influencing Needs The level of investment in transit is not strictly based on "needs" as determi ned by demands for transportation capacity. Public transportation investments are expected to play a role in attaining such goals as cleaner air, reduced energy consumption, enhanced economic development, and growth management. Determining "needs" relative to these objectives is exceptionally difficult. How important it is to build a fixed guideway facility to improve competitiveness at attracting downtown office development is a consideration that is not . easily subject. to t he quantification characteristic of that used for determining capacity needs. Similarly, determi ning how much transit investment i s needed or cost effective in attaining goals for air quality, energy savings, and growth management is not an easy or standardized task. While a given project may not be "needed" or cost effective as a transportation investment, its overall impact may result in the project being a "needed" or worthwhile investment in the context of the broader set of impacts anticipated from transit inves t ments. This, of course, does raise the issu e of whether or not transportation funds are the most appropriate revenue source for transit infrastructure inves t ments many of whose objectives go well beyond providing transportation. One could easily argue that the share of project costs associated with accomplishing such things as air quality or economic development objectives should not be paid by transportation funds but rather by general revenue resources or from resources programmed for economic development or environmental purposes. The Cost of Transit Capacity and Technology An additional factor complicating the process of estimating transit's capital requirements is the ability to address a transit mobility need in a number of different fashions that may have radically different costs. For instance, a corridor's demand may be handled with regular fixed route, fiXed schedule transit service provided by bus. However, decision makers may take a longer term perspective or ha ve other objectives in mind and prefer to invest in a fixed guideway system that is many times more expensive. Even the differences 7


between levels of perfonnance and amenities as expressed in terms of different fixed guideway technologies or degrees of system sophistication and automation, exclusivity of guideway (grade separated right-of-way), and architectural treatments and amenities can have a very significant impact on the cost of meeting transit capacity needs. An affluent individual does not "'need" a luxury sedan to travel from point A to point B yet may choose that alternative over an econobox automobile. Many of the transit projects envisioned by IJlban areaS are not necessarily bare bones investments in transit capacitY but rather investments in performance and amenities that are perceived to be of value or felt to be necessary to attract additional discretionary passengers. Grade-separated, high performance rail systems can be many times more expensive than surface-running, light rail systems, yet each system may have more than adequate capacity to meet travel demands for the foreseeable future. Understanding The Travelers' Willingness to Use Transit Finally, the need for transit investment is affected by the utilization of transit facilities Transit use is frequently below expectations and often less than hoped for by those who favor transit for assistance in congestion relief, air quality improvements, and energy savings. While highway plans in an envirorunent with travel congestion are often referred to as self fulfilling and are frequently used to near capacity the day they are opened, many transit projects are designed to meet demands anticipated in the sometimes distant future. The uncertainty about when and if the public will fully utilire transit investments introduces a great deal of controversy into the discussions of the "need" for transit investments. Ther e is frequently an expectation that overall urban mobility needs can be addressed by transit i nvestments when ridership data suggests that the market response to transit investments has consistently been less than initially forecast and frequently fails to exhibit 8


the growth that would be anticipated in rapidly growing areas. It is not uncommon to see transit demands es timated by extrapolating t otal travel demand and then debiting the share of demand that can be handled by the programmed roadway system and assuming that the remainder will be t he transit mar ket. This has proven to be an overly optimistic estimate of transit demand in spite of the somewhat intuitive appeal of such an approach. Advocates of transit remain convinced that increasing congestion, higher energy costs, increased environmental problems and sensitivities, declining roadway investment, or other conditions will result in more fundamental changes in behavior toward transit and an increasing demand for transit. While these cond itions may well contribute to an increase in transit use and "need" greater than has historically been the case, there is limited ability to pred ict with confidence to what extent and when this significant change in travel behavior is likely to be realized Roadway travel is more deterministic. The dominance of roadway travel has resulted in a greater understanding of needs and, because of the dependence on roadways resulting from the dominant role they play, a lessened probability that fluctua tions in external conditions will dramatically impact overall demand. With approximately 97% of U.S. travel by private automobile, a shift in share from transit to auto would have a modest impact on the roadway system, whereas a significant shift of the 97% auto market could overwhelm the transit system capabilities. E qually important in differentiating between transit needs and highway needs is the tendency for most of the proposed new highway capacity to relieve existing travel congestion. In locations where congestion exists and resources are limited, the investments in roadways will seldom be programmed so far in advance t hat there is any risk that the facility will not be well utilized. The need for transit investments is seldom driven by conditions such as overflowing loads on buses, public complaints about overcrowding on buses, histories of substantial growth in transit ridership, the need to invest in larger capacity transit facilities to capture economies of scale, or other market based measures of need. 9


Most often, the largest investments for expansion of transit in growing areas are based on long range goals and expectations. It is not uncommon for concerns about the environment. energy, urban mobility, and growing congestion and economic competitiveness to provide support for a far greater level of investment in transit capital than can be justified by measures of transportation cost effectiveness or trends in transit use. An attitude of "It would be great if we had a better transit system (so that the other guy would use it and ma)

entities. and the State? This topic is discussed in more detail in the companion document, "Public Transit Cost Analysis: Five and Ten Year Projections for the State of Florida" Demand ior Travel ) i T Performance : Amenities Location Capaci t y a n d Inf r astructu r e ... Needs? Dolla r Needs? \ i T ; Who pays ho w much? \ Decisions about financial support at the various levels of government and the public s willingness to pay a given fare level and provide o perati n g subsidies may s i gnificantly s h ift the overal l demand for transit services as well as the resource needs from a given level o f government. Current uncertainty as to federal policy on supporting transit operations and capital i n vestments as well as local and private sector uncertainty in supporting various local financing initiatives resu l ts in a great deal of uncertainty as to financial needs from other sources of funds The dynamics of multiple parties providing financial support can create uncertainty about the implications of a given funding decision. For examp l e, a local funding initiative to lower fares and increase service may resu l t in a greater need for state resou r ces to purchase ne w buses. S imil arly, a reduction in federal dollars available for operat i ons and capital support may actually reduce the ability of a given operator to expand service and make new investments, thus r educing the need for state funds for a matching program. Such interrelationships ca n lead to uncertainty in funding and to some counter intuitive results. 11


The Role of Public Transit as an Alternative to Highway IJDprovements In the request to CUTR to evaluate transit needs, it was explicitly requested by the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives that CUTR provide ... an independent review of the role of public transportation as an alternative to highway improvements" and that CUTR address the issue of ... how roadway improvements must be coordinated with public transportation .... Each of these related questions reflects an understanding of the interrelationship of highway and transit modes and the necessity of acknowledging assumptions about the alternative mode when making estimates of financial needs to support either mode. As in estimating needs, there are a number of perspectives concerning the substitutability of transit services or capita l investments for highway investments. There is no question that in high volume corridors transit can play a role in providing mobility. Additionally, it is acknowledged that there can be competition between highway and transit facilities and that coordination of major investment planning provides an opportunity for more efficient utilization of capital investments in both transit and highway facilities However, the more important issue on the minds of the general public and elected and administrative decision makers is whether or not transit investments are '"the" solution or "part of' the solution to our congestion problems and transportation funding challenges. Should more money be spent on transit? Will it reduce the requirements for additional highway funds? Is the total bi.IJ lower if a larger share of the funds are invested in transit? Putting Transit Use in Perspective Transit will play a relatively modest role in reducing the overall growth in demand for roadway facilities; however, in selected corridors its role can be very important In evaluating the role of transit it is important to put the current information on transit use into perspective. Table 1 presents current information on transit use nationally and in Florida. As the data indicate, transit use in Florida is significantly below national norms. 12


In absolute terms, transit use is a very modest share of overall travel, with transit making up less than 1 o/o of trip-making in Florida. While this low level of use provides an opportunity for improvement, it also indicates that dramatic changes in travel behavior and in the financial support of transit would be required for transit to begin t o be a significant factor in overall transportation supply. One would logically question whether Florida's low use of transit is a result of inadequate funding and provision of transit or whether it is a reflection of the land use, density, transportation system, and socio-economic conditions that exist in the state. In addition to being a modest contributor to transportation supply, public transit travel in Florida has been declining in absolute terms, and, with the large increases in total travel demand, the decline in the share of travel on transit has been more significant. Figure 1 shows the trends between 1980 and 1988 for the ridership, operating cost, and vehicle miles of transit service being provided in Florida As the graph indicates, the ridership has declined slightly over the past nine years in spite of rapid population growth, increases in the amount of transit s ervice provided, and double digit increases in operating expenditures. Estimates of total travel demand growth in Florida (measured in vehicle miles of travel) range from 4 to 6+% armually. A doubling of the share of travel on transit would reduce this growth rate for highway demand by approximately 1 o/o or, in e ffec t, a one year doubling of transit ridership would slow the growth in travel demand for roadways for that year from the 4 to 6 + o/o range to the 3 to 5 +% range. As an example, since the early 1960's the number of trips on transit in Washington, D.C., has approximately doubled, partially attributable to the massive investment in transit facilities; however, the large growth in population and total trave l demand has resulted in the share of travel on transit only changing modestly. A doubling of transit use in Florida wo uld be equivalent to absorbing about 2 to 3 months' worth of the growth of total travel demand. While every little bit helps, the overall impact of dramatic expansion in transit would be modest in contrast to the total statewide transportation demands. To add additional perspective, the current transit market in Florida can be compared with 13


Table 1 Florida Versus Nati o nal Tre n ds in Trav e l and Transit Use Populat ion (000) Passenger Trips (000) Passenger Miles (000) Transit Trips (linked) (000) Trans i t Trips (unlinked) (000) Transit Miles of Travel (000) T r ansit Trips/ capita (link e d) Trans i t T r ips/capita (unlinked) Transit Miles/ capita T r ansit Trips as a S h are of Tot a l T r ips Tra nsit P assenger Miles as a Sha r e of T otal P assenge r Mile s u.s. (1983) 229,453 205,811 000 1,946 000 000 5,53 1 ,000 8,800,000 39,000,000 24 38 170 2 .7% 2.0% Florida (1983) 10, 592 9 533,000 (est). 89,830,000 (est.) 83,675 (est.) 130,000 590 000 8 (est.) 1 2 56 0 .9% 0.66% Source.: APTA 1 988 Transit Fact &ok ; Summary o f T ravel Trends, 1983 1984 Nationwide P ersonal Transportation Study USDOT No v ember 1985; Florida P ublie Transit Profile, 198 7 prepared by FDOT. Estimated data typicaUy involved applying national averages to Florida data for e stimating missing data items. 14


-"' Figure 1 Florida Transit Trends Millions 300 --.. -----..... ....... .......... ---------..... ................. .............. . ... .................. ""l Vehicle Miles -1 .. Passenger Trips Operaling Cos Is .;j<--" ....... 260. 200 1 150 100 -60 / // ...... --.. ........... ___, __ -+-----4-----1------1 -.. i ........ -.-... ----,._,..., _.,._ M---- -,,.-W..'"' ---M-- -'"'',_ ... --.-, .... W.,-_._,. . Note: Annual Totals lor Florida Fixed Route Transit Systems. o 1-------1 --------,---------.. -,-------,------ --r --.. -. --00 81 82 83 84 &5 06 07 00


the transit use in other U.S. cities. Florida has approximately 123 million transit vehicle hoardings per year. Of this number, more than half, 67 million, are on the Dade County operation. The next closest number of riders is recorded in Broward County (13 million), though this number is only approximately 20% of the number of passengers in Dade County. In the Washington, D.C., region the bus and rail systems each report substantially more transit ridership than the total for Florida (170 and 145 inillion, respectively). The combined ridership of bus and rail in Ailanta (151 million) tops the Florida total, and several other all-bus transit systems in major cities carry more than half as many passengers as the Florida total (Milwaukee, 75 Honolulu, 75 million; Houston, 68 million; Minneapolis, 73 million). The largest U.S all-bus operation, in Los Angles, carries 450 million passengers annually, almost four times as many as in Florida annually. Transit's Role in Rush Period Travel in Congested Corridors While the figures above do not encourage strong expectations of transit absorbing a significant share of the overall demand for travel and hence significantly reducing the needs for highway infrastructure investment, transit can play an important role in a localized context, particularly where peak period work trip demands in a high density corridor are being studied. Furthermore, they suggest that dramatic increases in transit use and support will be required for it to play a more significant role in overall transportation supply. Transit's greatest advantage is in high volume corridors in the rush periods. Transit can be a major contributor in meeting rush period congested corridor travel needs. For example, transit travel for work trips to downtowns in some of Florida's largest cities can be a significant share of total travel. These number can range from a few percent to more than 20% in Florida cities. Shares of 50% or more are possible in some of the U.S.'s denser urban areas with established transit systems. Transit's share of the travel market in a given corridor leading to downtown can be even higher. Transit then becomes a critical element of the overall transportation system, with its importance heightened because it provides capacity for the peak period trips when roadway capacity is fully utilized. Table 16


2 provides a summary of the share of travel on transit for selected cities. The greatest potential for transit as a substitute for highway investments involves situations where demands for travel are large enough that substantial additional highway capacity is being considered in a fully developed corridor. Typically this involves consideration of whether or not transit investments could reduce or eliminate the need for significant expansion of radial freeway facilities to downtowns of large urban areas It is noted that transit guideway capacities can be as high as 20,000 or more passengers per hour per direction while a single freeway Jane has a capacity of less that 2000 vehicles per hour. Thus, in locations where there is a very strong demand that would use the transit guideway options, transit would require significantly less right-of-way and accordingly provide an opportunity to be a lower-cost, less disruptive solution. The high guideway cost of transit may be offset by the large number of freeway lanes r equired and by the large right-of-way and relocation costs associated with fitting an expanded freeway in a developed area. Ridership of ftXed guideway systems serving downtowns can be expressed effectively in terms of the number of highway lanes that would be required to p r ovide the equivalent capacity if the demand had to be carried in autos. In Chicago it would t ake well over 100 lanes of freeway capacity to r eplace all the commuter rail and rapid rail capacity to the downtown In Washington, D C., it would take approximately 30 freeway J anes to replace the util iz ed capacity of the Metrorail system. In M i ami it wou l d take approximately 3 freeway lanes to provide sufficient capacity for the current Miami metrorail ridership to be carried in autos with an average auto occupancy. I f the transit ridership could be shifted to buses, less roadway capacity would be required to provide equ i valent capacity. The locations where transit guideway facilities are a viable substitute for highway capacity expansion are where the volumes of demand are very high and where the share of that demand that could be attracted to transit is high enough to result in a reduction in highway capacity requirements. These types of situations are extremely difficuli to identify on an aggregate level for the state and are best determined in detailed corridor-level planning carried out in the various urban areas. Absent some radical changes in travel behavior, development policies, relative 17


City C:itles: Miami Tampa Jac.ksonviUe Tallahassee St.. Petersburg Orlando Sarasoca West Pahn Beach Lakeland ft. Myers Pensacola Gaioesville Ft. Lauderdale Daytona Beach OthT Citie.o;: Houston, TX Boscon, MA Detroic, M1 Phoenix, AZ. Baltimore, MD Seattle, WA San Diego, CA St. Paul, MN Salt Lake City, l.JT Austin, TX San Jose, CA I Baton Rouge, lA Charlescon, SC SpriDgfield, fL Tucson, AZ Manches ter !'.'H Ft. Collins., CO BloomiDgton, I N Tabie 2 Percent of CBD Work Trips Made oo Transit CBD Employment 21,743 1 6,651 16,497 12,1342 10,626 7,004 4 :902 4,106 3 691 3,605 3,376 3,349 3,293 82,686 7 5 ,872 55,695 .5:;,366 47,822 29.081 ,., ... 540 .... '22,180 19,942 14,701 11,518 10.968 10,032 9 ,981 6,707 6,303 5,352 I I I I Share of CBD Trips oo Transit 21.6% 8.::% 19.5% 6.1% .,.,ot 0 0.3% L5% 0.6% 1.9% 3.5% 2.8% 4 .2% 1.6% 15.0% '28.9% 25. 9% 3.0% 37.0% 48. 6% 13.7% 34.5% 18.1% 5.4% 7.0% 1.8% 7.1% 9.1% 9.0% 7.0% 1.3% 2.0% Source: 1980 Ce:>sus of P opulation, JoUilley t o Work: Characteristics of Wor kers in Metrooolitan Areas, Volumes 1, Report PCSO 2 6D. Note: Rapid growth in Florida cities since 1980 may have resulted in change,. particulariy in CBD employment. 18


costs of travel on highway and transit modes, or other conditions, the share of the unmet highway needs that can be met by transit facility expansion will be a modest but important share of the total travel demand The Cost of Transit Versus Highway Capacity Expansion On average, the public sector expenditure in the U.S. to transport someone a mile on transit is several times the cost of moving someone a mile on a highway facility. Based on the spending and vehicle miles of travel data from the 19,89 Highway Fact Book, annual expenditures for roadways per vehicle mile of travel is 3.6 cents. Per passenger mile expenditures would then be approximately 3 cents per person mile. The 1988 Transit Fact Book reports average transit operating assistance for 1987 to be approximately 20 cents per passenger mile. The eapital expenditures per passenger mile for transit would add an additional amount of approximately 10 cents to the public sector expenditures per transit passenger mile. Historically, transit capital investments have been evaluated against a benchmark cost per new passenger trip of $6, which is estimated to be approximately twice the marginal cost per new trip estimated for urban road way capacity expansion. While these average numbers are important reference points in discussions about. cos t effectiveness, the myriad of issue s related to defining and measuring costs and b enefits for a given transportati on investment in a given context makes cost comparisons very complex. Several parameters are important in understanding the true comparisons between investments. Are total or just public sector costs being looked at? The comparison of the relative public sector cost of transit versus highway modes is not necessarily a fair overall comparison of cost effectiveness since the relative burden of public s ector versus total costs differs between the modes. The nature of fixed guideway transit facilities incorporates into the public sec tor side of the cost equation a variety of costs that for highway facilities are provided by the private sector. Among the more obvious is the inclusion of the veh icles (buses or rail cars) as part of the public sector infrastructure for fixed guideway facilities, but part of the private sector side of the cost equation for roadway costs. Operating labor is similarly provided by the public sector in the case of transit but provided by the private 19


vehicle owner in the case of the roadway system Other costs showing up on the public side of the equation for transit incl u de the insurance liability and the cost of maintaining and garaging the vehicles. It is increasingly common for the costs for security to be included in transit operating costs while police coverage of roadway crime and accidents is not a cost that shows up as a roadway operating cost. Thus, while a total cost of transportation comparison of the various modes may favor each in a given context, a comparison of the l owest public sector cost may produce a diffe r ent res u lt. There is no definitive reference on the comparative cost of the modes simp l y because t h e impacts of the modes are so pervasive that there is no consensus as to how to fully account f o r all the i mpacts. For examp l e it is often argued that t h e environme n tal and energy consequences of automobi l e travel a re n ot fully reflected in cost estimates for auto travel. Similarly, the impacts of consuming non-renewable fuels are often noted as not fully reflected in the costs of auto travel. On the other hand, the economic impacts of the automobile transportation industry are enormous and significant changes would certainly have serious impacts While the emp l oyment be n efits of transit investments are often noted, the impact to employment in a u to support industries is not mentioned The con v enience and travel time advantages of each mode in a given context also provide a difficult to quantify i mpact. Other cautionary warnings in reviewing modal cost comparisons inc l ude being careful to understand whether cost comparisons use the reported capacity of the mode or the estimated passenger volumes in calculating per trip costs One should also note whether or not the total cost of improvements is considered and whether or not the cost effectiveness represents the cost per total or per marginal user. One has to carefully review . the use of national averages and norms in a specific local context. Assumptions about discount rates, values of travel time savings, the expected life of vario u s infrastructure investments and opportunity costs are among the other factors that deserve careful consideration when reviewi n g cost comparisons In conducting cost analyses of transportation projects both total and public sector costs for 20


both capital and operations deserve consideration, however, these types of analyses are too narrow to reflect the full range of values that are relevant in making major transportation investments deci,sions. Solving urban transportation problems requires context specific analysis and detailed eva lu ation using relevant local, state and national objectives in order to make valid project level tradeoffs. Transit's Role in Reducing Congestion Transit is frequently perceiv!ld as a reliever of congestion. Indeed, for a constant travel demand, the addition of transit capacity could reduce congestion if it attracts riders. If the invest ment attracts additional development and travel or results in decisions to forgo other roadway capacity expansion, t he net impact may be a worsening o f congestio n. Empirically the evidence is quite convincing. Cities with greater travel congestion are among those with the greatest transit use. Washington, Boston, Chicago, New York, and other cities with transit systems considered successful, are among the most congested urban areas. Congestion is almost a prerequisite to successful transit. For transit to become attractive requires the alternative means of travel to have disadvantages in terms of travel time and parking availability or cost. The consumer's choice of transit is very rational; when the alternative is more attractive the consumer will choose it. If transit is successful in stimulating development and indeed is used as an alternative to additional highway investment, then the ability of transit to reduce roadway congestion is limited. Fully understanding the travelers' response to public transit is a complex undertaking There is a strong temptation to forecast continued growth in travel demand and modest or no increases in roadway capacity and conclude that obviously transit will capture a larger share of overall demand. However, the total transportation demand and the demand for transit are very different, and the ability to shift demands from auto to transit i s limited, though potentially important in some of the more congested urban corridors. While it is intuitively attractive to presume that transportation demands that cannot be accommodated on roadway facilities will, out of necessity, shift to transit, the range of opportunities available to the trip maker are many. Faced with travel during a congested morning rush 21


hour, for example, an individual may make a variety of choices including moving to a location where there is less congestion; working in a location where there is less congestion; traveling to work at a different time (before or after the rush period); taking a different, les s congested route to work; working at home; sharing a ride with someone else thus reducing frustrations and traffic; walking or biking if possible; tolerating the congestion; or taking transit. Over the past several years congestion has increased in most urban areas while transit use has declined or remained constant. It is not clear what levels of congestion will be tolerated by the public before there is a more substantial shift toward transit use Equally important, it is not clear whether individua.Js and businesses making location decisions will tolera te the levels of congestion required to make transit successful before choosing to locate in less congested areas. The suitability of transit as an alternative to roadway expansion is very much constrai ned by travel behavior and land use conditions. Current travel decision-making by the vast majority of the public fo rgoes transit use in favor of using the private auto, in spite of the fact that congestion is worsening. A significant shift to bus use or other shared ride alternatives could virtually elimi nat e current congestion problems with no new roadway capacity. Overcoming individuals' desires for personal convenience is necessary for this option to become an important component of solving the transportation capacity problem. The challenge becomes one of making transit sufficiently attractive to capture travelers from the auto mode or of allowing auto congestion and parking availability and cost to become so intolerable that the transit alternative becomes attractive. There are no urban environments were the transit service has been made so attractive as to entice enough travelers from the roadway system to result in uncongested auto flows. Nor bas American society been particular successful in encouraging persons to make decisions that, while not individually optimal, produce the socially optimal result. Even the most attractive urban transit systems are no match for smooth-flowing roadways and available convenient auto parking for those persons who have the auto option. People choose to tolerat e significant levels of auto congestion before shifts to transit occur. 22


'Ihc question becomes one of knowing how intolerable the congestion must be before sufficient travelers shift to transit and knowing if this level of congestion is so severe that location decisions or roadway leve l-o f-service investment standards will preclude these conditions from being realized. There is no body of substantiated evidence that concludes a transit investment will reduce roadway congested. The presence of transit will increase the overall capacity in a corridor which may support more development than would be attracted to those locations otherwise. Thus, a transit investments may be as likely to increase congestion in a target corridor as it is to reduce it. There exists a perception among some that a commitment to a fixed guideway system will result in a dramatic change in transit ridership behavior by the public. Fixed guideway has advantages, including the ability to influence development, which will have an impact on demand; a physical presence that increases user awareness; a level of investment that affords improved performance over buses in traffic; an investment level sufficient to motivate supporting policy decisions; and an image that makes it more attractive to some riders. However, these advantages have not resulted in dramatic shifts in traveler behavior. Successful fixed guideway transit investments in the U. S. have been preceded by s trong market evidence of a demand for transit The best predictor of sucoess for a transit investment remains existing transit use in the corridor. Order of magni tude or other dramatic shifts in behavior have not been observed to result from fixed guideway investments. While the running speeds of some fiXed gu i deway systems can be considerably faster than for buses in mixed traffic, the attained door-to-door travel time for transit versus the alternatives remains the biggest determinant in travel decision making. The time for access to, egress from, fare payment, waiting and transfer time and time associated with intermediate station stops in a transit trip often result in the net travel time of the transit mode not b eing as attractive as one expects when they envision 60 mile per hour vehicles on exclusive guideways. Even the most moderri rail rapid transit systems such as the BART system in San Francisco and the Washington Metro system have average 23


station-to-station train speeds in the mid to low 30 mile per hour range; adding in the other time costs reduces the door-to-door average speed for transit trips significantly. Caution should be exercised in setting expectations concerning expansion of transit services. Transit authorities, while subject to some equity and policy constraints, in general try to focus transit services on their best transit markets. If indeed this is the case, then expansion of service would result in the marginal service being less cost effective than the current average of services provided. Indeed, this has been the case in various markets that have provided significant expapsions of transit service. Dallas, for example, approximately doubled the levels of transit service provided over a four-year period. The ridership response was an approximate 40% increase in ridership, indicating diminishing returns on the marginal investment. While the specific situation may differ in different contexts, increases in transit sexvice have not systematically evidenced proportional increases in ridership; thus, the average cost effectiveness of transit operations has declined with expanded service unless economies in the provision of service were implemented. While a long range land use response and changes in travel behavior may result in improved transit cost effectiveness over time, experience suggests that market expansion will most likely be accompanied with declining cost effectiveness for services. This is similar to roadway expansion, where the marginal cost of expansion is considerably greater than the average cost of existing roadway capacity. Expanding transportation supply results in subsequent increments in capacity in a corridor typically being more expensive and less effective as they focus on meeting the capacity needs of only the peak period travelers. The Impact of Fixed Guideway Investments on Transit Capital Needs Major transit investments should be targeted to those areas where the demand for travel (and development) is strong and where there is evidence that transit has established a strong base market that can be expanded into a market capable of supporting additional transit investment. In evaluating transit needs it is particularly important to fully understand the assumed extent of construction of fixed guideway lines or systems as an element of the total transit needs for a given area. Fixed guideway systems, particularly rail systems, are major cost 24


components that can dramatically influenc e overall reported capital needs. Fixed guideway projects are capital intensive the fact that the guideway is a cost borne by the transit operator (as opposed to buses that operate o n roads paid for with non-transit funds) significantly increases the costs for a given capacity. In addition, rail systems are typically long-lived capital-intensive projects resulting in large capital re q uirements during construction. While a rail project may provide a very small share of the total service area coverage offere d by a transit provider or carry a modest share of the total ridership or capacity delivered, they can be a domina nt considerations in influencing capital needs. : Different judgements about the need for rail or its timing or cost or cost-sharing arrangements, can result in significant differences in capital needs for transit. Which Comes First Transit or Urban Density and Design to Support Transit? In evaluating t he appropriateness of additional funding for public transportation, one is often faced with the "chicken or egg" question of the transit debate. Which comes first -the land use and density conditions that support transit or the transit system that enc ourages these conditions to develop? How much should service be expanded beyond current demands in an effort to attract a greater market? Different answers to these questions lead to significantly different strategies for capital-intensive fiXed guideway investments and for transit service expansion Just how an area evolves from a land use pattern that is typical in much of Florida today into one that is s ufficiently conducive to transit is not a trivial problem. Can development be sufficie ntly encouraged with non fixed guideway transit to build the kind of densities appropriate as a prerequisite to guideway investment? Will concurrency complicate the problem of having attractive enough accessibility to stimulate growth while still not providing so much highway capacity so as to discourage transit use? Do early commitments to fixed guideway investments stimulate dense development, or are they risky, investments that may result in a facility operating far below its levels o f efficiency for many many years or forever? 25


The Role of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Facilities in Florida Transit Needs HOV's have historically been treated primarily as highway expansion projects in Florida, with funding for HOV's relying of roadway funding sources. Increasingly, HOV's are being considered as viable fiXed-guideway components of transit systems and being funded at least partially from transit revenue sources. Interestingly, no HOV needs are noted as requiring transit funds in existing needs req uests. HOV facilities or systems offer a low cost, flexible, easy to implement alternative, yet they are not currently perceived as meriting investment of transit funds or perceived to be as attractive as rail projects. If subsequent planning and analysis identified HOV's as the preferred alternatives for major urban areas that are currently basing needs estimates on a presumption of rail, transit needs estimates or source of funds estimates could be significantly changed. Coordination of Transit and Highway Planning It is important that not only roadway and transit investments be coordinated, bu t that transportation investments be coordinated with land use plans, parking policies, urban design policies, and related public and private sector activities that affect transportation and are affected by transportation. The coordination of highway and transit investments is the essence of effective planning and a reality of limited resources. Not only should these facilities be coordinated to ensure the most efficient utilization of resources by not creating competition for a given demand but the coordination should extend to optimizing the interface between modes and coordinating investments to minimize disruption, enhance safety, and reduce costs where possible. Examples of this type of coordination are particularly imp ortant in situations where corridor improvements include joint projects such as a transit right-of-way constructed in conjunction with a r oadway imp r ovement program. Coordination of investments can be dealt with by a number of means including: good information exchange between responsible planning agencies, multimodal transportation planning studies at the regiona l and corridor levels, and integrated decision-making and programming of transportation resources. 26


Each successive approach provides greater assurance that the planning of transportation facilities will be integrated but also bas greater implications in terms of the institutional and policy implications of the changes. Good information exchange relies on technical professionals' desires to do a good job of planning to insure coordination of transportation investments, while integrated decision-making and progranuning of transportation resources moves that responsibility to the decision-maker level of authority. Good integrated planning is under way in many urban areas : and well within the expertise of the transportation planning profession. The ultimate assurance of coordination in investment decision making will require that project-level transportation investment decisions be made by a body with multi-modal responsibilities for transportation. This concept is contrary to the strategy that has been pursued in many urban locations of establishing a dedicated agency and resource to fund transit services and capital improvements. This separate structure, often favored as assuring a stable and dedicated commitment to transit that will not be overwhelmed by the "more powerful highway interests," might preclude the complete integration of modal investment decision-making and, hence, may preclude complete coordination of facilities if, in spite of good planning knowledge, modal interests result in competing facilities. The broader issue of coordination of transportation planning with land use and urban design planning is equally important to the success of transit investments. While beyond the scope of this discussion, recent activities in the area of comprehensive planning merit monitoring and refinements as necessary to ensure integration of land use and transportation planning. Summary The expectations surrounding the role of transit, the impacts that will be associated with major transit investments, and the conditions required to enable transit to play a larger role are important in deliberations concerning the appropriate level of investment in transit. As the information presented here indicates, transit is an integral tool in addressing overall 27


mobility but not a panacea for urban mobility probletTIS. Financial support for transit should be balanced with pragmatic expectations and the frequently more difficult policy commitments to ensure supportive land use, urban design, parking and related policies. Transit investment commitments should be preceded by substantive evidence of demand and conditioned on supportive policies and coordinated roadway investments. Caution should be used in making major financial commitments to projects that require for success dramatic changes in travel behavior or land use development trends. The very real desire to provide improved mobility and enhanced quality of Life through better public transportation must be balanced against the performance trends, risks, and uncertainti-es '' associated with major commitments to expensive mass transit projects. The last decade has provided an opportunity for the transit industry to learn more about the providing mobility in contemporary American cities. Service is increasingly being modified to respond to changing travel patterns, the value of customer awareness and marketing have been realized as has the need to provide high quality service to attract the discretionary traveler. The need for coordinated planning and careful monitoring of operating and capital costs are lessons known to all transit operators. These lessons provide a strong basis for transit to position itself to play an important role in providing mobility in the decades ahead. But, as the preceding discussions suggest, this will not be easy or without controversy. Progress will require a partnership of all levels of government and a sustained effort to meet the needs of the public. 28


Download Options

Choose Size
Choose file type
Cite this item close


Cras ut cursus ante, a fringilla nunc. Mauris lorem nunc, cursus sit amet enim ac, vehicula vestibulum mi. Mauris viverra nisl vel enim faucibus porta. Praesent sit amet ornare diam, non finibus nulla.


Cras efficitur magna et sapien varius, luctus ullamcorper dolor convallis. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Fusce sit amet justo ut erat laoreet congue sed a ante.


Phasellus ornare in augue eu imperdiet. Donec malesuada sapien ante, at vehicula orci tempor molestie. Proin vitae urna elit. Pellentesque vitae nisi et diam euismod malesuada aliquet non erat.


Nunc fringilla dolor ut dictum placerat. Proin ac neque rutrum, consectetur ligula id, laoreet ligula. Nulla lorem massa, consectetur vitae consequat in, lobortis at dolor. Nunc sed leo odio.