U of M light rail tunnel could be back on the table by Laura Yuen,
Minnesota Public Radio May 13, 200
St. Paul, Minn. — Oberstar, who chairs the influential House Transportation Committee, supports the Central Corridor project linking St. Paul and Minneapolis.
The DFLer said a recently passed bill changes how the Federal Transit Administration evaluates transportation projects that are seeking federal money.
Under the old system, Oberstar said the FTA focused on what's known as the cost-effectiveness index. The CEI is a complicated formula that looks at travel times, ridership and construction costs.
But Oberstar said the index means the agency essentially ignores other factors, such as environmental benefits and the potential for economic development. He pushed for the recent changes, which will require the FTA to also give comparable weight to five other criteria.
Federal Guidelines, and Funds, Direct Plans for Dulles, Purple Lines at Every Step
By Katherine Shaver and Amy Gardner
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, August 27, 2007; B01
The key decisions about Maryland's proposed Purple Line -- the route it takes, the type of rail cars it uses, the possibility of tunneling underground -- will be determined not by public opinion or political pressure.
Rather, a single agency that controls the limited federal money set aside for transit projects will shape the rail or bus line that could eventually link Bethesda and New Carrollton.
The Federal Transit Administration, which helped sink plans for a tunnel through Tysons Corner and is demanding further cost accounting for the proposed Metro line through Dulles International Airport, will likewise dictate what any new transit line through suburban Maryland would look like and when -- or whether -- there will be money to build it.
"It's the driving force behind the planning process," Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari said of the competition for federal money. "You can have the best conceived transit project in the world, and it's not going forward if it doesn't qualify for federal funding."
Unlike federal highway funds, which states receive based on a formula and may spend as they wish, money for new transit projects is awarded at the discretion of the FTA. The agency doesn't have much to dole out. The FTA has proposed spending about $1.4 billion on new transit projects next fiscal year, compared with $42 billion that states will receive for highway maintenance and construction, according to federal figures. More than 100 transit projects across the country are expected to compete for federal money in coming years, according to a federal report.
© 2007 SAGE Publications
Analysis of Rail Transit Project Selection Bias With an Incentive Approach
The World Bank,Washington, DC, USA
Rail transit investments have been widely supported by the local planning agencies and government financing resources for their perceived environmental and social benefits, as well as the compact development patterns rail corridors support. Despite the widespread expectations, the sustainability of rail transit projects is often found questionable, as are the actual benefits rail investments can bring about in practice. One of the reasons for rail investments' tendency to perform less well than expected has been identified as a prevailing bias of local officials toward high-capital rail transit investments that are underwritten by the transit financing mechanism (Johnston et al., 1988; Kain, 1990; Pickrell, 1992; Richmond, 1999; Flyvbjerg et al., 2003, 2004, 2005). This article examines the funding mechanism problem underlying the rail transit project selection bias and hypothesizes this problem to be a principal-agent problem. Incentive theory is introduced as an analytical tool to model the problem, to better understand the nature and causes of the problem, and to suggest solutions to it. By applying incentive theory to analyze the project development process of the US New Starts program, it is suggested that the funding mechanism problem associated with the bias toward capital-intensive rail investments can be viewed as a principal-agent problem between the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) (the principal) and local project sponsors (the agent). The incentive approach proposed in this article provides insights for analyzing the relation between central government and local agencies in the planning and decision-making process of rail transit investment, and for addressing political problems, primarily rent-seeking behaviors, associated with central government earmark funding.
Key Words: incentive theory • light rail transit • principal-agent problem • project selection bias
A recent study report (R-102, Transit-Oriented Development in the United States: Experiences, Challenges, and Prospects) published by the Transit Cooperative Research Project (TCRP) defines transit-oriented development (TOD) as compact, mixed-use development near transit facilities and high-quality walking environments. The TCRP study concludes that the typical TOD leverages transit infrastructure to promote economic development and smart growth, and to cater to shifting market demands and lifestyle preferences. TOD is about creating sustainable communities where people of all ages and incomes have transportation and housing choices, increasing location efficiency where people can walk, bike and take transit. In addition, TOD boosts transit ridership and reduce automobile congestion, providing value for both the public and private sectors, while creating a sense of community and place.
COURSE NUMBER: FHWA-NHI-142042
COURSE TITLE: Fundamentals of Title VI/Environmental Justice
LENGTH: 2 Days CEU: 1.2 Units
FEE: $270 Per Participant
CLASS SIZE: Minimum:20; Maximum:30
Environmental justice and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 apply to every stage of transportation decisionmaking. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and its partners are committed to integrating the nondiscrimination principles of environmental justice and Title VI into all Federal-aid programs. Through these and other transportation programs, many opportunities exist to establish partnerships with other public and private organizations to create livable communities that meet the needs of all people. This course presents participants with a framework for using a variety of approaches and tools for accomplishing environmental justice goals in Federal-aid programs and other transportation projects.
The FTA Office of Civil Rights conducts periodic discretionary compliance reviews of recipients of FTA funding, including transit providers, state Departments of Transportation, and Metropolitan Planning Organizations to determine their compliance with FTA Circular 4702.1, "Title VI Program Guidelines for Federal Transit Administration Recipients." Compliance reviews also provide technical assistance and make recommendations regarding corrective actions, as deemed necessary and appropriate.
Beginning in 2002, FTA has conducted compliance reviews and finalized reports for the following grant recipients:
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In 2006, the Federal Transit Administration Office of Civil Rights initiated the Transportation Equity Research Program (TERP) pursuant to Section 3046(a)(3) of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act, a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).
Section 3046(a)(3) states that "not less than $1 million of research funds shall be allocated towards research and demonstration activities that focus on the impacts that transportation planning, investment, and operations have on low-income and minority populations that are transit dependent. Such activities shall include the development of strategies to advance economic and community development in low-income and minority communities and the development of training programs that promote the employment of low-income and minority residents on Federal-aid transportation projects constructed in their communities."