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Early Review of the U.S. DOT's New Performance Measurement Rule

An initial review by City Observatory's Joe Cortright doesn't find much to indicate that the new U.S. DOT 's performance measurement rule for transportation systems will set a new transportation policy agenda.
April 21, 2016, 8am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"We’ve just gotten our first look at the new US Department of Transportation performance measurement rule [pdf] for transportation systems," writes Joe Cortright, who begins the process of evaluating whether the new rule will address the longstanding shortage of quantitative standards for measuring transportation systems.

After arguing for the importance of these rule—and debunking the notion that standards such as these are the sole province of technocratic trivia—Cortright provides an initial assessment framed by the words "excessive" and "expectations." Perhaps unsurprisingly, Cortright quickly identifies shortcomings in the rule, such as its priority on vehicle, not personal delay. "So a bus with 40 or 50 passengers has its vehicle delay weighted the same amount according to this metric as a single occupancy vehicle," explains Cortright.

Although Cortright acknowledges that the new rule is an improvement over other measures, like the Texas Transportation Institute's Travel Time Index, the measure "seems to impart a strong 'build, baby, build' bias to the indicators." Cortright also notes specifically that only six pages of the 425-page document addresses greenhouse gas emissions. Even those six pages "read like a bad book report and a 'dog-ate-my-homework' excuse for doing nothing now."

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Published on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 in City Observatory
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