January 13, 2010
The Death of TSUB?
For a couple of decades, if you wanted to get Federal funding for a transit project, TSUB was your bane of your existance. "Transit System User Benefit" was a complicated computer model that scored your project, essentially rating you on how far and how fast you moved people. It was all about mobility and not about access at all.
Under the Bush administration, the FTA applied TSUB to the the "Small Starts" program that Congress created to fund streetcars, even though the legislation suggested other criteria were more important. It was not until the Obama administration essentially decided to ignore it that the Streetcar Loop project got funded.
But hopefully those days are over now, based on an announcement from USDOT today focusing on livability:
In a dramatic change from existing policy, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today proposed that new funding guidelines for major transit projects be based on livability issues such as economic development opportunities and environmental benefits, in addition to cost and time saved, which are currently the primary criteria.
In remarks at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting, the Secretary announced the Obama Administration's plans to change how projects are selected to receive federal financial assistance in the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) New Starts and Small Starts programs. As part of this initiative, the FTA will immediately rescind budget restrictions issued by the Bush Administration in March of 2005 that focused primarily on how much a project shortened commute times in comparison to its cost.
"Our new policy for selecting major transit projects will work to promote livability rather than hinder it," said Secretary LaHood. "We want to base our decisions on how much transit helps the environment, how much it improves development opportunities and how it makes our communities better places to live."
The change will apply to how the Federal Transit Administration evaluates major transit projects going forward. In making funding decisions, the FTA will now evaluate the environmental, community and economic development benefits provided by transit projects, as well as the congestion relief benefits from such projects.
"This new approach will help us do a much better job of aligning our priorities and values with our transit investments" said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. "No longer will we ignore the many benefits that accrue to our environment and our communities when we build or expand rail and bus rapid transit systems."
FTA will soon initiate a separate rulemaking process, inviting public comment on ways to appropriately measure all the benefits that result from such investments
Congressman Blumenauer heralded this as "Another great day for streetcars!"
January 13, 2010 2:46 PM
Jeff F Says:
Chris, I think Earl's last name needs a little help here.
January 13, 2010 3:03 PM
Chris Smith Says:
January 13, 2010 3:04 PM
R A Fontes Says:
I can't help but wonder that WES might have passed muster with the FTA under the new rules while it failed with the old ones. It reads like every gold plated boondoggle will have a much easier time feeding at the federal trough while those of us who just want decent transit will get stiffed.
"Another great day for streetcars" is not necessarily a good one for people.
January 13, 2010 3:36 PM
So basically, the new evaluation process will no longer include quantifiable measurements (like ridership and congestion reduction). Instead, projects will be approved based on feel-good buzz words that can't be measured, like "livability" and "sustainability," or their potential to leverage development subsidies.
January 13, 2010 4:36 PM
Bob R. Says:
Anthony wrote: "the new evaluation process will no longer include quantifiable measurements" (emphasis added)
From the original press release (above):
In making funding decisions, the FTA will now evaluate the environmental, community and economic development benefits provided by transit projects, as well as the congestion relief benefits from such projects. (emphasis added)
FTA will soon initiate a separate rulemaking process, inviting public comment on ways to appropriately measure all the benefits that result from such investments (emphasis added)
January 13, 2010 4:37 PM
Bob R. Says:
It should also be noted that most federal highway projects don't have to go through anything as rigorous as TSUB. (They do often require an EIS, but then so do transit projects.)
January 13, 2010 9:54 PM
Admittedly off topic, but definitely for transit lovers: two jokes.
Tri-Met is missing out on a huge marketing opportunity with the Green Line. Considering where it goes and that trains make a certain iconic sound, The Green is just one letter away from being "The ClackaMax"
Many people say that pi r square
But in fact we know that most pie are round
What is incontrovertible is that pi are found
in the Robertson Tunnel
(It's written to 107 decimal places on the wall above the core midway in the eastbound station, immediately below the announcement sign).
January 13, 2010 10:04 PM
Bob R. Says:
It's written to 107 decimal places
Well, then it's only a piece-of-pi. (Pizza pie?)
January 13, 2010 10:36 PM
Excellent addition, sir!
January 14, 2010 6:14 PM
Douglas K. Says:
It is, in fact, highly controvertible that pi is found in the Robertson tunnel. The number carved there is not pi. Although it clearly was meant to be.
Although maybe it's actually a slice of pi.
January 15, 2010 12:18 AM
Darn! Well, if it was meant to be pi but is not, is it perhaps at least a torte?
I think perhaps Tri-Met has a tort against the artist.