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Center Identification Number:  71327 

Project Title: An Analysis of the Impacts of the Fixed-Route Transit in Florida

Principal Investigator:

Xuehao Chu, Senior Research Associate
Phone: 813-974-9831

Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
Fax: 813-974-5168

External Project Contact:     

Diane Quigley
Transit Planning Administrator - Florida Department of Transportation
(850) 414-4520

Start and End Dates

Start Date:  December 2009               Expected End Date: December 2010

I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

As part of its effort in developing Transit 2020: Florida’s Strategic Plan for Public Transportation in 1998, the Department in 1997 asked the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) to undertake an analysis of the economic contributions that fixed-route transit made to the state. While recognizing potential impacts on other areas, that analysis quantified four types of economic impacts: benefits to transit users, benefits to highway users, savings to transportation disadvantaged programs, and increased earnings from new federal grants. CUTR developed different methods for these impact types and applied these methods to data that reflect 1995 conditions of urban fixed-route transit in Florida. The result is the 1997 report titled An Analysis of the Economic Impacts of Urban Transit Systems on Florida’s Economy.

Significant changes have occurred with urban fixed-route transit in Florida since 1995. The following are a few indicators of these changes from 1995 through 2007:

• The number of fixed-route transit systems increased from 19 to 28.

• Service in terms of vehicle revenue miles increased by 61%.

• Ridership in terms of passenger miles traveled increased by 59%.

 • Transportation disadvantaged program trips on fixed-route services jumped by 94%.

In addition to these changes in urban fixed-route transit in Florida, advances may have been made in the literature since 1997 in methods for estimating the various types of economic impact that urban transit may have on a local economy. Such advances may have been included in guidebooks on conducting analyses of economic impacts of transit services. They may have also been made in individual studies of the economic impacts of urban transit.

Finally certain impacts of urban fixed-route transit that were not quantified in the 1997 study have become significant interests to the public and policy makers. These include the positive impacts of urban fixed-route transit on the health of the public, air quality, energy conservation, and mobility of the elderly and school-age population. While the role of urban fixed-route transit in emergency evacuation has also become of great interest, its quantification is difficult.


II.  Objectives/Tasks

One objective is to conduct an analysis of the contribution that urban fixed-route transit makes to the state of Florida in the following areas:

1. Direct benefits to transit users,

2. Direct benefits to highway users,

3. Savings to transportation disadvantaged programs, and

4. Additional income to workers from new Federal spending.

Another objective is to expand the scope of the 1997 study by including an analysis of the impact that urban fixed-route transit has in Florida in the following areas:

5. Health of the public,

6. Air quality,

7. Energy conservation, and

8. Mobility of the elderly and school-aged population.

The Department will be developing its new transit strategic plan, Transit 2030, in early 2011. The results from this project will be an important part of the input into the process of developing Transit 2030. The following tasks have been designed to accomplish these two objectives:

Task 1. Evaluating Existing Methods

This task would evaluate the methodology used in the 1997 analysis of economic impacts and determine if the whole methodology or any component method is still appropriate for the current analysis. The previous methodology had a different method for each of the four types of economic impact. The prior methods will be evaluated to see if they remain the most appropriate state of practice methods and if the data necessary to implement these methods is available.

This task will also review existing methods for estimating the other impacts. The starting point would be the series of reports and brochures by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), including Public Transportation: Benefits for the 21st Century. On transit’s impacts on air quality and energy conservation, many of the results in these reports and brochures come from three studies:

1. Shapiro, RJ, KA Hassett, and FS Arnold (2002). Conserving Energy and Preserving the Environment: The Role of Public Transportation. 2. Bailey, L. (2007). Public Transportation and Petroleum Savings in the U.S.: Reducing Dependence on Oil. 3. Bailey, L., PL Mokhtarian, and A Little (2008). The Boarder Connection between Public Transportation, Energy Conservation and Greenhouse Gas Reduction.

The basic approach in the first two studies is the same and tries to answer the following question: How much change would occur to air quality and energy conservation if public transit were not available? The third study, however, involves the use of a complex statistical method (i.e., structural equations modeling), a significant amount of supplemental data to the 2001 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), and advanced statistical analysis. These studies will be reviewed with respect to the methods and data used and the potential to be applied to this project.

The other impacts cited by APTA vary in many ways. On transit’s impacts on the health of the public and mobility of the elderly and school-aged population, the results largely relied on estimates from the 2001 NHTS. On health impacts, the results focused on the amount of exercise time in terms walking and biking for access and egress. On mobility impacts, the results focused on the use of public transit for mandatory activities by these population segments.

Task 2. Developing New Methods

This task will develop a set of methods for estimating the economic impacts. Once the overall methodology and the component method for each type of economic impact are determined, this task will develop the methods so that they are ready for estimating economic impacts. This task would also develop methods for estimating the other impacts in this project. The current plan is to start with the methods mentioned in Task 1 and to modify when needed. The approach used by the first two studies on air quality and energy conservation is sound, for example, but its application in those two studies may have seriously biased the results. One reason is that these applications assume that all passenger miles traveled on public transit now would be shifted to private motor vehicles if public transit were not available. The final methods must avoid such biasing assumptions.

Task 3. Assembling the Data

This task would determine the specific data needs for applying the individual component methods from Task 2 and Task 3 and assemble these data for each method. If the final overall methodology for economic impacts includes savings to transportation disadvantaged programs and the final component method is the same, for example, this task would assemble several pieces of information from each transportation disadvantaged program in counties with fixed-route transit. These information pieces include the number of transportation disadvantaged program trips made on fixed-route transit and the average cost of all transportation disadvantaged program trips for each county with fixed-route transit.

Task 4. Estimating the Impacts

This task would bring everything together to obtain the final estimates of the impacts of urban fixed-route transit in Florida. For each type of impact to be estimated within this project, this task would apply the method developed in Task 2 to the data assembled in Task 3. The total economic impacts would simply be the sum of those impacts across all types of economic impacts explicitly estimated within this project. The other impacts would likely have different units and would be stated separately from each other.

Task 5. Writing the Final Report

This task will develop the project final report, including documenting the data analysis, developing a draft report, and revising the draft report. The 1997 report would be the starting point for outlining the final report. The final report may also discuss differences and similarities between the results from this project and those from other studies when feasible. One particular criterion for feasibility is whether the methodology is sufficiently documented for the other studies. At a minimum, this discussion would include recent reports on the subject by APTA, the 2009 FDOT report on the economic impacts of Florida’s transportation investments, and selected specific reports that Florida transit properties may have produced. The draft final report would be reviewed internally within CUTR before it is submitted to FDOT for its review. FDOT’s comments on the submitted draft final report would be the basis for developing the final report.

Task 6. Designing the Brochure

This task will summarize the results from the final report into a full-color tri-fold brochure for the general public. The brochure would cover those areas of impacts that are explicitly quantified in this project, including both economic impacts and other impacts. Work not included in this scope of service is not to be performed and will not be subject to compensation by the Department.

III. Deliverables

Project deliverables will include the draft final report, the final report, and 500 printed copies of the brochure. In addition to these project deliverables there will be quarterly progress reports communicated with the FDOT Project Manager via e-mail and conference calls on an as needed basis. The deliverables will be edited for technical accuracy, grammar, clarity, organization, and format prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. Invoicing will occur, subsequent to the quarterly progress reports.


I.                  V.  Project Schedule

                It is anticipated that the project will be completed within 13 months of the issuance of the Notice to Proceed from the Department. To give the Department adequate time for reviewing, the draft final report and the draft brochure are scheduled to be delivered via e-mail to the Department by the end of September. This schedule of draft deliverables gives a total of two months for review and revision. The final report will be delivered by November 2010 and the brochure by December 2010. This schedule ensures that the final results will be available when the Department begins updating its Transit Strategic Plan, Transit 2030, in early 2011.



V.  Project Budget

Fixed Price Subtotal                                                                        113,912

Indirect Cost (fixed price subtotal x 10%)                                       11,391

Total Fixed Price Amount                                                                125,303


Note: This project will be executed under the Master Agreement with USF. The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above.

It is estimated that purchasing the full set of RIMS II final-demand multipliers from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis will cost $250 for Florida in late 2010. The current price for a single region is $225. In addition, it is estimated that printing each full-color tri-fold brochure will cost $0.75 in late 2010.

VI. Equipment

No need for non-standard equipment is expected for conducting the proposed research.

VII. Travel

No travel is planned.

National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · · Comments: