Center Identification Number: 77922
Project Title: Project UCARE: Uniform Cost Accounting and Reporting Elements for Transportation Demand Management Programs (77922)
Phil Winters, TDM Program Director
Ed Hillsman, Senior Research Associate
Sara Hendricks, Senior Research Associate
Center for Urban Transportation Research
External Project Contact:
Michael M. Wright
Start and End Dates
Start Date: February 2010 Expected End Date: May 2011
I. Project Objective/Problem Statement
The primary objective of Project UCARE (Uniform Cost Accounting and Reporting Elements) is to develop and test a candidate reporting system which will accumulate commuter assistance program industry financial and operating results by uniform categories. The system is to be designed so that it can be eventually implemented on an industry-wide basis. To ensure the feasibility of future implementation, the candidate reporting system will be tested for practicality and usefulness at selected operating sites. Ultimately, the information collected through an industry-wide reporting system will be designed to address the needs of:
- Individual commuter assistance programs for benchmarking and comparing their performance with other commuter assistance programs with similar characteristics.
- Transportation-related industry associations for monitoring industry performance and needs.
- Federal, state, and local government agencies for commuter assistance program industry analysis and for financial assistance program administration.
With growing concern over greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion and the prospects of cap and trade looming in the future, both the private and public sectors have recognized the importance of timely and accurate data in assessing the continued progress of all strategies to manage travel demand. While the National Transit Database (NTD) of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) captures extensive information about public transit systems, there remains a substantial gap at the local, state and federal levels about other modes (e.g., private vanpools not reported under NTD, carpools) and other programs that could reduce vehicle trips and vehicle miles of travel (e.g., telework, compressed work week programs).
Data is being collected at the local and regional levels on many of these elements (e.g., State of Commute reports). However, the data has limitations in terms of uniformity of data definitions, consistency of reporting and accuracy which limits its applicability to benchmarking progress and identifying best practices. As federal, state, and local governments increase funding in TDM programs and services, the TRB Committee on TDM identified a need for a uniform system of accounts and records to help measure performance and foster continual improvement.
Like the NTD system which evolved from the transit industry-initiated Project FARE (Uniform Financial Accounting and Reporting Elements), Project UCARE (Uniform Cost Accounting and Reporting Elements for TDM) would seek to develop and maintain a voluntary data reporting system for local, regional, and state agencies. This data would be the primary source of comparative TDM information for program managers, researchers, and government officials as well as funding agencies.
This project would develop a uniform industry data reporting system by reaching out and involving key state departments of transportation with active roles in supporting and funding TDM (e.g., Florida, Washington, New Jersey, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, Georgia) and trade groups such as Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT). Project UCARE would develop and pilot test a new system of accounts and records to meet the needs of the industry and government agencies to monitor operating performance of demand management programs at the local/regional level. Data items could include revenues, government grants, capital and operating costs, organizational structure, number of employees, service provided (e.g., public vanpools, private vanpools, teleworkers, compressed work week participation, etc.), and operating performance (e.g., passenger trips provided in a non-single occupant vehicle (SOV), vehicle trip rate per 100 commuters, etc.).
II. Project Objectives and Tasks
The objective of the reporting system being designed in the Project UCARE is to provide the basis for collection and analysis of a data library describing the periodic financial and operating results of the nation's TDM industry. This information will allow commuter assistance programs (CAP) to deliver ever-improving value to customers, resulting in changes in travel behavior to reduce congestion, decrease emissions and improve mobility; and improve overall CAP operational performance (e.g., lower cost per customer served). Project UCARE also will help funding agencies like the Florida Department of Transportation to address CAP financial performance via two major paths (1) increasing emphasis on improving CAP productivity and lowering overall operating costs per customer served; and (2) supporting the CAP strategy development, providing valuable input in local and state transportation planning processes and decisions, and fostering innovation.
Please note that work not included in this scope of service will not to be performed and will not be subject to compensation by the Florida Department of Transportation. The following are the anticipated tasks necessary to achieve the above objective.
The proposed scope of service for this project consists of the following tasks. Work not included in this scope of service is not to be performed and will not be subject to compensation by the Department.
Task 1. Kick-Off Meeting, Peer Panel and Project Management
A net conference kick-off meeting will be scheduled to occur within the first 30 days of execution by the University. At a minimum, the project manager and the principal investigator will attend. The Research Center staff will be advised of the meeting and given the option to attend, in person or via netconference. Other parties may be invited, as appropriate. The subject of the meeting will be to review and discuss the project’s tasks, schedule, milestones, deliverables, reporting requirements, and deployment plan. Task 1 will also include project management, including preparation of quarterly progress reports and internal review. A summary of the kick-off meeting shall be included in the first progress report.
A peer panel consisting of members of user groups (e.g., Florida DOT, other state DOTs, MPOs), TDM industry representatives (e.g., Association for Commuter Transportation, TDM Institute, etc.) and commuter assistance programs will be formed to advise the project team at key points of the project. The panel will meet only by netconference.
Deliverable: Peer panel formed
Task 2. Identify the Information Requirements of the Potential Users of the System
The primary objective of the Task 2 work steps is to identify the anticipated information requirements of potential users such as TDM agencies and state departments of transportation. Our basic approach will be to reach out to a broad cross section of individuals in the industry who are expected to have meaningful input in the definition of information requirements. CUTR will leverage its industry contacts and TRANSP-TDM listserv’s 1,550+ members to identify material to be analyzed by a member of the project team. A summary of the pertinent material will be developed. CUTR will also review the NTD requirements as some agencies are reporting some activities to NTD.
Task 2 will also develop the preliminary design criteria. This step was scheduled early to establish a benchmark for other work steps to follow in Task 2. This early effort is designated "preliminary" to indicate that changes will be made to the design criteria as the project proceeds and more knowledge is gained which will affect criteria definition. Thus, the preliminary design criteria presented below represent a general statement of the objective and characteristics of the candidate reporting system, and they may change as the project proceeds.
The assumption made at this point about the preliminary design criteria is that to establish reliability and consistency of data, standard definitions of reporting categories would need to be uniformly applied by all TDM programs generating input to the database. Ideally, the reporting categories should be defined at the lowest feasible level of "units" to permit summarizing the data to higher level information categories in different ways according to the varying needs of different users. Another assumption is the desire of TDM agencies to limit the system to data that was generally available, yet not exclude data that could be obtained at reasonable cost and that would enhance the manageability of TDM programs. This task will identify the units and draft definitions for review and comment by the peer panel. This process is expected to be iterative.
The criteria likely will need to address quality control and access to information. In addition, because reporting to the system will be voluntary, criteria will need to address issues of incomplete submissions (an agency reports but not completely) and incomplete coverage (an agency is known to be active but does not report).
Deliverable: Summary of design criteria for inclusion in Technical Memorandum #1 and submitted after the completion of Tasks 2 and 3.
Task 3. Survey the Capability of Selected TDM Programs to Supply the Information Required
This task will begin with the development of a contact database of existing local and regional commuter assistance programs and transportation management associations in the U.S., using sources such as state departments of transportation, Association for Commuter Transportation, and the listserv to identify such programs.
An email/web-based survey will be developed and sent to all identified programs. The survey’s primary purpose is to provide broad coverage in measuring the industry's present reporting capability.
The information requirements identified in Task 2 must be balanced with the reporting capability identified in Task 4 to develop a practical reporting system which can be implemented in the foreseeable future.
Questions are likely to include, but not be limited to, identifying the
Clearly identifying the definitions will be an important step and ultimately gaining acceptance of a industry standard is essential for the system to work. For example, one agency may refer to customers as the number of individuals using the services whereas another agency may refer to the number of customer as a function of the frequency of use of services (e.g., the same individual requesting assistance four times equals four customers). Yet another may refer to employers rather than employees as customers.
Deliverable: Summary of survey results, also for inclusion in Technical
Memorandum #1 and submitted after the completion of Tasks 2 and 3.
Task 4. Develop a Candidate System of Reporting Elements for Which Implementation is Currently Feasible
With an eye to limiting the system to existing primary or secondary data or data that could be collected at reasonable cost, CUTR will develop a candidate system of reporting elements.
The ideal system should be easily communicable, and hence a better candidate for implementation, based on a two-dimensional structure identifying functions and objects classes. Functions are the activities performed within a TDM agency in order to provide TDM services. Object classes are the items obtained upon the expenditure of funds and necessary for the performance of functions.
A database structure will be established to collect, manage and report the data. The preliminary expectation is that the database will be web accessible though some level of detail may not be available to all.
Deliverable: Preliminary database design
Task 5. Pilot Test the Implementation of the Candidate System With Selected TDM Agencies
Two pilot field studies will be conducted after the responses to the emailed links to the questionnaire have been processed and analyzed. The field studies will seek to address issues that may be raised through the analysis of the responses to the survey.
CUTR will assist the collection of data from at least two commuter assistance programs with the intent of identifying implementation challenges. For example, data could be collected from a large TDM program (e.g., Bay Area Commuter Services or South Florida Commuter Services) and a medium TDM program or TMA (e.g., Commuter Services of Southwest Florida).
Deliverable: Data from at least two commuter assistance programs successfully entered into the database.
Task 6. Draft Final Report
The draft final report will be submitted 90 days prior to the end date of the task work order.
Deliverable: Draft Final Report, including information from Technical Memorandum #1 and summary of the database design and pilot test implementation.
Task 7. Final Report
Upon FDOT approval, the final report will be finalized and a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the project’s purpose, methodology, and results will be prepared and transmitted in electronic format to the Research Center.
Deliverable: Final Report
Deliverables for this project will include the following:
Quarterly Progress Reports CUTR will submit quarterly progress
reports to the Research Center. The first report will cover the activity
that occurred in the 90 days following the issuance of the Task Work Order.
A summary of the kick-off meeting shall be included in the first progress
Progress reports will contain the following information:
1. Contract Number, Task Work Order Number, and Title
2. Work performed during the period being reported
3. Work to be performed in the following period
4. Anticipated modifications (i.e., to funding, schedule, or scope). This section is for reporting/informational purposes, not for officially requesting an amendment.
Note: To request an amendment to a contract, CUTR will provide the
project manager with the appropriate information (i.e., what is being
requested with justification) in the required format. If the project manager
concurs with the request, he/she shall forward it with his/her approval and
commentary, as appropriate, to the Research Center for administrative review
and processing (pending available funds, etc.)
5. A Progress Schedule (Figures A, B, and C) updated to reflect
activities for the period being reported.
It will be edited for technical accuracy, grammar, clarity, organization, and format prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The Research Center expects contractors to be able to provide well-written, high-quality report that address the objectives defined by the scope of service. Draft final reports will be prepared in accordance with the Guidelines for Preparing Draft Final and Final Reports, found at http://www.dot.state.fl.us/research%2Dcenter/Program_Information/Guidelines%20for%20Preparing%20a%20Final%20Report%2012-07.pdf and in plain language according to the Governor’s initiative. This document provides information on all report requirements, including format requirements, the technical report documentation form, disclaimer language, and so forth.
The Florida Department of Transportation
Each copy will be provided on a CD or DVD (i.e., for a total of eight disks). If the project manager requires additional copies, such provision must be indicated in the scope.
The Florida Department of Transportation
I. V. Project Schedule
Start Date: February 2010 Expected End Date: May 2011
V. Project Budget
Fixed Price Subtotal 90,159.09
Indirect Cost (fixed price subtotal x 10%) 9,015.91
Total Fixed Price Amount 99,175.00
VI. Use of Graduate Student(s) and Other Research Assistants
Graduate students will assist in collection and synthesis of material from commuter assistance programs (Task 2). They also will identify contact information for the largest commuter assistance programs in the country and review of the National Transit Database structure (Task 3). Students will assist with the development of the database (Task 4). Graduate students will also assist with preparation of the final report draft Tasks 6 and 7).
No equipment will be needed.
VIII. Net Conferences
Net conferences will be used for the kickoff meeting, advisory panel meetings, and other meetings as required with the project manager or pilot sites.
It is anticipated that face to face meetings will be needed in the collection of data for the pilot test (Task 5). To the extent feasible, attempts will be made to secure case study examples within Florida, and within the Tampa Bay region, if possible, to incur vicinity mileage and parking charges only. If attempts to secure local case studies are not successful, staff may have to attempt to secure voluntary participation from commuter assistance agencies just beyond the Tampa Bay region. All travel must be in accordance with Section 112.061, Florida Statutes. FDOT employees may not travel on research contracts.
X. Description of Research Roles on the Project
Phil Winters will serve as the primary contact for the project and will
be responsible for project administration (Task 1). Mr. Winters, with
assistance from Dr. Hillsman, will prepare the survey to assess the
capability of selected TDM programs to supply the information required (Task
3), schedule and host teleconference/net conference meetings, coordinate
data collection and be responsible for the preparation and submittal of all
written deliverables (Tasks 3, 6 and 7). Mr. Winters will lead the effort to
solicit and arrange for the participation of commuter assistance programs
and in the requirement of pilot test sites (Task 5).
Sara Hendricks will provide input at the kick-off meeting (Task 1), and
assist Mr. Winters lead in identifying the information requirements of the
potential users of the system (Task 2). Ms. Hendricks will review the draft
survey (Task 3). She will assist the recruitment and selection pilot test
sites and assist in the implementation (Task 5). She will assist in the
drafting of the final report (Tasks 6 and 7).
Ed Hillsman will provide input at the kick-off meeting (Task 1), and lead
in identifying the information requirements of the potential users of the
system (Task 2). He will provide assistance on the design of the survey the
capability of selected TDM programs to supply the information required (Task
3). He will lead the development of a candidate system of reporting elements
for which implementation is currently feasible (Task 4) with significant
assistance provide by Mr. Winters and Ms. Hendricks. Graduate students
working on Task 5 will report to him. He will assist Mr. Winters in the
preparation and submittal of all written deliverables.
Jennifer Iley will provide assistance with contract administration, help
with the set-up of net conferences, and assist with the preparation of the
draft final report.
Joel Volinski will provide internal review of technical memoranda and the draft final report.
Patricia Ball will provide technical editing of the draft final report.
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