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Center Identification Number:  77925 

Project Title: Exploration of Transit's Sustainability Competitiveness

Principal Investigator:

Steven Polzin, Mobility Policy Director
Phone: 813-974-9839

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

External Project Contact:     

Amy Datz, Project Manager
Florida Department of Transportation
Transit Project Manager
Phone: 850-414-4239

Start and End Dates

Start Date:                Expected End Date:

I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

With the growing sensitivity to energy consumption and environmental consequences of travel, coupled with rapidly evolving transportation propulsion technologies, it is often difficult to accurately evaluate the environmental consequences of future transportation plans. This research effort will explore the relative modal energy efficiencies of public transit in contrast to auto travel for a variety of technology evolution and deployment assumptions. This work will integrate the latest thinking about auto technology and related energy use and emissions and current thinking regarding future transit vehicle energy use performance and utilization. This knowledge will be of value for planners evaluating future energy and environmental consequences of various long range transportation investment plan options.

As part of this effort the energy budgets of public transit operations will be explored to understand the share of energy use for vehicle propulsion versus other uses and hence, discern opportunities to economize on energy and subsequent environmental/climate impacts of public transportation.


II. Objectives/Tasks

The project objective will be to synthesize the best available data and thinking to provide guidance and insight to enable planners to most correctly analyze future energy and environmental consequences, to understand the uncertainties, and to potentially influence planning by more fully understanding the nature of energy use in the delivery of public transportation. There will be two main benefits of this knowledge. First, the effort will provide a better understanding of the relative performance of the modes with respect to energy/climate impacts in real world operation in the next few decades. Second, the effort will provide a much stronger basis for making estimates of future performance characteristics of the modes to support environmental impact and sustainability assessments. As agencies plan for the future in an environment where rapid technology changes are anticipated, it is important to use the best estimates of the future impacts of the various investment and service options. This will include consideration of investment/vehicle life cycle, prospects for performance modifications over time, and technology adoption scenarios.

This research effort will be integrated with the ongoing work of FDOT, specifically project BDK85 TWO 977-10 at CUTR as well as FDOT sponsored work underway at FSU and TCRP initiatives.

Task 1. Project Management – this task will cover project management at CUTR including producing required research office progress reports and carrying out required deliverable review before submittal to FDOT.

A kickoff meeting shall be scheduled to occur before any work begins. As a minimum, the project manager and the principal investigator will attend. The Research Center staff must be advised of the meeting and given the option to attend. 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 2. Synthesis of Literature – this task will review the most current research and literature regarding comparative energy efficiencies of modes and the predictions for future technology changes. As much work is currently underway by various entities to evaluate measures of carbon and energy impacts, it will seek to integrate the most current work for auto and transit travel such that a set of resources to help support informed estimates of future modal efficiencies can be developed. This will include current thinking regarding propulsion technologies, vehicle sizing, and vehicle fleet transitions over time. This literature review will help insure the project focus is complementary to and not duplicative of other ongoing efforts. In addition, the literature will provide additional supporting resources for future energy and environmental/climate change impact evaluation.

Environmental impacts will focus on point of consumptions energy use and carbon emissions, not other combustion or production/disposal emissions or byproducts.

Task 3. Development of a Database on Comparative Modal Efficiencies – this task will assemble the best available thinking and data regarding the evolution of technologies and propulsion fuels to provide various scenarios of future comparative performance between personal travel and transit travel. We anticipate assembling and synthesizing a variety of scenarios of technology adoption rates and market penetration for both transit and auto technologies and providing the databases so planners can evaluate the consequences of various investments in facilities and services that impact travel mode choice. We anticipate developing a spreadsheet strategy to present the various comparisons. The data bases and methodology will be available for analysts to select and apply various alternative assumptions in their evaluations of the energy and environmental consequences of alternative transportation investments.

A technical report with supporting appendices and attachments, as necessary, will be produced documenting the findings of Task 3.

Task 4. Exploration of Propulsion versus Non-Propulsion Energy Use by Transit Agencies – this task will explore available data and research regarding the non-propulsion use of energy for the provision of public transportation. This will rely on NTD data and other case study or summary materials gathered from transit agencies. This body of information is intended to support two related challenges for transit agencies. First, identifying the relative importance of other energy expenditures required to deliver transit services so planners are able to include and understand this in policy and investment planning, and, second, to help in identifying possible opportunities to reduce energy use by understanding the full range of energy use activities of transit agencies.

A technical report with supporting appendices and attachments as necessary will be produced documenting the findings of Task 4.

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 quarterly progress reports, Draft Final Report and Final Report.

Progress Reports

Progress Reports The University 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.

Reports should be submitted within 30 days of the end of the reporting period. Reports are due even if little or no progress has occurred (in which case, the report should explain delays and/or lack of progress). Progress reports should be sent in MS Word to Sandra Bell, .

Progress reports must include 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, the contractor must 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. Failure to submit progress reports in a timely manner may result in termination of the work order.

Draft Final Reports Each of the two referenced draft final report will be submitted to Sandra Bell, It should 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 reports that address the objectives defined by the scope of service. Draft final reports must be prepared in accordance with the Guidelines for Preparing Draft Final and Final Reports ( This document provides information on all report requirements, including format requirements, the technical report documentation form, disclaimer language, and so forth.

A double sided paper copy of the draft final report will be provided for review by the transit office.

A 30 day review period for the draft final report will be provided for the transit office. The schedule allows 2 weeks for revisions and 2 weeks before the end of the contract for final review and approval.

Final Reports Once the draft final reports have been approved, the university shall prepare the final reports. The university will deliver a minimum eight (8) copies of the final report in MS Word on CD, no later than the end date of the task work order, to

The Florida Department of Transportation Research Center, MS 30 605 Suwannee Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450

Each copy will be provided on a CD or DVD (i.e., for a total of eight disks). An additional two-sided color copy of each final report will be provided to the project manager.

The project manager will review the final report to insure that all issues identified for correction in the draft final report have been addressed.

The Final deliverables shall contain a page after the Technical Report Documentation Form that states the following:

1. The opinions, findings and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the State of Florida Department of Transportation, or the U.S. Department of Transportation. 2. Prepared in cooperation with the State of Florida Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Project Certification The USF Research Financial Management office, as a final deliverable, will submit a project certification in accordance to the university compliance standards.

I.                  V.  Project Schedule

It is anticipated that the project will be completed within 15 months of the written notice to proceed from the Department.

Quarterly progress reports will be provided during the course of the project covering the prior quarter and due within 30 days of the end of the quarter.

Technical reports are due for tasks 3 and 4 at the end of the tenth and fourteenth months respectively of the project. The review periods for those reports will result in the draft reports being provided 60 days prior, at the end of the eighth and twelfth months of the schedule respectively.


V.  Project Budget

        Total Budget    $99,726

VI. Use of Graduate Student(s) and Other Research Assistants

Dr. Steve Polzin will be the principle investigator for the project. Dr. Polzin will direct and participate in all tasks of the research effort and take responsibility for the products. CUTR faculty will include Steve Reich who coordinates CUTR’s Clean Air program. He is expert in vehicle technology change and environmental and climate impacts and will be called on to assemble information on future technologies’ energy and climate characteristics. Dr. Ed Hillsman will support the overall initiative with particular attention on insuring this research is complementary to and leverages existing and ongoing climate change and environmental assessment measurement and evaluation research. Joel Volinski as the NCTR Director, will be involved in product review. Dr. Chu or other CUTR staff will assist with literature review and quantitative comparisons across technologies and modes. Use of engineering graduate student(s) will be critical to this project. These students will support the literature review and data assembly regarding scenarios of future modal efficiencies.

VII. Equipment

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

VIII. Travel

No travel is included in this project.

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: