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Center Identification Number:  77604       

 

Project Title:  The National Smart Transportation Archive Researcher (NSTAR) Program   

 

Co-Principal Investigators:        

Nevine Georggi, Research Associate
Phone: (813) 974-9770
E-mail: georggi@cutr.usf.edu

Sara Hendricks, Senior Research Associate
Phone: (813) 974-9801
E-Mail: hendricks@cutr.usf.edu

Sean Barbeau, Visiting Research Associate
Phone: (813) 974-1343
Email: barbeau@cutr.usf.edu

Institution:                             

 

Center for Urban Transportation Research

University of South Florida

Fax: 813-974-5168

 

External Project Contact:     

 

Michael Wright

Public Transportation Office / Transit Planning

850-414-4529

E-Mail: michael.wright1@dot.state.fl.us

 

 

I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

Develop and maintain National Smart Transportation Archive Researcher (NSTAR) database. The database is intended to increase the adoption of demand management strategies by employers and localities through providing employers with useful data on successful TDM programs at other similar employment sites. The adoption of such programs will increase benefits to businesses, commuters, and communities resulting from reductions in traffic congestion, emissions, and dependence on foreign oil.

  

II. Project Abstract

At the 2004 TRB meeting, the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) identified five key long-term goals. At the top of the list was the collection of data and case studies reflecting the effectiveness of TDM strategies and providing a source of reference to practitioners to solve transportation problems including mode shifts towards transit, vanpool, carpool, biking and other commute alternatives.

Currently, the Florida Department of Transportation has been working with the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) and Urbantrans (a Colorado based consulting firm) to develop a similar resource for the state of Florida. The Florida Smart Transportation Archive Researcher (FSTAR) is an online, searchable database of TDM case studies – an easy-to-use, web-based resource tool allowing users to search for Florida-specific TDM case studies through a variety of search criteria.

The format for case studies may include:
    • Types of TDM programs and services provided
    • Employer name
    • Employer location
    • Employer size
    • Employee work schedules (traditional or shift-type)
    • Employer sector (non-profit, private or public)
    • Information regarding any TDM program and services results
    • Awards and/or honors received by the employer
    • Participation in activities such as Best Work Places for Commuters, local TMA etc.
    • Funding sources (and budget if applicable)
    • Enabling local conditions such as trip reduction ordinances (TROs).
    • A rating of case study reliability and completeness based upon data verification, presence of contacts and other factors.

These case studies provide sample models for inference by TDM practitioners who over time have been constantly searching for proven strategies. This is especially evidenced by the large amount of requests for various case studies received on the NCTR National TDM and Telework Clearinghouse listserv hosted by CUTR.

This proposal is timely since, 1) it complements an existing Florida initiative by expanding the scope to a national level, 2) meets an identified top priority of TDM practitioners, and 3) takes advantage of the existing infrastructure at CUTR and FSTAR to attract and host a national initiative.

III.  Objectives/Tasks

The proposed scope of services for this project consists of the following tasks.

Task 1: Review of FSTAR System Design and Literature review

1.1 Obtain copy of the existing Florida Smart Transportation Archive Researcher (FSTAR) system from the Association for Commuter Transportation’s contractor, UrbanTrans and review its design. Staff will research advantages/disadvantages of different systems and whether to purchase a server to have on-site or have the server hosted remotely through a dedicated server plan. Options include retaining the system design by UrbanTrans or revising it. Considerations include an option to design the NSTAR as an application that can be added to web sites of targeted groups. This could be in the form of a text link that is embedded into highly targeted websites and appear on search engines as sponsors. In other words, instead of targeted groups needing to know about the NSTAR before they can search for it, the NSTAR would appear as a box on the web sites of selected organizations, such as that for the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) and sites of other organizations whose members would be interested in this information. Another consideration is the possibility of creating separate graphical user interfaces (GUI) for different groups. For example, a GUI for employers might need to be different from that for TDM professionals. Another consideration is to organize, store, present and filter the data, based upon a tracking of how people use a search string. Staff would examine the Google model and other user-friendly web sites to identify general search principles. This would inform how to craft a database design that maximizes functionality. If staff chooses to retain the existing design, UrbanTrans may need to be retained to convert their database which is currently on a LINUX-based system to a SQL server application.

    1.2 Create a peer review panel to advise the research team working on NSTAR, with invited peers including representatives from ACT, APTA and an end user of the database, such as a TDM practitioner.
    1.3 Conduct literature review of existing TDM and transit case studies and the designs used in other transportation-related case study databases.
    1.4 Identify existing data sources such as State of Washington’s Commute Trip Reduction database and EPA’s Best Workplaces for Commuters™.

Task 2: Case Study Database System Design

The quality of case studies is highly variable. Many of the current TDM case studies are anecdotal in nature. While such case studies are illustrative of the possibilities that can be achieved, they often lack a comprehensive view of the program, including the context of implementation. Usually the case study also examines only one clearly defined time period. Thus, the case studies have limited ability to be generally applied.

We will use the following definition used by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) for a case study to help guide the ultimate system design and determine what case studies will be included in “Best Practices” report (Task 4): “A case study is a method for learning about a complex instance, based on a comprehensive understanding of that instance obtained by extensive description and analysis of that instance take as a whole and in its context.” However, a tiered approach for “case studies” may be pursued (e.g., Level 1 “anecdotal” to Level 5 “comprehensive”)

    2.1 Create criteria for assessing the tiered system.
    2.2 Classify case studies identified in Task 1 against various performance criteria such as impacts on transportation system and benefits/costs accrued by the worksite (if available).
    2.3 Prepare tech memorandum with recommendations for system design for peer panel review and comment.

Deliverable: Technical Memorandum 1 – Literature and Case Study Review and System Design

Task 3: Database Development and Data Collection

Depending on the system design specifications, the team will either need to modify an existing database and/or create a new design. The database will be web based.

    3.1 Review and respond to peer review comments and suggestions.
    3.2 Develop database system to:
        3.2.1 Permit users to select case studies and retrieve data in a variety of formats.
        3.2.2 Provide a secure means for case study submittals and updates by TDM practitioners and employers.
    3.3 Develop graphical user interface to access the data. This must be informed by the interests and business vocabulary of the users. In other words, the GUI must “speak the same language” and accurately anticipate the desired information of the user groups.
    3.4 Develop a reporting function to track usage and obtain feedback from users.
    3.5 Enter data from existing sources identified in Task 1 into the database.
    3.6 Actively recruit case study examples through TMAs, CAPs. Seek the assistance of ACT to support the NCTR database by identifying experienced TDM professionals to develop case studies in other cities.
    3.7 Prepare database user guide and system documentation.
    3.8 Pilot test database, review feedback and modify as necessary.

Deliverable: Technical Memorandum 2 — Database User Guide and System Documentation

Task 4: Develop Best Practices Report and Technology Transfer

The final task will be to develop a Best Practices Guide, CUTR will:
    4.1 Conduct extensive interviews with up to 12 employers to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of a given program and an analysis of that program “taken as a whole and in its context.” Conduct site visits to up to four cities.
    4.2 Prepare final report.
    4.3 Prepare a netconference with up to 50 locations on the result of this approach to highlight these employers and promote NSTAR.
    4.4 Present the findings at conferences such as TRB, ACT and/or APTA.

Deliverables: Best Practices Final Report, Streaming media presentation, and website.

IV. Deliverables

There will be three deliverables for this project. Technical Memorandum 1 – Literature and Case Study Review and System Design will be submitted at the completion of Task 2. Technical Memorandum 2 – Database User Guide and System Documentation will be submitted at the completion of Task 3. Final deliverables will include a streaming media presentation, a website, and the Best Practices Final Report, in both draft and final forms. Once approved by the FDOT Project Manager and the Research Office, 12 copies of the Final Report, an electronic version, and an electronic version of the project summary will be submitted to the Research Office.

 

V.  Project Schedule

 

 

Month
Task Description

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

 

8

 

9

 

10

 

11

 

12

 

13

 

14

 

15

 

Task 1

 

Review of FSTAR System Design and Literature Review

x

x

x

x

x

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Task 2

Case Study Database System Design

 

 

 

x

x

x

x

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technical

Memorandum #1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Task 3

Database Development and Data Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

x

x

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technical Memorandum #2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

 

 

 

 

Task 4

Develop Best Practices Report and Technology Transfer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

x

x

x

 

Best Practices Final Report, website and streaming media presentation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

 

VI.  Project Budget

The National Smart Transportation Archive Researcher (NSTAR) Program

Budget Categories

State

Center Director Salary

 

Faculty Salaries

$ 37,371

Admin. Staff Salaries

$   2,212

Other Staff Salaries

 

Student Salaries

$ 15,293

Staff Benefits

$ 20,918

Total Salaries and Benefits

$ 75,794

Scholarships

$   3,628

Permanent Equipment

$   2,120

Expendable Property/Supplies

$   4,359

Domestic Travel

$      300

Foreign Travel

 

Other Direct Costs

$ 23,323

Total Direct Costs

$109,524

Indirect Costs

$   5,476

Total Costs

$115,000

 

Notes: This budget does not reflect any federal participation. The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above. Budget requests includes salaries for clerical and administrative staff, postage, telephone calls, office supplies, general purpose software, subscriptions, and/or memberships.

 

VII. Equipment

It is possible that a decision will be made to purchase a server to have on-site.

VIII. Implementation

This research project is intended to result in a user-friendly searchable on-line database for the transit industry and for TDM professionals in particular. As such, an implementation plan is not necessary.

IX. Student Involvement

Graduate students may provide assistance with the literature review, database and graphical user interface design, data collection, qualitative and quantitative analyses, and/or report writing.

X. Relationship to Other Research Projects

This project extends the original FSTAR project for Florida into an archive of case studies nationwide. It will encompass previous data collection efforts by Tucson, Los Angeles and the Puget Sound region of Washington State as well as case studies collected by other organizations, such as the Association for Commuter Transportation.

XI. Technology Transfer Activities/Peer Review

The results of this analysis will be provided to the FDOT through a series of technical memoranda and a final report, as outlined above. Copies of the final report will be provided to the Research Office, the State Public Transportation Administrator, the Manager of the Transit Office, and those organizations that significantly contributed with data from multiple sites. Information will also be made available through the CUTR and NCTR websites and presentations at state and national conferences.

XII. Potential Benefits of the Project

The potential benefits of the project include the increased adoption of and expansion to demand management strategies by employers and localities. It can save transportation professionals significant time and resources in locating examples to help guide program design. The adoption of such programs will increase benefits to businesses, commuters, and communities resulting from reductions in traffic congestion, emissions, and dependence on foreign oil. The project will also benefit TDM groups to help define the role and explain the impact of TDM strategies to both local and national policy makers.

XIII. TRB Keywords

Transportation demand management, transit, qualitative analysis, TDM performance

 

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 · www.nctr.usf.edu · Comments: webmaster@cutr.eng.usf.edu