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FTA proposes that the criteria for evaluation of project justification be organized into two major categories that identify different impacts of projects -- effectiveness and cost effectiveness.  

The division of the criteria into two categories follows the principles of good planning and FTA’s guidance on project evaluation, which has been in use for over 20 years, by recognizing that they address very different aspects of project benefits.  Criteria related to effectiveness addresses how well a project performs without regard to cost, which acknowledges the importance of the magnitude of the project benefits.  Projects with significant benefits, properly normalized so that credit is not simply a function of project size, are notable for what they accomplish.  On the other hand, cost effectiveness addresses the magnitude of project benefits as compared to project costs.  Projects can be very cost effective but have poor effectiveness ratings because their benefits are minimal as are their costs.  Similarly, projects can be very effective but not cost effective because, while their benefits are considerable, their costs are excessive.  Please refer to the NPRM for specific weights.  

2.1.1 Small Starts Effectiveness

FTA proposes effectiveness be comprised of two factors:  1) general mobility, and 2) economic development/land use.  

Worthwhile transit projects produce significant mobility benefits for users of the transportation system.  Improved accessibility derived directly from these mobility benefits, combined with supportive land-use plans and policies, can spur economic develop impacts around transit stations.  A portion of the economic development benefits simply reflect, in land values, the additional accessibility provided by the project.  That benefit is already captured in mobility benefits.  However, to the extent land-use patterns become more concentrated around transit stations than would be the case in the TSM alternative, additional benefits in terms of increased efficiency of the transportation system will result.  FTA is currently studying the magnitude of these additional benefits.  Until research provides a more definitive distribution of benefits, FTA intends to divide the effectiveness rating into two factors: general mobility and economic development/land-use.  Please refer to the NPRM for specific weights of these factors. General Mobility

FTA proposes three measures for general mobility: 1) the average number of weekday riders on the project, 2) the user benefits per passenger mile on the project, and 3) the severity of the current congestion in the project corridor.  


Average weekday ridership - indicates whether the project provides benefits for a large number of people.  All else being equal, projects that benefit more people are better than projects that benefit fewer people.  


User benefits per passenger mile - indicates whether the Small Start is projected to result in significant benefits for the average passenger.  Some projects can result in very large total benefits, but when spread over very large numbers of people, the benefits may not be significant for the user.  This measure seeks to determine whether a passenger is likely

Federal Transit AdministrationPage 12

Guidance on New Starts Policies and ProceduresJuly, 2007

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