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to have a noticeably better service after the project in implemented.  “User benefits” is defined to include all changes in mobility that are measured by local ridership-forecasting methods and define the scope of those benefits to include both existing and new transit riders compared to the baseline alternative.  (The definition also includes benefits to users of the highway system but measurement of those benefits is not yet available due to the current state of the practice for predicting changes in highway speeds.)  Consequently, the user-benefits measure credits transit projects with reductions in transit travel times (including time spent walking, waiting, transferring, and riding in transit vehicles), any other service characteristics (such as the number of transfers) included in local forecasting methods, and the availability of multiple competitive travel options, again as represented by local forecasting methods.  The user-benefits measure also captures credit for other project characteristics that improve the quality of transit service including changes in reliability, span of service, safety and security, passenger stations, passenger information, permanence of the facilities, and other characteristics not represented by travel times and costs, which are represented by the mode specific constants included in the travel model.  


Current congestion - is meant to serve as a proxy for the benefits to users of the highway system that result from the project.  Current travel forecasting models do not provide accurate forecasts for changes in highway speeds, hence measurement of the benefits to users of the highway system resulting from implementation of the transit project is not yet available.  Therefore, FTA seeks to determine the extent of current congestion in the project corridor under the assumption that corridors with significant congestion are more likely to experience congestion relief benefits from the proposed project than corridors without much current congestion.  The measures used to determine current congestion will include: the percent deviation in peak period average speeds vs. free flow speeds for private vehicles and buses, person hours of delay in the corridor, the level of service for highways and major arterials that serve the project corridor, and the ratio of daily vehicle miles to lane miles. Economic Development / Land Use

FTA proposes that the economic development/land use rating be based on five measures: 1) the extent to which the station area can be further developed, 2) the extent to which plans and policies encourage transit-oriented development, 3) local economic conditions, 4) increased accessibility of the project, and 5) the permanence of the project.  

Economic development impacts of transportation investments reflect the increased accessibility provided by the project to the surrounding area.  If an area becomes more accessible compared to other areas, residents and businesses will be willing to pay more to locate there and property values will increase.  If land use regulations allow for more development and the general economic environment is favorable to additional development, investment will flow to the project corridor.  Due to the difficulty of distinguishing economic development impacts from the previous land-use measure and the role of land-use plans and policies in promoting economic development, FTA will combine into a single criterion the land-use and economic development rating.  

Federal Transit AdministrationPage 13

Guidance on New Starts Policies and ProceduresJuly, 2007

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