Transportation in the New Millennium
4. Data quality. Expert programs must be pursued aggressively. But these programs have been slow in developing. The amount of data generated is increasing geometrically, and the quality of the data is suspect. It is essential that data be “tagged” with information showing the source (e.g., the equipment or the collection team), the statistical level of confidence, and the availability of archival data. Data quality has great potential as a new training program in engineering schools.
5. Modeling and traffic simulation. A clearinghouse should be established for data used for statewide and regional planning efforts such as statewide traffic models. Interjurisdictional data currently is difficult to obtain and compare. A national database could solve this problem. The database could contain such attributes as volume data, vehicle classification data, origin-destination data, and employment data. The tool-kit approach is better than the one-size-fits-all approach represented by FHWA’s decision to promote the new model TRANSIM, which may or may not be a good tool for demand modeling.
Kentucky concludes that with leadership from key states and case studies showing how data collection and management have saved large sums of money, it will be possible to implement forward-looking ideas. The political barriers are more severe than the technological barriers.
CALIFORNIA’S EFFORT TO MEASURE SYSTEM PERFORMANCE California, along with several other states, has undertaken an effort to develop transportation system performance measures that will provide a systematic approach to planning and decision making. Transportation policy makers recognize the need to consider improved system management options before more costly capital expansion projects are developed. However, decision makers are hampered by a lack of tools designed for system analysis. The 1998 Updated California Transportation Plan addressed this handicap by affirming the system approach and calling for performance assessment at the total system level (2).
California State Senate Bill 45 of 1997 split authority between the state and municipalities with regard to transportation improvement program funding. But the bill also made it possible for the regions and the state to suggest projects to be funded at either level of decision making. In effect, California can recommend projects at the regional level, and the regions, in turn, can recommend projects for state funding. The process requires a consistent method for comparing projects and programs. System performance measures provide some of the tools for making these comparisons.
The question remains as to what system performance measurement will do. Performance measurement is a standard management function that will enable managers and other stakeholders to determine if their goals and objectives are being met. A sound performance measurement framework involves three key components:
A clear direction or purpose, often enunciated as a vision;
A simple set of metrics based on readily obtainable data; and
Routine, readable reports.
The purpose of performance measures and indicators is to show where a project stands and what the next step should be. Performance measures and indicators provide a