Statewide Transportation Data and Information Systems
benchmark for comparing performance against best practices, identify opportunities for improvement, and guide resource allocation. The measures and indicators must be understandable to government officials, planners, and the public. The information or data provided should be obtained at a reasonable cost and with reasonable effort. Finally, the measures must be reported regularly so that the progress of transportation projects can be continually monitored.
Performance measurement can assume perspectives as rich and diverse as the transportation system itself. Total system performance depends on subsystem performance from such individual modes and programs as transit, highway, inland waterway, rail, airport, and shipping. The system works well when these subsystems and individual components execute well. There are different levels at which the transportation system and subsystems can be measured:
System outcome. System outcome performance is focused on the benefits and costs
accruing to society from a transportation system. Outcomes represent the values that society deems important but are often difficult to measure directly, thereby requiring indicators that can be measured using available output. Outcomes may be positive or negative. For example, a positive outcome of a rail construction project may be the reduction of traffic congestion. A negative outcome may be noise and the localization of air pollution around train stations.
Organization. Organizational performance is the assessment of how well an agency
or entity provides its service. Organizational performance is linked to system performance. If every organization and service provider performs well, the system will work better.
Individual mode or program. Individual mode or program performance is clearly
linked to system outcome performance. Moving from outcome performance to individual mode performance requires a greater need for detailed information. However, the added detail does not detract from the usefulness of each level of performance measurement. Using public transit as an example, it is important to know how many riders are utilizing each route within a transit authority's domain so that line managers are able to allocate resources to meet travel demand. Data collection for such an analysis may require the use of extensive surveys and line-by-line rider counts. Therefore, this degree of detail would be more appropriate at the state rather than regional level, where the cost of collecting such information would not likely be justifiable.
Desired Outcomes of a Performing Transportation System The transportation programs that ultimately deliver services to foster mobility are designed to produce results benefiting society. In getting results that society values, there must be continuing vigilance to avoid unwanted side effects.
Nine transportation system outcomes have been identified; they fall into one of two categories: (a) system effectiveness and efficiency; or (b) system responsibility.
The outcome category of system effectiveness and efficiency focuses on providing reliable and cost-effective mobility and accessibility and on contributing to a strong economy. The outcome category of responsibility focuses on ensuring that those key deliverables are provided without unwanted consequences.