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Measuring Improvements in the Movement of Highway and Intermodal Freight

REPORT: Workshop on Productivity Performance Indicators: Report of Proceedings.

SPONSORS: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

AUTHORS: Hickling Lewis Brod, Inc.

PARTICIPANTS: Various economists and policy analysts from FHWA, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), the Volpe Transportation Center, the Congressional Budget Office, freight/logistics companies, and consulting firms.

DATE: May 15, 1998

SUMMARY:

This report summarizes proceedings of a workshop sponsored by the FHWA Office of Policy Development on March 12, 1998 to review and suggest appropriate indicators for the “productivity” element of the agency’s Performance Plan. An advisory panel identified 21 potential productivity indicators and ranked these based on conceptual suitability, measurability, and communicative value of the proposed indicators.

PERFORMANCE MEASURES PRESENTED:

The top ten indicators in terms of overall merit as judged by the panel members (and ranking, in scale 1-4) were:

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cost of highway freight per ton-mile (3.9)

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hours of delay per 1000 vehicles processed at border crossings (3.4)

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ratio of variance to average minutes per trip in peak periods in major metro areas (3.3)

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hours of delay per 1000 vehicle-miles (3.1)

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hours spent waiting at toll plazas per 1000 vehicle-miles (2.9)

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hours spent waiting at weigh stations per 1000 ton-mile (2.9)

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contribution of investment to GDP growth (2.6)

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net present value of improvements (2.4)

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average minutes per trip in peak period in major metro areas (2.3)

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total public and private costs of travel (2.3)

Based on the judgement of the consultants, the report recommends six indicators as meriting further investigation as candidates for inclusion in FHWA’s Performance Plan:

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cost of highway freight per ton-mile

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contribution of investment in highways to GDP growth

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net present value (or current year benefit-cost ratio) of highway improvements

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average minutes per trip in peak period in major metro areas

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