OnTrackNorthAmerica is building the next generation of transportation lifecycle cost and benefit measurement tools. The purpose of this project is to develop clear, functional measures for future planning and investing in transportation infrastructure. The extended lifetime and profound societal impacts of transportation projects now compel us to fully consider their economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Achieving value, rather than just increasing budgets, requires metrics so that baselines and targets can be set and action plans can be implemented.

Project Leader

Michael Sussman
Chairman, OnTrackNorthAmerica

Corporate Co-Leader

Barry Einsig
Global Transportation Executive,
Cisco Systems, Inc.

Project Advisors

Dr. Mingzhou Jin
Associate Head, Industrial and Systems Engineering
University of Tennessee

Dr. Pasi Lautala
Director, Rail Transportation Program, Michigan Tech Transportation Institute

Principal Investigator

Mike Koontz
Transportation Planner, former Director
USDOT’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program

As our Project Advisor Dr. Jin relates in his support letter, there is a yawning gap between the volumes of thoughtful research and its pragmatic application in the field. This project bridges that gap. It provides the framework for applying the fine work of researchers that study transportation costs, benefits, and performance measures.

Research alone is not enough… The metrics have to be embraced by a large swath of stakeholders. More than new research… this project forges new ground in convening national dialogues that matter. You are invited to contribute.

Read the Evolving Lifecycle Costs and Benefits List

As this list grows and evolves it will be updated regularly.

Infrastructure Construction Costs

Capital costs of building transportation infrastructure.

Labor.  Labor costs of construction.

Materials. Material costs of construction, not including land acquisition.

Existing rights-of-way. The availability of existing or legacy rights of way for building new transportation infrastructure.

Right-of-way. The costs of both land and rights-of-way needed for new transportation infrastructure.

Operating Costs

Operating costs for the use of and maintenance of transportation infrastructure.

Energy. Cost of fuel or energy used to transport goods and people (diesel, gasoline, electricity, natural gas, etc).

Maintenance. Cost of maintenance required to keep freight and passenger transportation viable and safe.

Transport Equipment. The cost of acquisition of trucks, locomotives, containers, rail cars, etc.

Useful Life of Transport Equipment. Estimated life of transportation equipment.

Environmental Costs

Environmental footprint of transportation system, including metrics for air quality, climate change, water quality, noise, light pollution, etc.

Environmental Metrics. Include GHG emissions, fossil-fuel consumption, air, water, noise, and light pollution.

Criteria Pollutants.  A set of air pollutants that cause smog, acid rain, and other health hazards.

Greenhouse Gases. Emissions from the operation and maintenance of transport infrastructure that contribute to global warming.

Fossil-fuel Consumption. Fossil fuel used for the construction, operations and maintenance of transportation systems.

Noise. The impact of noise on quality of life for areas abutting infrastructure including engine, rolling stock, aerodynamics, etc.

Water Quality. Impact of vehicle and fuel contamination on adjacent wildlife and natural environment.

Light Pollution. Impact of light for transportation on a community or on wildlife and the natural environment.

Land Use Costs

Capturing the spatial impacts of moving goods and people.

Land Used for Transport. Track space or lane-miles required to move a given tonnage or passenger volume. This is land devoted to track or pavement, not the entire amount of land needed for right-of-way.

Land use and spatial efficiency. New concept including future highway lane mileage requirements vs. rail.
How do we capture the spatial (congestion) impact of freight and passengers moving on various modes?

Social Costs

Social costs affecting people’s quality of life.

Safety. Need to develop common measures among modes-perhaps injuries per ton-mile and passenger mile for instance.

Safety to the transportation providers. Injuries per 200,000 man hours. NOTE-FRA has a number of measures for injuries.

Safety to the community-toxic releases. Non accidental releases-NARS.

Fatalities and injuries per ton-mile of freight.

Environmental Injustice. Difference in impact of highway and rail and other modes on communities when sorted by economic status.

Travel Congestion. Both non-recurring which are delays caused by accidents, and recurring travel congestion which is the effect of lost time due to congestion or capacity limits.

Economic Benefits

Transportation infrastructure’s contribution to economic vitality.

Freight

  • Overall capacity and speed of freight system (Mobility)
  • Connectivity and circuitry
    • Connectivity and accessibility
      • Can you ship somehow
      • Can you ship easily, such as a single contact and intermodal collaboration providing door-to-door service
    • Circuitry
      • Options, redundancy, resiliency
  • Reliability
    • Achieving expected delivery window
    • How narrow a delivery window can be promised and met
    • Damage and security reliability
    • Ability to track and verify status
  • Efficient geographic marketplace access for shippers
  • Shipping costs as an economic impact to the economy
    • Focus on a set of key cost metrics for shipping finished goods and raw materials
  • Service to other key industrial systems:
    • Energy production and distribution
    • Agriculture
    • Natural Resources
    • Manufacturing
    • Warehousing and Distribution
  • Local and Regional Development. Multiplier effect of transport infrastructure construction on area economic development.
  • Short-Term Economic Impact. Local economic impact from job creation and other benefits due to construction of transport infrastructure.
  • Property Tax Impact. Added or lost property tax due to transport construction.
  • Financial strength of transportation providers

Project Outline


PHASE 1: Convening and consensus


  • Prepare a draft list of costs and benefits to seed the large group engagement [complete]
  • Prepare and submit project grant proposals for foundation funding
  • Convene stakeholders in facilitated process to complete and agree on a comprehensive list of costs and benefits metrics

PHASE 2: Data Assessment


  • Develop and document methods of calculating agreed metrics
  • Identify data required for the calculation methods
  • Investigate available data sources
  • Pinpoint the metrics where data is missing or not maintained
  • Determine proxy measures for approximating missing data in lieu of primary research
  • Determine the data that is ongoingly tracked by others versus the data that will need to be measured by us or others in future years

PHASE 3: DataSet Building


  • OTNA or affiliated entities conduct primary research for those metrics data that have not been pinpointed and can not be approximated effectively
  • Establish resources and methods for data formatting, alignment, and housing of data from the variety of providers
  • Establish the relations and the process for collaborating entities to provide their data ongoingly into our dataset
  • Establish resources and methods for data publication and dissemination
  • Develop the guidance on how to evaluate and analyze transportation systems with the developed metrics and dataset
  • Build in-house capability or a collaborative relationship for building the data and systems analysis tool/software application
+ Convening and Consensus

PHASE 1: Convening and consensus


  • Prepare a draft list of costs and benefits to seed the large group engagement [complete]
  • Prepare and submit project grant proposals for foundation funding
  • Convene stakeholders in facilitated process to complete and agree on a comprehensive list of costs and benefits metrics
+ Data Assessment

PHASE 2: Data Assessment


  • Develop and document methods of calculating agreed metrics
  • Identify data required for the calculation methods
  • Investigate available data sources
  • Pinpoint the metrics where data is missing or not maintained
  • Determine proxy measures for approximating missing data in lieu of primary research
  • Determine the data that is ongoingly tracked by others versus the data that will need to be measured by us or others in future years
+ DataSet Building

PHASE 3: DataSet Building


  • OTNA or affiliated entities conduct primary research for those metrics data that have not been pinpointed and can not be approximated effectively
  • Establish resources and methods for data formatting, alignment, and housing of data from the variety of providers
  • Establish the relations and the process for collaborating entities to provide their data ongoingly into our dataset
  • Establish resources and methods for data publication and dissemination
  • Develop the guidance on how to evaluate and analyze transportation systems with the developed metrics and dataset
  • Build in-house capability or a collaborative relationship for building the data and systems analysis tool/software application

Relevant Papers by Dr. Mingzhou Jin, Project Advisor


Wang and M. Jin, “Transportation Performance Measurement System with a Case Study in Mississippi,” The Journal of the Transportation Research Forum, 45 (3), pp. 19-37, 2006. You can find the full text at https://collaboration.fhwa.dot.gov/dot/fhwa/pm/Lists/aReferences/DispForm.aspx?ID=79 or http://journals.oregondigital.org/trforum/article/view/606/511

P. Kelle and M. Jin, “Development of Performance Measurement for Freight Transportation,” Final Report 522, NCITEC and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, 2014. You can access it at https://www.ltrc.lsu.edu/pdf/2014/fr_522.pdf

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