AutoCASE for Transit – coming this fall as stand-alone web application and as an add-in for Autodesk’s Infraworks – will include the latest research on the value of travel time reliability.
The life of a transit project can easily last for decades before construction is even scheduled. Once past the feasibility stage, some plans spend years in the planning phase, and usually years in design. Economists are often involved in transit projects by advising, using cost-benefit analysis, the early go/no go decision. Sometimes, if they behave themselves and prove useful, economists may be asked back to do an assessment of options such as which alignment or type of transit delivers the most value.
The professionals that economists rely on to provide input into their models are the engineers. Engineers have access to all of the project data, the labor and material used, their costs, the schedule, who will benefit and who will be hurt by the project. First in and last out, engineers make thousands of decisions long after the economists have moved on to their next gig. It is this myriad of choices that determine the real value of a project. How stormwater runoff is managed on the transit corridor, whether active transportation is encouraged, how many trees are planted, and which neighborhoods are served determine the sustainability, equity, environmental and public benefits of the project.
AutoCASE for Transit is a standardization of the economic methodology as well as much of the data required to use triple bottom line cost-benefit and risk analysis for transit planning and design decisions. Automating the process means that engineers, rather than economists, can use cost-benefit analysis for all the decisions that influence the project. By giving those who best understand the project and access to the most data is more efficient, cheaper, and will result in better decisions.
Advances in measuring the intangible costs and benefits of transportation are being made but economic cost-benefit models used to analyze transportation infrastructure projects have not kept up. By contrast, AutoCASE for Transit includes all major transit benefit categories that are quantifiable and supported by recent literature. There are several new benefit categories that existing transportation cost-benefit models have not included. One example is the benefit of travel time reliability. AutoCASE for Transit incorporates 30 studies of reliability and synthesizes them into a reliability ratio that can be used in transit cost benefit analysis. By interpreting and standardizing reliability research the AutoCASE for Transit with Autodesk’s Infraworks will make cutting edge transportation research available to engineering and planning professionals making planning and design decisions inside their planning and design tools.
I’ll post more on how we are measuring and monetizing reliability in coming weeks.