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M4-1 Report Abstract

The Decision Process for Implementing Fixed-Guideway Systems

Mark A. Euritt, M. Allen Hoffman and C. Michael Walton, University of Texas at Austin, August 1994, 108 pp.(M4-1)

During the last two decades, a number of cities have developed or considered fixed-guideway systems. Because the actions of eight metropolitan areas have been involved in the fixed-guideway evaluation process, a conceptual decision model could be based on their experiences. The decision process for four of the areas–Portland, San Diego, Sacramento, and Santa Clara County–resulted in the construction of light-rail transit systems; two of the cities–Houston and Los Angeles–opted for a system of transitways, and two cities–Milwaukee and Columbus–chose not to develop a fixed-guideway system. The decision process for a fixed-guideway system is a complex interaction of various issues and actors. The principal issues affecting fixed-guideway decision making are social, systemic, and funding. Social issues are external factors such as economic development, land use impacts, and energy issues. Systemic issues, which are the technical criteria used in alternatives analysis or comparable studies, include capital and operating costs and ridership estimates. Funding issues pertain to the availability of financial resources and their impact on decision making. Actors are categorized as the public (persons or groups designed to evaluate fixed-guideway alternatives), and institutions (federal and state funding agencies and various state transportation departments and commissions). The case study analysis indicates that technical criteria are not critical factors in fixed-guideway decision making. Instead, the decision process is dominated by political interaction among local, state, and federal officials guided by social benefits, actual or perceived, and systemic issued that influence funding for transit alternatives.

Keywords: Fixed-Guideway Systems, Evaluation Process, Metropolitan Areas, Light-Rail Transit Systems, Social Issues, Land Use Impacts, Energy, Systemic Issues, Ridership Estiamtes, Funding Issues, Costs, Resources, Benefits, Political Interaction, Decision Making, Transit Alternatives

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Reference Report #M4-1