By: Laura Schewel on September 8th, 2015

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StreetLight Data, MAP-21, and Performance Measurement

Transportation

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21 to its friends, is a major highway bill from 2012. Several clients have asked us recently how StreetLight Metrics can be used for MAP-21-related goals, so we've collected our thoughts in this blog.

According to the US Federal Highway Administration, "the cornerstone of MAP-21’s highway program transformation is the transition to a performance and outcome-based program. States will invest resources in projects to achieve individual targets that collectively will make progress toward national goals." 

One important note - The FHWA has or is about to create standards for meeting the letter-of-the-law in regards to performance measurement. Following those rules probably won’t require any new data of the sort we discuss here. In this blog, we are talking about forward-thinking performance measures within big-picture themes of MAP-21 and practices that leaders can consider implementing to not just comply with the law, but to improve how well transport systems serve communities, and to reduce costs of managing and monitoring those systems.

Performance measurement is currently hard and very expensive. StreetLight makes it easy and affordable for agencies of all sizes. In addition, by providing accurate, persistent, and nation-wide assessments of what works and doesn't work, StreetLight InSight® Metrics help agencies avoid wasting money on bad programs, and achieve sustainability goals sooner.

In particular, StreetLight is uniquely positioned to provide superior measurement and analytics on the following "Performance Measures" concepts from the bill:

  • Performance of the Interstate System and remainder of the NHS - There are several ways performance can be measured. There's a growing energy in the policy community to move beyond traditional Level-of-Service and speed metrics, and to use new measurements, such as vehicle miles traveled (VMT), trip time, reliability, and accessibility. StreetLight has developed Metrics to measure all these, and has state DOT, MPO, and county end-users utilizing them for several purposes, including performance measurement.

  • Traffic Congestion - Many solutions exist that can measure the existence of travel congestion. StreetLight has developed a unique suite of "congestion busting" Metrics. They automatically analyze the causes of congestion at particular locations. In addition, the Metrics are organized in a way that point to the best Transportation Demand Management solutions to bust the congestion. For example, congestion caused by a high proportion of short trips might be best mitigated with bike lanes. Congestion caused by traffic all sharing the same destination might best be mitigated with a new bus route. StreetLight Metrics help agencies target their limited dollars to the programs most likely to have a big impact.

  • On-road mobile sources of emissions - Emissions are directly related to VMT and speed, which StreetLight measures. StreetLight Metrics can also describe criteria emission sources with a high level of spatial precision, which is useful for understanding the health impact of certain emissions.

  • Freight Movement on the Interstate System - StreetLight's analytics differentiate commercial from personal travel, enabling a useful set of Metrics about Freight in particular, including understanding its contributions to congestion, VMT, and more.

Research, Technology Deployment: In addition to working with individual clients, StreetLight's approach makes it relatively low cost to measure projects anywhere. Thus, StreetLight is developing a library of impact studies, thus being able to identify best practices and provide benchmarks across the country (and the world).