July 30, 1989
Chris Brittle and Christine Monsen
101 8th Street
Oakland, California 94607
Re: TCM Evaluation Criteria
The criteria you published are an excellent beginning. Apparently, everything we need is contained within them. A few suggestions:
The environmental analysis is "leading edge", and should not be diminished. Even if some of the issues aren't addressed by legislation at the moment, (a) they should be; (b) no rational person can afford to ignore them; and (c) MTC's (anti-environmental) image would be enhanced by such a frank acknowledgement of the very serious problems facing everyone on the planet.
Under Transportation, "increase average vehicle speeds", "reduce annual vehicle hours of delay", and "reduce annual hours of delay" are all at best irrelevant, and at worst, backwards. Our goal is not to speed up vehicles, but to speed up the transport of people and goods. The proper measure would not be vehicle speed, but people x miles / hours (or in the case of goods, weight x miles / hours). "Does it increase average vehicle speeds?" should be dropped.
Likewise, we don't care about vehicle delay, because our goal is not the transport of vehicles from one point to another. Reducing vehicle trips and VMT will automatically reduce congestion and delay; however, simply reducing congestion, by expanding the highway system and widening roads, will induce growth in trips and VMT, increasing air pollution. This fact is intuitively obvious, and is also supported by research. "Does it reduce annual vehicle hours of delay?" and "Does it reduce annual hours of delay?" should be dropped, as there is no evidence that reducing delay alone can reduce emissions; on the contrary, the research shows that that increases emissions. Similarly, "delay reduction" under Cost-effective? should be dropped.
All criteria would be clarified by specification of a particular formula. These could be created by putting all the things we want to increase in the numerator (e.g. people x miles), and all the things we want to minimize (e.g. time x cost x emissions) in the denominator.
"Is the measure more effective when combined with other measures?" should perhaps be stated, "Is the measure synergistically more effective when combined with other measures?" Can you give an example? If you are referring to "congestion relief", this does not apply. For example, congestion relief (through highway capacity expansion) and demand reduction work against each other: the first induces trip and VMT growth, while the latter attempts to reduce them.
I understand that there are many who, for political or personal reasons, are still insisting that the Earth is flat (that roadway expansion reduces air pollution) and that the sun revolves around the Earth (that added HOV lanes are good for air quality). However, such myths crumble under the slightest scrutiny.
Michael J. ("Galileo") Vandeman, Ph.D.