Incorporating Sustainability into Transportation Planning and Decision Making: Definitions, Performance Measures, and Evaluation
Jeon, Mihyeon Christy
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An increasing number of agencies have begun to define sustainability for transportation systems and are taking steps to incorporate the concept into the regional transportation planning process. Planning for sustainable transportation systems should at the very least incorporate their broader impacts on system effectiveness, environmental integrity, economic development, and the social quality of life. This study reviews definitions, performance measures, and evaluation methodologies for transportation system sustainability and demonstrates a framework for incorporating sustainability considerations in transportation planning and decision making. Through a case study using data from the Atlanta Metropolitan Region, the study evaluates competing transportation and land use plans based on a broad range of sustainability parameters using relevant spatial and environmental analyses. A multiple criteria decision making (MCDM) method enables the aggregation of individual performance measures into four basic indexes and further into a composite sustainability index based on regional goals and priorities. The value of the indexes lies in their ability to capture the multidimensional nature of sustainability as well as important tradeoffs among the potentially conflicting decision criteria. A decision support tool is proposed to visualize dominance and tradeoffs when evaluating alternatives and to effectively reflect changing regional priorities over time. The proposed framework should help decision makers with incorporating sustainability considerations into transportation planning as well as identifying superior plans for predetermined objectives.