Communication and Management Problems Hinder the Planning Process for Major Mass Transit Projects

CED-79-82: Published: Jun 5, 1979. Publicly Released: Jun 5, 1979.

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The Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) awards federal grants to state and local authorities to plan and implement various mass transit projects. Nearly two-thirds of the $8.4 billion in capital grants awarded through fiscal year 1978 by this agency were for the construction, extension, or modernization of intracity rail systems. Federal funding authority for such investments is discretionary, so metropolitan areas must vie for available funds. Due to the potential demand for its funds and concern about its ability to finance these projects, UMTA, since 1974, has required analysis of rail and nonrail alternatives when intracity rail projects are proposed so that a cost-effective option can be selected. This policy was formalized in September 1976.

Even though UMTA had been requiring analysis studies of rail and nonrail alternatives to be made on major projects since 1974, UMTA has not developed guidelines to help project sponsors develop studies acceptable to UMTA. As a result of the lack of guidance and effective communication, project sponsors have conducted studies inconsistent with what UMTA wanted.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The report was issued over 3 years ago, and UMTA has not yet issued written guidance. As of January 1983, UMTA officials could not provide an estimated date of issuance.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should apply the Department of Transportation's (DOT)/UMTA policy on major urban mass transportation investments to all major projects unless specifically exempted by the policy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The report was issued over 3 years ago, and UMTA has not yet issued written guidance. As of January 1983, UMTA officials could not provide an estimated date of issuance.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should make major mass transit investment decisions only after significant deficiences with alternatives analysis studies are corrected.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The report was issued over 3 years ago, and UMTA has not yet issued written guidance. As of January 1983, UMTA officials could not provide an estimated date of issuance.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the UMTA Administrator, in addition to issuing alternatives analysis guidance, to improve communication with all project sponsors by consistently: (1) monitoring progress of studies; (2) providing prompt feedback to project officials; and (3) requiring that all agreements and requirements are documented.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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