Comparing the Performance of Urban Transit Bus Routes after Adjusting for the Environment, Using Data Envelopment Analysis GCP-08-05

Darold T. Barnum, Sonali Tandon, & Sue McNeil

The views expressed in this report represent those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Great Cities Institute or the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Urban transit managers strive to attain multiple goals with tightly constrained resources. Ratio analysis has evolved into a powerful tool for dealing with these goals and constraints. Ratio analysis provides analytical methods for comparing the performance of multiple agencies, as well as the performance of subunits within a particular agency, in order to identify opportunities for improvement. One ratio analysis procedure that has become increasingly popular is Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA). DEA yields a single, comprehensive measure of performance, the ratio of the aggregated, weighted outputs to aggregated, weighted inputs. This paper makes two contributions to the practice of urban transit performance evaluation using DEA. First, instead of using DEA to compare the performance of multiple transit systems, it uses DEA to compare the performance of multiple bus routes of one urban transit system. Second, it introduces a new procedure for adjusting the raw DEA scores that modifies these scores to account for the environmental influences that are beyond the control of the transit agency.

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