Expanding the multiple accounts evaluation methodology to better assess rapid transit technologies : the UBC Line case study To, Iona
Conducting a comprehensive evaluation of large-scale projects and programs such as a rapid transit development project is no small feat. The success of such programs can be influenced by a multitude of factors, such as existing local government policies, regional development trends, and the economic health of local communities. In turn, the implementation of such projects can have a wide range of environmental, social, and economic effects. Furthermore, these effects can change over time. The Multiple Accounts Evaluation (MAE) framework, which was first developed by the Provincial Government of BC, allows these influential factors and effects to be systematically evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively. The purpose is to present different perspectives of a given project and its alternatives, and help inform public policy debates. Past studies that have applied the MAE approach to rapid transit projects, however, have excluded many of the more-difficult-to-measure, yet essential indirect and non-market factors. This study, therefore, sets out to develop a more comprehensive MAE framework to better assess the environmental, social, and economic effects of rapid transit technologies. Through an extensive review of the relevant literature, this study identifies the appropriate indicators to add to the MAE structure and develops techniques to measure them. In addition, this study explores this newly expanded framework in a real-life situation by applying it to two of the rapid transit technologies being proposed for the UBC Line in Metro Vancouver. The findings of this study illustrate that some indirect and nonmarket effects such as accessibility and susceptibility to crime cannot be easily quantified. Nonetheless, there is a variety of qualitative indicators that can be used in place of quantitative metrics. Secondly, this study shows that data gaps do currently exist, and therefore at the present time some of the new indicators cannot be measured to the level of precision required for planning purposes. There are, however, steps that can be taken to address these gaps, such as conducting more field surveys and requiring better record keeping of resources consumed by a project. In addition, there are several areas that require further study and actions that could be taken to conduct a more accurate MAE and improve the decision-making process. It is also argued that the MAE approach could be used more consistently in the future within the Province of BC and perhaps across Canada. In doing so, our natural and financial resources would be used more efficiently and sustainably, and unintended negative consequences of such large-scale projects would be minimized.
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