SEGS Research: Transportation


  • Advances in transportation research have focused on performance measures to evaluate outcomes, and using models to aid in project funding decisions and evaluate alternative designs.

  • Publications

  • Agent Based Modeling of Intergovernmental Networks: Harnessing Experimental Simulations for Transportation Policy Informatics.

    Zia, A., Koliba, C.

    2017. Paper presented at the 35th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society

    Agent-based models can be deployed as policy informatics platforms to track resource flows and distributions under differential configurations of inter-governmental networks. This study provides a detailed application of a policy informatics platform in the contested arena of transportation policy implementation networks across federal, the state of Vermont and its regional and local governments. Through this policy informatics platform, three specific questions are addressed: (1) How much weight can be accorded to state versus regional versus local government priorities in funding transportation infrastructure development projects? (2) What are the trade-offs between efficient maintenance of the transportation system versus equitable access to the transportation services? (3) What are the sources of uncertainty in prioritizing transportation infrastructure projects and how is this uncertainty quantified? A Pattern-Oriented, Agent Based Model (ABM) of a transportation governance network, calibrated for the state of Vermont including its regional and local town governments, is presented. This ABM simulates the dynamics of transportation project prioritization processes under alternate intergovernmental institutional rule structures. This study demonstrates a practical and detailed application of a policy informatics platform by showing how experimental simulations may be used to evaluate the design of inter-governmental policy implementation networks and their impacts on policy outcomes.
  • Intergovernmental Dynamics of Transportation Planning: Why Some Towns Attract More Federal Funding Than Others?

    Zia, A., Koliba, C.

    2017. Paper presented at the 35th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society

    This paper explores the dynamics of intergovernmental relations in the distribution of transportation funds from the viewpoint of local governments. We address the following questions: (1) why some towns attract more federal and state funding than other towns? (2) Are there some balancing and reinforcing feedback loops that influence some towns attracting more funds than others? We addressed these research questions through developing a stakeholder informed system dynamic model with an explicit focus on the intergovernmental influence (exogenous) and local town level technical and financial capacity (endogenous) dynamics. The model is calibrated to two local towns in Vermont. The model simulates two balancing loops (BL) and three reinforcing loops (RL). BL1: As a jurisdiction receives more transportation funds, they are able to meet more of their transportation needs and require fewer funds in the short term. BL2: With more development, there is less capacity to continue to build, so less money is allocated for new development. Three RLs include more money received leading towards more experience and thus greater technical capacity, more technical capacity directing a jurisdiction to more support from the MPO, and more transportation needs requires more transportation funds which ultimately gives a jurisdiction more financial capacity.
  • Governance Network Analysis: Experimental Simulations of Alternate Institutional Designs for Intergovernmental Project Prioritization Processes.

    Zia, A., Koliba, C., and Tian, Y.

    2013. In L. Gerrits and P.K. Marks (Eds.), COMPACT I: Public Administration in Complexity. Litchfield Park, AZ: Emergent Publications.

  • The Emergence of Attractors Under Multi-Level Institutional Designs: Agent-based Modeling of Intergovernmental Decision Making for Funding Transportation Projects.

    Zia, A. and Koliba, C.

    2013. Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Society.

    Multi-level institutional designs with distributed power and authority arrangements among federal, state, regional, and local government agencies could lead to the emergence of differential patterns of socioeconomic and infrastructure development pathways in complex social–ecological systems. Both exogenous drivers and endogenous processes in social–ecological systems can lead to changes in the number of ‘‘basins of attraction,’’ changes in the positions of the basins within the state space, and changes in the positions of the thresholds between basins. In an effort to advance the theory and practice of the governance of policy systems, this study addresses a narrower empirical question: how do inter- governmental institutional rules set by federal, state, and regional government agencies generate and sustain basins of attraction in funding infrastructure projects? A pattern- oriented, agent-based model (ABM) of an intergovernmental network has been developed to simulate real-world transportation policy implementation processes across the federal, the state of Vermont, regional, and local governments for prioritizing transportation projects. The ABM simulates baseline and alternative intergovernmental institutional rule structures and assesses their impacts on financial investment flows. The ABM was calibrated with data from multiple focus groups, individual interviews, and analysis of federal, state, and regional scale transportation projects and programs. The results from experimental simulations are presented to test system-wide effects of alternative multi-level institutional designs, in particular different power and authority arrangements between state and regional governments, on the emergence of roadway project prioritization patterns and funding allocations across regions and towns.
  • Adapting Bridge Infrastructure to Climate Change: Institutionalizing Resilience in Intergovernmental Transportation Planning Processes in the Northeastern United States.

    Schulz, A., Zia, A., and Koliba, C.

    2015. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change.

    Open PDF

  • Scale and Intensity of Collaboration as Determinants of Performance Management Gaps in Polycentric Governance Networks: Evidence from a National Survey of MPOs.

    Zia, A., Koliba, C., Meek, J., and Schulz, A.

    2015. Policy & Politics. 43(3): 367-390.

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    MPOs present a unique opportunity as real-world laboratories to investigate the dynamics of scale and performance management in polycentric governance networks. Using a 2009 Government Accountability Office survey of all 381 MPOs, this study examines whether the scale and intensity of collaboration of an MPO influences performance management; and tests two hypotheses: (1) Small-scale MPOs have a significant performance management gap; (2) Larger-scale MPOs with higher scale and intensity of collaboration have a smaller performance management gap. Regression models predict performance management gaps across 15 indicators. Theoretical implications concerning scale and collaboration in polycentric governance networks are discussed.
  • Evaluating the Outcomes Associated with an Innovative Change in a State-Level Transportation Project Prioritization Process: A Case Study of Vermont.

    Novak, D., Koliba, C., Zia, A., and Tucker, D.

    2015. Transport Policy. 42: 130-143.

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    In this paper we examine the outcomes associated with an innovative change in a state-level trans- portation project prioritization process within the United States (U.S.). A foundational component of the innovation is the development and implementation of a novel multi-criteria analysis (MCA) tool to aid decision-makers. The pre and post-MCA project prioritization processes are described in detail for the state of Vermont, and we use a mixed methodological approach to empirically evaluate the outcomes associated with the innovative change with respect to three objectives: (1) to make the project prior- itization process more transparent, (2) to improve the project prioritization process by incorporating well-defined, objective evaluation criteria into the decision-making process, and (3) to reduce inequality in the allocation of transportation project funds between the local jurisdictions. We demonstrate that the innovative change in the project prioritization process was clearly successful in accomplishing objectives 1 and 2, but does not appear to be successful with respect to accomplishing objective 3. The findings are discussed in the context of the state of Vermont, and we offer suggestions for how funding inequality might be addressed in the future.
  • Performance Measurement Considerations in Congestion Management Networks: Evidence from Four Cases.

    Koliba, C., Campbell, E. and Zia, A.

    2011. Public Performance Management Review. 34(4): 520-548.

    The central research question in this article asks how performance management systems are employed in interorganizational governance networks designed to mitigate traffic congestion. Congestion management networks (CMNs) are interesting for adopting performance management systems across regionally bound networks of state, regional, and local actors; and within these networks, performance data are often assumed to be directing policy strategy and tool selection. Drawing on existing frameworks for categorizing performance measures and policy strategies used within congestion management networks, the authors present data from case studies of four regional networks. The CMNs studied here were indelibly shaped by the funded mandates of the USDOT with guidance from the major transportation reauthorization bills since the early 1990s. No uniform performance management system exists in the regional CMSs that were studied. Rather, the CMNs’ performance management systems are a construct of discrete and overlapping performance management systems. Making comparisons more difficult, CMN performance measures are tied to multiple policy domains. Left unanswered are questions relating to the collection and analysis of performance data in terms of administratively and politically driven process dynamics and the extent to which congestion management is ultimately the policy frame that drives action in these networks. Some suggestions are offered that may lead to the answering of these questions through further empirical inquiry and modeling.