Last week at the Ann Niles Transportation Lecture, Los Angeles Transportation Director Seleta Reynolds said the overwhelming majority of her job is good management, not the clever policymaking that everybody usually wants to talk about.
Here at BikePortland, we’re guilty of talking a lot about clever (or not so clever) policymaking. But this year, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is also going through some operational changes that are worth knowing about.
Under Director Leah Treat, PBOT is working to be more precise and public about the status of its many projects. And a new tool on its website looks a lot like a gimmick but is actually a pretty good new way to keep track of everything the city is up to.
The tool is called the Portland Progress Dashboard. You can see a screenshot above.
By themselves, these dials are not very useful. But there’s a lot going on behind this scene.
To learn more, I clicked on a dial that’s close to my heart: “Build a future where we can all grow and thrive.” It leads to a page explaining the little goals that have been grouped into this big goal:
Still not very specific. But click on one of those subject areas and you get something much more useful:
Connect Portlanders to Economic Opportunities
B3.1 Transitioning Arterials to PBOT – Status: 1
Identify pre-requisites for PBOT to accept jurisdiction and responsibility for state highways and transition to urban arterials. Include estimated capital costs to bring up to City Standard and ongoing maintenance costs. Based on findings, prioritize list of transfers. Work with ODOT and State Legislature to identify funding to upgrade facilities prior to transfer.
B3.2 Greenways Wayfinding – Status: 2
Implement enhanced wayfinding and communication to increase the usefulness of neighborhood greenway connectors in improving access to nearby business districts. Explore smart phone app marketed to residents and visitors to assist in wayfinding. Build partnerships with small businesses to shape and implement.
B3.3 High Capacity Transit – Status: 3
Continue active participation and collaboration with Metro and TriMet to implement High Capacity Transit service along key corridors, including current Bus Rapid Transit project on Powell-Division.
B3.4 Access to Frequent Transit – Status: 3
Collaborate with TriMet to coordinate targeted PBOT street improvements with desired increases to bus frequency in order to make it safer and easier for more Portlanders to access frequent transit. Develop agreedupon investment plans along two routes.
B3.5 Complete the Loop – Status: 2
In 2015, complete the loop system for Portland Streetcar to support innercity short transit trips and encourage and support redevelopment and land use goals.
B3.6 Add 1 Streetcar – Status: 1
Expand the streetcar fleet by one more vehicle in 2015 to achieve service targets for performance and schedule.
B3.7 Streetcar Economic Impact – Status: 3
Strengthen analysis and documentation of Portland Streetcar’s impact on economic development by validating and monitoring measures over time and establishing formal reanalysis and new research opportunities.
Aha! There are a bunch of things the city is working on that I wasn’t aware of. The ratings range from 0 (not yet initiated) to 4 (completed) and their values, added up and averaged, are what influence the less-useful “dials” on the main dashboard site. There’s also a helpful chart on each page, showing PBOT’s relative progress on each sub-goal:
This sort of public tracking of everything an organization does requires significant effort. But we pay PBOT $326 million a year to do all this — it only makes sense that some of that money go toward understanding what we’re getting for it.