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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Performance Management

Railroad tracks through forest by teka77 123RF Stock Photo
The TAM Final Rule and recent changes to the National Transit Database (NTD) reporting requirements requires transit agencies to submit an asset inventory, condition assessments, performance targets, and a narrative report to the NTD annually in addition to developing a Transit Asset Management (TAM) plan. The TAM Performance Measures Fact Sheet provides an overview of the process of measuring performance, setting performance targets, and reporting to FTA. This webpage provides further explanation as well as links to additional resources on each performance measure, how to set targets, and what goes into the reports required by FTA. Another source of information is the self-paced, on-demand web-based course TSI Calculating Performance Measures and Setting Targets.

Performance Measures

Introduction

Under the TAM Final Rule, FTA established four performance measures to approximate the State of Good Repair (SGR) for four categories of capital assets. Calculating performance measures helps transit agencies to quantify the condition of their assets, which facilitates setting targets that support local funding prioritization.

Asset Category FTA established Performance Measure
Rolling Stock % of revenue vehicles exceeding ULB
Equipment % of non-revenue service vehicles exceeding ULB
Facilities % of facilities rated under 3.0 on the TERM scale
Infrastructure % of track segments under performance restriction

FTA measures performance within each asset category (Rolling Stock, Equipment, Facilities, and Infrastructure) at the asset class level. It is important to note that some performance measures are limited to specific classes within that category. Tables for each asset category with example asset classes and associated performance measures are found further down on this page.

Note that for each asset category the performance measure is a characterization of the percentage of the number of assets that are not in a state of good repair. All of the performance measures have been designed with the goal of having low values. As the age increases or condition of assets deteriorates, the value of the performance measures will increase.

Lower Performance Measures Values = Better State of Good Repair

TAM measures performance toward SGR in three ways:

Rolling Stock & Equipment

Measure: The percentage of vehicles that exceed the useful life benchmark (ULB).

Useful Life Benchmark: The expected lifecycle of a capital asset for a particular transit provider’s operating environment, or the acceptable period of use in service for a particular transit provider’s operating environment. Note: ULB is distinct from the useful life definition used in FTA’s grant programs

The Default ULB Cheat Sheet lists the default values set by FTA. See the Useful Life Benchmarks FAQ for additional details on ULBs. ULBs can be customized by modifying the default value in NTD, no prior FTA approval is required to customize a ULB (See Performance Measures and Targets section on this webpage for more information). See TSI Calculating Performance Measures and Setting Targets – Lesson 3 for more information on setting ULB Targets.

Reporting Units:

  • Rolling Stock are reported by vehicle type. The NTD divides vehicles into 23 types.
  • Equipment is reported only if it is a road-worthy, self-propelled maintenance or construction vehicle. Equipment assets are categorized into three vehicle types: automobiles, rubber-tired vehicles, and steel wheeled vehicles.

Equipment valued at more than $50K such as construction & maintenance equipment (for example: cranes, prime mover, fork lift, solar panels, battery packs, and generators) are included in the TAM Plan asset inventory and condition assessment but not reported to NTD nor included in Equipment performance measure. See How do I handle non-vehicle equipment?

Example

Performance Measure Asset Category Example Asset Class Example Vehicle Type*

Percentage of revenue
vehicles met or exceeded Useful Life Benchmark
by vehicle type

Rolling Stock Buses Articulated Bus (AB)
Cutaway Bus (CU)
Other Passenger Vehicles Cable Car (CC)
Railcars Light Rail Vehicle (LR)
Commuter Rail Locomotive (RL)
Ferries Ferryboat (FB)
Percentage of nonrevenue vehicles met or exceeded Useful Life Benchmark
by vehicle type
Equipment Nonrevenue Service Vehicles Automobile (AO)
Rubber-Tired Vehicles
Steel-Wheeled Vehicles

* The NTD divides revenue vehicles (Rolling Stock) into 25 vehicle types, six of which are listed here as examples

Facilities

Measure: The percentage of facilities (by group) that are rated less than 3.0 on the Transit Economic Requirements Model (TERM) Scale.

The TERM scale assigns numerical ratings based on condition:

TERM Rating Condition Description
Excellent 4.8 - 5.0 No visible defects; new or near new condition;
may still be under warranty if applicable
Good 4.0 - 4.7 Good condition, but no longer new; may be slightly defective or deteriorated, but is overall functional
Adequate 3.0 - 3.9 Moderately deteriorated or defective,
but has not exceeded useful life
Marginal 2.0 - 2.9 Defective or deteriorated; in need of replacement; exceeded useful life
Poor 1.0 - 1.9 Critically damaged or in need of immediate repair; well past useful life

The TAM Facility Performance Measure Reporting Guidebook and TSI Calculating Performance Measures and Setting Targets – Lesson 4 provide additional guidance on conducting facility condition assessments. An agency should have a consistent, documented method for rating facilities.

Reporting Units: Four types of facilities are reported to NTD. They are grouped into two classes for the purpose of performance measurement and target setting:

  1. Administrative and Maintenance
  2. Passenger and Parking

FTA requires that facility condition data be fully updated every four years, at a minimum. Agencies may choose to assess a quarter of their facilities every year, or more frequently. Each annual report must include updated facility condition data based on any assessments completed since the last report. Note: Only facilities with direct capital responsibility require condition assessments.

For more detail on shared responsibility, see Do I have capital responsibility for a shared use facility? and What must be reported when a facility is shared?

Example

Performance Measure Asset
Category
Example Asset Class Example Facility Class
Percentage of assets
with condition rating
below 3.0 on FTA
TERM Scale
by asset class
Facilities Administrative & Maintenance Facilities Revenue Collection Facility
Service and Inspection Facility
Parking & Passenger Facilities Parking Garages
Park and Ride Lots
Rail Terminals
Bus Transfer Stations

Infrastructure

Measure: The percentage of track segments (by rail mode) that have performance restrictions. The infrastructure performance measure applies only to rail fixed guideway systems.

Some key terms and concepts associated with the infrastructure performance measure are as follows:

  • A performance restriction is defined as a segment of guideway track miles where the maximum permissible speed of transit vehicles is set to a value that is below the guideway’s full service speed. Restrictions can be caused by issues with rail fixed guideway, track, power & signal systems.
  • Track miles are defined as the miles of track used in service, regardless of directionality.
  • Track segments are measured to the nearest 0.01 of a mile.
  • The annual performance measure for Infrastructure is an average of each month’s performance restriction measure. Performance restrictions should be measured at 9:00 AM local time on the first Wednesday of each month.

The TAM Infrastructure Performance Measure Reporting Guidebook and TSI Calculating Performance Measures and Setting Targets – Lesson 5 provide additional guidance on calculating performance restrictions.

Reporting Units: Track segments by rail mode. Speed restrictions on a specific track segment may be caused by issues with any class of rail infrastructure, not solely the track elements.

Example

Performance Measure Asset
Category
Example Asset Class Example Infrastructure Type
Percentage of track segments with performance restrictions Infrastructure Guideway Elements At-Grade In-Street/Embedded
Elevated Steel Viaduct or Bridge
Below-Grade Retained Cut
Below-Grade Bored or Blasted Tunnel
Power & Signal Elements Third Rail/Power Distribution
Train Control and Signaling
Track Elements Grade Crossing
Single Turnout

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Target Setting

A target is a goal associated with performance that is used to track the progress of capital assets towards achieving a state of good-repair. Targets connect a provider’s strategic goals to the actions that the provider will take to reach those goals.

The TAM Final Rule defines a performance target as a quantifiable level of performance or condition, expressed as a value for the measure, to be achieved within a time period required by FTA.

Lower Performance Measures Values = Better State of Good Repair

FTA requires that providers set performance targets for each applicable performance measure and report them to the NTD annually for the upcoming fiscal year.

For each performance measure include:

  • Only those assets for which you have direct capital responsibility
  • Only asset types specifically referenced in the performance measure

The TAM Final Rule does not require that agencies follow a specific process in setting performance targets, but the TSI Course Calculating Performance Measures and Setting Targets - Lesson 2 provides an in-depth overview of the target setting process. Setting and achieving performance targets is a local decision; targets should be set according to realistic expectations, available data, and expected financial resources from all sources over the upcoming year. During target setting, an agency needs to consider its ability to improve or maintain the state of its capital assets, as well as the perception of the intended audience when determining how high or low to set the target. The TAM Final Rule does not lay out penalties for missing a target, nor are rewards issued for attainment.

For example target calculations, see the TAM Performance Measures Fact Sheet.

Group Plan Targets

Tier II agencies are eligible to participate in group TAM plans. A group TAM plan sponsor must coordinate the development of the group TAM plan with each participant’s Accountable Executive and make the completed plan easily available to all participants and applicable planning agencies. Group plan sponsors will be responsible for reporting collective performance measures and targets for all agencies participating their group TAM plan. Sponsors should submit only one unified target per performance measure type for the group.

Planning Targets

The TAM rule requires transit agencies to coordinate to the extent practicable with their State and MPO planning colleagues as well as share TAM data with them. However, in addition to the transit provider requirements, the 2016 Planning Final Rule requires:

  • States and MPOs to establish performance targets that address the performance measures or standards established in the TAM Final rule.
  • States and MPOs to coordinate targets to the maximum extent practicable with providers of public transportation.
  • MPOs to establish performance targets 180 days after the transit agencies establish their performance targets.

Additional resources on the target setting requirements of the Planning Rule can be found through the TAM – Planning Fact Sheet and FAQs.

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Reporting

Transit operators collect a wide variety of data on their capital assets and their performance. The TAM Rule requires transit providers to report some of this data annually to FTA’s National Transit Database (NTD). The submission must include: asset inventory data, condition assessments and performance results, projected targets for the next fiscal year, and a narrative report on changes in transit system conditions and the progress toward achieving previous performance targets. Transit operators report this information to the NTD through the Asset Inventory Module (AIM). The reporting requirements were phased in starting in the FY2018 reporting period. See the most up-to-date NTD Reporting Policy Manual for more information.

The following table consolidates the deadlines associated with NTD reporting from What deadlines must I comply with under the TAM rule?

If your fiscal year runs July-
June
Oct-
Sept
Jan-
Dec
- Complete compliant TAM Plan (1st required)
- Share TAM Plan with planning partners
 Oct 2018

- Report FY18 Asset Inventory Module (AIM) data to NTD (1st required)
- Submit targets for FY22 to NTD 

Oct
2021

Jan
2022

Apr
2022

-Complete updated TAM Plan
-Share TAM Plan with planning partners

(no later than) Oct 2022

- Report FY22 AIM data to NTD
- Submit targets for FY23 to NTD
- Submit narrative report to NTD

Oct
2022

Jan
2023

Apr
2023

- Report FY23 AIM data to NTD
- Submit targets for FY24 to NTD
- Submit narrative report to NTD

Oct
2023

Jan
2024

Apr
2024

- Report FY24 AIM data to NTD
- Submit targets for FY25 to NTD
- Submit narrative report to NTD
Oct 2024 Jan 2025 Apr 2025
- Report FY25 AIM data to NTD
- Submit targets for FY26 to NTD
- Submit narrative report to NTD
Oct 2025 Jan 2026 Apr 2026
- Complete Updated TAM Plan
- Share TAM Plan with planning partners
  (no later than) Oct 2026
-Continue reporting AIM data to NTD annually
-Submit targets for upcoming fiscal year to NTD
-Submit narrative report to NTD
Oct Jan Apr

See TSI Calculating Performance Measures and Setting Targets – Lesson 6 for more information on reporting and next steps.

Asset Inventory Module (AIM)

Condition assessments, performance metrics, and projected targets for the next fiscal year are submitted annually to NTD Asset Inventory Module (AIM). Transit operators report on asset condition for the current year and set targets for each asset class for the following year. The targets reflect an agency’s expectation of its ability to keep assets in a state of good repair, based on current conditions, anticipated funding, and internal agency decision making procedures. While FTA provides resources and technical assistance to support target setting, there is no prescribed process that agencies must use. Furthermore, there are no rewards for meeting the targets and no penalties for not meeting the targets.

Operators that have an NTD ID and report annually to NTD that are also participating in Group plans are responsible for submitting their inventories and condition assessment data to the NTD. The Group Plan Sponsor reports inventory and condition data for participants who do not otherwise report to the NTD. Group Plan Sponsors report one performance target for each applicable asset class, rather than individual targets for each participant in the Group Plan. See the Reporting Manual for more information regarding reporting.

Narrative Report

In report year 2019, agencies began the required provision of an annual narrative report submit to NTD describing changes to asset condition from the previous year and detailing progress to meet performance targets set in the previous year. While there is no specific format requirement, FTA has developed an example Narrative Report template.

Where AIM Data is Used

The AIM data is used in a number of places to provide context on the state of transit assets nationwide. Some of this data feeds into the Transit Economic Requirements Model (TERM), and is used to model future transit investment needs and reported in the biennial Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance Report (C&P) to Congress, jointly published by FHWA and FTA. The C&P uses AIM data, as well as additional population and service information to model the nationwide condition of transit and forecast the cost of deferred replacement needs.

FTA also uses the data from the AIM directly to represent a national summary report of asset conditions and calculate metrics for condition, performance, and other asset information for that year. The reports can be found below.

AIM Data Model

TAM Data Summary

Each year FTA summarizes and analyzes the raw data from the AIM in a TAM Data Summary report. The links to the previous reports are as follows:

The TAM Data Summary supports FTA’s efforts to provide a national snapshot of asset inventory and conditions. FTA collects this information to help support transit agencies in the implementation of their TAM programs and progress on meeting their self-determined performance targets, based on local decisions. The reported data allows FTA to calculate performance metrics across asset classes and operator types. Since operator reported targets are a local decision, the relative difference between the current condition and the projected target can indicate agencies’ expectation to be able to maintain transit assets in a state of good repair.

The TAM Data Summary is based on data self-reported by the agencies and the analysis of the data reflects what is submitted by agencies. FTA verifies the reported data to resolve discrepancies such as values reported outside of the expected range, but does not model or extrapolate this data. Reporting TAM performance data is a relatively new requirement and the FTA expects there to be some reporting variability in the first several years of annual reports. In part, this variability may be due to operators establishing reporting procedures that meet the requirements and align with their local decision making frameworks. FTA continues to provide technical assistance for recipients as they mature in their reporting and implementation of TAM.

Resources

The following resources may be helpful when working on your performance measure targets and reporting. Visit the TAM Resource Table for a full list of available TAM resources.

These Frequently Asked Questions provide specific insight:

The TAM Resource Table shares actual agency examples of performance measurement and target setting:

Other resources on performance measurement, target setting, and reporting:

Contact TAM to share your agency’s performance measure and documentation.

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Last updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2022