In recent decades, many transportation agencies have adopted a performance-based strategy for developing and supporting decisions related to transportation planning. Recent Federal legislation related to intercity passenger rail planning and development has adopted numerous provisions that emphasize the role of performance measurement throughout the process. This paper reports the findings of a comprehensive synthesis of performance measurement and quality assurance techniques for intercity passenger rail service planning and development. A performance-based process can support planning and decision-making for a wide range of activities including statewide rail planning, rail corridor planning, and management of existing services. For statewide planning purposes, a performance measurement system can be used to prioritize specific intercity corridors for detailed feasibility study. For existing rail services, a performance-based process can be used to establish performance targets related to operational and customer service aspects, measure progress toward these targets, and develop strategies to achieve desired results. A regular “quality assurance” program can also be used to maintain accountability for service operators and correct deficiencies in service delivery for existing routes. States and other entities involved with the passenger rail planning process will benefit from the findings of this synthesis by providing insight into the “ideal” performance management strategy.

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