Check out this post from transportation scholar Randal O’Toole, in which he shows how to carry out more rational transit (and transportation) planning:
I would suggest that, instead of focusing on inputs (how much land to manage for timber, how much for wilderness, how much money to spend on highways, how much for transit), plans should focus on outputs. Here is my four-step process for developing alternatives.
First, identify the goals of the plan. They might include safety, congestion relief, reduced air pollution and other environmental effects, energy efficiency, and so forth. Goals must be outputs, not inputs. Things like “multimodalism” and “walkability” are inputs, not outputs. Goals should not be biased towards any particular mode but should focus on the things that people consider important.
Second, measure the effects of every possible transportation project in the region on each of the goals. How many lives will each project save or destroy? How many hours of congestion relief will the projects provide? How much pollution will they prevent or generate? How much energy will they consume or save? In addition, how much will each project cost?
Third, rank all of the projects using each goal. Planners should divide the benefits of each project by its dollar cost to get a cost-efficiency estimate. Then sort the projects from high to low cost efficiencies.
Fourth, create an alternative from each goal’s ranking. Planners know roughly how much money the region will have to spend on transportation improvements. So pick the top projects ranked according to each goal until all the money is spent.
The result would be alternatives emphasizing Safety, Congestion Relief, Clean Air, Energy Efficiency, and any other goals planners considered important (and quantifiable). None of these alternatives are biased toward transit, autos, bikes, or whatever. Instead, they each focus on an important community goal. Moreover, it is likely that there will be a lot of overlap between alternatives, because some projects that improve safety will also reduce congestion and air pollution. By finding such overlaps, and weighing trade offs when goals conflict, planners can put together a preferred alternative.
The trouble with O’Toole’s criteria are that they assume a) that planners desire rational approaches to planning, b) that these would be able to trump considerations like "progressiveness" or "community" (whatever these have to do with getting from A-to-B), c) that transport planners/politicians haven’t already been captured by special interests (or, as with N.C. aren’t themselves special interests), and d) that taxpayers realize they’re being scorched for these rolling boondoggles and can put government functionaries in their place to adopt more sensible means of transportation.