Ten Behavioral Biases in Project Planning and Management: An Overview by Bent Flyvbjerg ¹ ²

1 University of Oxford, Oxford, UK   2 IT University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Bent Flyvbjerg is among the world’s foremost analysts of public project planning and management shortcomings. His research shows persuasively that there are multiple, repeated behaviors that have consistently resulted in high public works project cost overruns, demand estimate shortfalls and benefit overstatements. He has compiled a comprehensive history of over 2,000 projects on which he bases his findings and conclusions.

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Sonoma County Transit Integration Pilot Project

Sonoma County has 490,000 residents and five separate transit agencies. Before the coronavirus hit, these agencies attracted a total ridership of just 15,000 riders a day, out of a total of 1.8 million person trips a day. Sonoma County Transit, the Santa Rosa City Bus, and Petaluma Transit provide local transit service while the SMART commuter rail line and Golden Gate Transit serve inter-county and regional trips.

While BATWG has never joined the chorus chanting for a single humongous bureaucracy to take over and operate all of the Bay Area’s 27 separate transit agencies, we do recognize that there are opportunities to effectively combine some services and the small systems in Sonoma County definitely qualify.

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Does this Research Lead to Action?

Using the incoming federal and State funds effectively to step up the pace of improving the non-automotive forms of transportation and taking other steps to improve air quality will require hard and in some cases controversial decisions, followed by well- lead and well-coordinated implementation programs. Here are excerpts from a letter that BATWG sent on December 19th to the California Air Resources Board expressing concern over a common public agency preference for studying a problem rather than addressing it.

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Transparency at BART

On December 9, 2021 BATWG sent a letter to BART citing the lack of transparency in three key elements of its program; namely, the ongoing redistricting process, its Police City Review Board and its Auditing Committee.

BATWG has major concerns about public transparency and lack of easy access to these and perhaps other BART Board Committee meetings, especially during the pandemic when many meeting are held “virtually.” This problem requires immediate remedial action due to the rapidly-moving BART Board redistricting process. Following are three examples of the kinds of problems produced when relevant public information is kept from the public. Of particular concern right now are the backroom redistricting processes now ongoing, apparently all over the Region.

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Union City’s December 2, 2021 Presentation to the BART Board

Here are excerpts from BATWG’s  December 12, 2021’s letter to BART Director and ACTC Vice President  Rebecca Saltzman as well as to other members of the BART Board warning against the diversion of Measure BB Intermodal Funds needed to improve walking and bicycle access to the Union City BART station to the City’s ill-conceived Quarry Lakes “Parkway”,  previously called the East-West Connector (EWC) highway.

Subject:  Union City’s December 2, 2021 Presentation to the BART Board

Dear Honorable Rebecca Saltzman,

Since you are BART’s representative on the Alameda County Transportation Commission and since it appears that on December 2, 2021 BART was not given the whole story, please keep the following thoughts in mind:

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