Public transportation decision-making: A case analysis of the Memphis light rail corridor and route selection with analytic hierarchy process


Reza Banai

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - route design, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail


The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) New Starts process involves multiple criteria to assess funding eligibility for local public transit investments. In this article a multicriteria method–Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP)—is used to assess light rail transit (LRT) corridor and route alternatives. Although the focus is on the current LRT corridor and route selection process in Memphis, Tennessee, the AHP-aided procedure is intended to facilitate the public transportation decision-making process generically, reflective of federal New Starts guidelines as well as local priorities and preferences. Each alternative corridor and route is assessed functionally with respect to site-specific ratings of the criteria and subcriteria in a unified framework. This framework contains the goal, participant groups, criteria, subcriteria, and alternatives as various elements of a public transportation decision process with relative influence on the outcome. The best corridor and route alignment alternative is identified by a composite score on the AHP ratio scale. Finally, with sensitivity analysis, it is shown how a change on the importance of the criteria or participant group priority influences the trade-offs among the criteria and the outcome. The article concludes with a retrospective, reflective discussion of the planning process as a whole.


Permission to publish the abstract given by the Journal of Public Transportation.