"A Desire Named Streetcar": The Hiawatha Light Rail Line as a Case Study in Better Decision Making
Matthew Lindstrom, Political Science
The Hiawatha light rail transit line was originally projected to cost $250 million. When the first train left the station in 2004, however, the total project cost was $715 million. This paper analyzes the approval process for the Hiawatha project. It examines and critiques a planning technique called "reference class forecasting," which attempts to improve planning forecasts by comparing them to previous completed projects. Applying this technique retroactively, I conclude that forecasting on the Hiawatha project could have been more accurate. More importantly, reference class forecasting, together with Before and After Studies and a change in incentive structure, will lead to more accurate forecasts. Future projects, which will continue to grow in number as light rail becomes more popular, can benefit from these recommendations.
Schnobrich, Jeff, ""A Desire Named Streetcar": The Hiawatha Light Rail Line as a Case Study in Better Decision Making" (2009). Honors Theses. 197.
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