Planning, Implementing, Operating, and Evaluating
Event operations planning encompasses advance planning and stakeholder coordination activities conducted for a specific planned special event. Operations planning process steps include: (1) risk assessment and contingency planning, (2) feasibility study preparation, and (3) traffic management plan development.
Risk Assessment and Contingency Planning
Potential scenarios where spectator or non-attendee behavior may cause overcrowded conditions in the vicinity of an event venue and/or create unplanned road closures and traffic impacts include:
- Demonstration or protest at politically or socially controversial events;
- Ticketless event patrons causing overcrowding at major sporting and concert events;
- Fan celebration after team championship victory; and
- Event security.
Event-oriented risks influence security contingencies. For instance, high security events may involve deployment of security checkpoints on approach to the venue. Service time at checkpoints may induce traffic queues.
In contrast to risk assessment, contingency planning addresses the identified potential of an unplanned circumstance(s) posing a significant, negative effect on day-of-event traffic and transportation operations. Types of unplanned events that may require advance contingency planning include security threat, weather, major traffic incident, delayed or cancelled event, absence of traffic management team personnel, and equipment breakdown.
Weather circumstances include severe weather outbreak, flooding on roads and in parking areas, and parking during wet weather. Considerations in developing a planned special event traffic management plan that addresses various contingency scenarios include:
- Develop scenario-based traffic management plan;
- Consider and plan for a range of possible unplanned circumstances and severity levels; and
- Determine changes in operation due to unplanned circumstances.
Contingency planning represents event insurance. The availability of contingency plans helps mitigate a potential systematic breakdown of the transportation system during an unexpected event occurring at or near the same time as the planned special event.
A feasibility study:
- Gauges impact of the proposed event on traffic and parking operations;
- Assists in the decision to preliminarily approve an event based on predicted impacts; and
- Serves as input to the traffic management plan and development of impact mitigation strategies.
The structure and approach of a planned special event feasibility study resembles a Traffic Impact Study required for planned developments. Initially, the study is conducted without roadway improvements or initiatives to reduce travel demand.
The Feasibility Study determines 1) the additional traffic generated by the planned special event, 2) the origins of the event patrons, 3) the specific destinations of the event patrons at the assigned parking lots, 4) the roadways that will be used to travel to and from the event, 5) the capacity of the intersections along the roadways due to the addition of the event generated traffic to the existing traffic volumes, and 6) the mitigating roadway improvements to maintain or enhance the existing levels of service.
The preparation of a Feasibility Study provides the decision maker with the ability to make decisions that can better serve the community, the traveling public and the event patrons.
Traffic Management Plan Components
A planned special event traffic management plan includes operational strategies for managing event-generated and background traffic on the day-of-event within the local (venue site) and regional area impacted. A traffic management plan (1) indicates how traffic, parking, and pedestrian operations will be managed on the day-of-event, (2) coordinates and mitigates transportation impacts, and (3) adapts to traffic demand scenarios, demand management plan, and contingencies. It may be maintained as one interagency plan or a series of coordinated jurisdictional or facility plans. Coordination represents the key as major planned special events may have a widespread effect on transportation system operations, and mitigation efforts involve multiple agencies developing traffic management plans for local streets, arterials, and freeways that span jurisdictions. The challenge to stakeholders involves developing an operational strategy that does not defeat the objectives of another.
Key components of traffic management plan development include:
- Traffic flow route planning;
- Site access and parking planning;
- Pedestrian access planning;
- Traffic control planning;
- Travel demand management (TDM) and transit service planning; and
- Incident management and traveler information planning.
A successful traffic management plan satisfies the customer requirements of all transportation users, and optimizes use of personnel and equipment resources assigned to day-of-event operations. It also provides flexibility and proactive strategies for responding to real-time conditions and events.
Elements included in each of the six components of a traffic management plan are listed in Table 5-1.
|Traffic Flow Route Planning||Site Access and Parking Planning||Pedestrian Access Planning|
|Traffic Control Planning||Travel Demand Management (TDM) and Transit Service Planning||Incident Management and Traveler Information Planning|
Traffic Flow Route Planning
Traffic flow route planning allows stakeholders to influence and control spectator patterns of ingress and egress in order to improve system operations without affecting emergency services and neighboring residents and businesses. Key planning objectives include ways to (1) modify predicted flow routes to maximize system operating efficiency while meeting public safety agency needs and (2) provide advance information to patrons and participants on best access routes to the event. Predicted flow routes refer to anticipated freeways, arterials, and streets that spectators will likely use to access the event venue (or major parking area) from a certain origin. Modifying routes strive to take advantage of excess capacity on certain facilities, avoid intersecting two or more ingress/egress routes or emergency access routes.
Figure 5-1 shows a Traffic Flow Route Planning Map for a planned special event at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia. Motorists are advised to use the exits on the following color coded routes to reach the venue:
- From the north: Use Purple Route
- From the south: Use Orange Route
- From the west: Use Red Route
- From the east: Use Green Route
The website www.rir.com also provides detailed, written directions.
Site Access and Parking Planning
Site access and parking planning involves determining strategies and resource applications that facilitate a three-step process: access, process, and park. Access refers to streets serving a spectator destination or parking area. Process refers to "approving" (e.g., money collection) vehicles for entry into parking areas. Park refers to handling vehicles from the process point to a parking space.
Pedestrian Access Planning
Pedestrian access planning provides for the safe and efficient movement of pedestrians within the immediate area of the venue. Key planning objectives include (1) accommodating pedestrian trips to/from various mode transfer points in the vicinity of the event venue, (2) minimizing pedestrian/vehicular conflicts, and (3) facilitating rapid dispersion of pedestrian flow after the end of a planned special event. Mode transfer points include parking areas (auto to walking), transit stations (auto to bus or walking to bus), and pick-up/drop-off locations. In order to ensure pedestrian safety, a pedestrian access plan should accommodate pedestrians accessing an event via a network of safe walking routes and minimizes pedestrian/vehicular conflicts. This includes minimizing vehicular turning movements at intersections with heavy pedestrian movements.
Traffic Control Planning
Traffic control planning facilitates traffic flow on recommended flow routes through service-enhancing strategies that handle forecasted event traffic demand on these routes. Key planning objectives include (1) specifying freeway management strategies to minimize freeway mainline congestion, (2) identifying capacity-enhancing strategies to facilitate throughput on local flow routes, and (3) providing strategies for increasing intersection traffic handling capacity.
Travel Demand Management and Transit Service Planning
Travel demand management strategies aim to maximize the efficiency of the transportation system, thus reducing the volume of traffic on the roadway and minimizing peak demand rates that contribute to congestion. TDM goals target traveler incentives – time/money savings and comfort.
Modifications to existing transit service for a planned special event represent TDM strategies, and additional ridership can provide substantial additional revenue while relieving traffic congestion in the vicinity of an event venue. Key planning objectives seek to (1) maximize use of available transit capacity, (2) increase ridership during an event, (3) support travel demand management goals, (4) serve the public interest, and (5) ensure operations cost-effectiveness.
Marketing may be used to inform the public of the availability of public transit service to/from a planned special event and convince the public to use the service. Marketing techniques include published guides, information hotlines, advertising, tickets by mail, and special incentives.
Incident Management and Traveler Information Planning
Potential traffic incident management activities that support day-of-event operations include:
- Crash prevention through portable lighting, congestion warning signs, public information safety campaign, and enforcement;
- Use of or increase in service patrols for on-scene incident management and clearance, traffic management plan deployment, and traffic conditions monitoring; and
- Traffic incident quick clearance initiatives for rapid clearance of disabled and illegally parked or abandoned vehicles.
A transportation management center may provide additional support through surveillance, traveler information dissemination, communications and information sharing, traffic control and management, and command post quarters.
Traveler information dissemination helps spectators assess what transportation mode(s), route, and parking area they will be using when traveling to/from the event. Such information also assists in spectators budgeting sufficient travel time in accessing the venue. Traveler information dissemination techniques include media (radio, television, newspaper), Internet, changeable message signs, highway advisory radio, telephone information system (511), public information campaign, event/venue guide, and kiosks.
Decision Maker's Role in Event Operations Planning
Table 5-2 presents the major efforts that should be considered in the decision maker's role in Event Operations Planning.
The decision maker's responsibility to the community relative to the planned special events event operations planning is listed in Table 5-3.
Implementation activities include traffic management plan deployment as well as testing and training activities. The objective of a good implementation plan is to 1) improve the efficiency of traffic management plan deployment, 2) identify and address unknown and potential problems before the event, and 3) increase traffic management team preparedness. Potential steps comprising implementation activities include:
- Develop an implementation plan;
- Conduct a stakeholder simulation exercise(s);
- Establish interagency communication protocol;
- Test communication equipment compatibility;
- Test equipment resources; and
- Recruit and train volunteers.
Implementation Plan Steps
An implementation plan details the actions required to put a traffic management plan into effect on the day-of-event. The plan (1) defines assignments, roles and responsibilities of traffic management team personnel, (2) describes a scenario-based, operations game plan at the management level, and (3) specifies an interagency communication strategy. Considerations in developing an implementation plan include:
- Develop prior to review and testing exercises;
- Assign right personnel, authority, and responsibility to effect optimal performance;
- Empower team supervisors at every level; and
- Use a quick reference format.
Review and Testing
Review and testing allows the test of written assumptions in the traffic management plan to see what must be changed and how the traffic management plan can be improved. This action (1) identifies potential limitations of the traffic management plan prior to the day-of-event, (2) increases stakeholder familiarity of the roles and capabilities of other team stakeholders, and (3) identifies unknown and potential problems before the event. Review and testing proves particularly useful for major events involving several stakeholders and complex traffic management and security strategies. Activities involved in review and testing include:
- Stakeholder simulation exercises – tabletop exercises held in a meeting room or field exercises held at the venue.
- Equipment testing – communication linkages, changeable message signs, highway advisory radio, closed-circuit television, cellular phones and radio frequencies.
Importance of Interagency Communication
Stakeholders should understand (1) how they can reach other traffic management team members during the day-of-event, (2) which channels they will be found on, and (3) what information should be shared. Considerations in achieving clear, uninterrupted interagency communications on the day-of-event include:
- Equipment – radio channel/frequencies, trunked radio systems, cellular phones;
- Protocol – direct communication between team personnel versus indirect via agency dispatch; and
- Information – using clear language protocols (instead of codes) on a multi-agency frequency.
An additional, underlying consideration concerns communications system function (1) to share information and/or (2) to achieve real-time coordination.
Volunteer Recruitment and Training
The recruitment of temporary staff and volunteers expands traffic management team capabilities and elevates its operational efficiency. In some cases, the amount of personnel required to implement traffic management plan strategies on the day-of-event, coupled with equipment delivery and installation, may exceed the staffing capabilities of agencies and contractors involved in day-of-event operations. As a result, volunteer recruitment and training becomes paramount to the success of day-of-event operations. Key planning objectives include (1) reduce personnel cost, (2) permit public agencies to adequately meet other daily staffing requirements, and (3) provide expanded control over transportation operations and greater convenience to spectators.
Considerations in recruiting and training volunteers include:
- Activities requiring volunteer support;
- Criteria for recruiting and organizing volunteers;
- Rewards for volunteer service;
- Methods of conducting volunteer training; and
- Volunteer training activities.
Decision Maker's Role in Implementation Activities
Table 5-4 presents the major efforts that should be considered in the decision maker's role in Implementation Activities.
The decision maker's responsibility to the community relative to the implementation activities are presented in Table 5-5.
Day-of-event activities involve the actual implementation and operation of the traffic management plan during the day-of-event. Planned actions and management methods support real-time traffic management and control decisions during the day-of-event and provide key performance evaluation data for future planning. This readies participating staff to expect the unexpected and effect a swift and coordinated response to unplanned events. Key day-of-event activities include:
- Implement a team management process;
- Designate a multi-agency command post;
- Establish protocol for considering and implementing traffic management plan changes;
- Conduct plan evaluation during the day-of-event;
- Perform traffic monitoring on day-of-event; and
- Interact with media.
Responsibilities and Organization of the Traffic Management Team
The traffic management team includes not only many of those stakeholders that have been involved during the event operations planning phase but also those who may participate for the first time on the day-of-event. This includes event support stakeholders (e.g., traffic control contractors) and volunteer personnel. Typical stakeholders comprising an interagency traffic management team includes any combination of (1) traffic operations and transit agencies, (2) law enforcement and other public safety agencies, (3) event organizer and venue operator, (4) transportation consultants, (5) traffic control contractors and parking operators, and (6) emergency management agency. Operations managers (e.g., engineer, lieutenant) and field personnel (e.g., maintenance crews, traffic control officers) from these stakeholders represent the interagency traffic management team.
Traffic management team responsibilities include:
- Manage travel on day-of-event;
- Determine and monitor resource requirements;
- Conduct traffic management plan evaluation and modification based on real-time conditions;
- Perform traffic monitoring activities; and
- Chronicle observed successes/lessons learned.
Stakeholders must adopt a formal management process to establish responsibilities, implement a chain-of-command, and clarify decision-making so to ensure successful traffic management plan deployment. The scope of transportation management activities for a major planned special event may warrant application of the Incident Command System (i.e., Unified Command) for establishing an integrated traffic management team that consists of multi-disciplinary and potentially multi-jurisdictional stakeholders. Unified Command supports traffic management team supervisors make consensus decisions without delay when real-time conditions demand adjustments to the traffic management plan.
Figure 5-2 shows command post (center) arrangements for traffic management team operations on the day-of-event. Command post options include primary (interagency) and secondary (agency-specific or interagency but applicable to a sub-area of the affected region). A TMC may function as a primary command post, particularly if located very near the event venue. Access to TMC communications resources and other valuable tools (e.g., surveillance and traffic control systems) prove advantageous when using it as a command post. Mobile command posts represent secondary, agency-specific command posts common for larger events for more effective management of field operations and improved span-of-control. Agencies operating a mobile command post likely still staff a ranking official at the interagency command post.
Managing Day-of-Event Operations
A traffic management plan should remain flexible with the ability to modify and enhance it with necessary changes based on real-time traffic conditions. Key traffic management plan evaluation activities on the day-of-event include:
- Establish briefing schedule and location;
- Identify ranking representative of each stakeholder agency participating in the briefings;
- Conduct day-of-event briefing; and
- Achieve consensus on recommended changes.
Briefing meetings may take place at regular intervals during expected lulls in activity during the event day, at the end of each event day for a multi-day event, and/or at the end of a shift change at the command post. Small-scale events or events involving few agencies may not require scheduled briefing meetings. Typical steps comprising an interagency briefing on real-time conditions and management activities on the day-of-event include (1) situation status, (2) objectives and priorities, (3) current organization and resource assignments, (4) communications, (5) concerns and related issues, and (6) recommended changes. Consensus is paramount to ensure affected stakeholders and staff is aware of a plan change and any concerns with the proposed change are satisfactorily addressed.
Considerations for managing day-of-event field operations include: (1) personnel performing different tasks in different areas compared to their normal routine, (2) frequent breaks required in difficult conditions, (3) schedule personnel for ingress, event period, and egress, and (4) response to earlier/later event end. Scheduling issues include type/quantity of skilled personnel, deployment locations, and personnel responsibilities. Events of long duration may necessitate an additional staff shift(s), and certain events may end earlier than expected, thus triggering the need for rapid response and resource mobilization for egress operations. Advance planning eliminates potential confusion in managing field operations.
Traffic Monitoring Needs
Traffic monitoring represents an important day-of-event activity, serving to provide traffic and incident management support in addition to performance evaluation data. Timely deployment of contingency plans developed during the event operations planning phase depends on the accurate collection and communication of real-time traffic data between traffic management team members. Potential uses of day-of-event traffic/conditions monitoring observations and information include:
- Track changes in system operations during event;
- Identify locations with poor performance;
- Note potential causes and required mitigation;
- Deliver information to decision-makers and public;
- Present specific improvements for future events; and
- Provide input to post-event evaluation activities.
Methods for collecting traffic data on the day-of-event include (1) CCTV systems for viewing real-time conditions, (2) in-roadway or over-roadway traffic sensors, (3) vehicle probes for surveillance and travel data, (4) traffic signal and system detectors, (5) parking management systems, and (6) manual methods. Example statistics or measures that can be obtained from traffic monitoring on the day-of-event include congestion delay, travel time, travel speed, change in travel mode, and change in transit ridership.
Decision Maker's Role in Day-of-Event Activities
Table 5-6 presents the major efforts that should be considered in the decision maker's role in Day-of-Event Activities.
Table 5-7 presents the decision maker's responsibility to the community concerning day-of-event activities for the purposes of managing travel for planned special events.
Post-event activities cover the evaluation of local and regional operations based on stakeholder debriefings and an analysis of traffic data collected on the day-of-event. The purpose of post event activities is to:
- Compare plan specifications and resource allocations to actual day-of-event operations.
- Evaluate transportation system performance on day(s)-of-event based on stakeholder debriefings, customer feedback, and analysis of traffic and transit data.
The benefits of post-event activities are:
- Identify key successes and lessons learned;
- Provide valuable data for input into future planned special event feasibility studies; and
- Facilitate an iterative process of incorporating evaluation results into planning activities for future planned special events.
Potential steps comprising post-event activities include:
- Review and compile measures of effectiveness;
- Conduct stakeholder debriefing;
- Conduct event patron survey;
- Conduct public survey;
- Conduct a post-event debriefing meeting; and
- Prepare a post-event report.
Table 5-8 presents common internal (stakeholder performance) and external (identifiable by public) measures of effectiveness referenced in describing how well the traffic management plan worked and traffic management team performed.
|Internal MOEs||External MOEs|
Participant evaluation represents the first of three sequential products – followed by post-event debriefing and post-event report – of post-event evaluation. It involves obtaining first-hand observations of transportation system operations on the day(s)-of-event by traffic management team field personnel, event planners, spectators, and the general public. Methods for conducting participant evaluations at the conclusion of a planned special event include stakeholder debriefings, event patron surveys, and public surveys producing travel data and successes and lessons learned.
A post-event debriefing involves traffic management team stakeholders interactively reviewing what took place during the day-of-event. The debriefing examines what took place during the day-of-event and serves to compare team activities and operations to what was planned. Common topic areas include planning process, communications, traffic management at and outside venue site, plan revisions during event, traveler information, and perceived successes and lessons learned. Participating stakeholders engage in communicating multiple viewpoints contributing to the identification of what worked well and the determination of areas of improvement for future planned special events.
A post-event report represents a reference document – documenting planning products, actual day(s)-of-event operations, and post-event evaluation activities – but may serve as a working document (manual) if it recommends a planning process. The easiest way to organize the report may involve reviewing what took place chronologically. An alternative method involves dividing the report into subject areas, such as traffic management, traveler information, command post operations, and communications. Considerations in developing and organizing a post-event report include a) copy of original traffic management plan, b) chronology of event and team activities, c) analysis and summary of internal/external MOEs, d) operational cost analysis and funding issues, e) participant evaluation results, and f) list of recommended improvements.
If a planned special event is a repeat event, a comparison to the previous year should be made to determine any significant changes in attendance, traffic volumes, impacts on roadways, congestion, permitting compliance, etc. This information is helpful in planning the next repeat event for the following year.
Decision Maker's Role in Post-Event Activities
Table 5-9 presents the major efforts that should be considered in the decision maker's role in Post-Event Activities.
The decision maker should be aware of the benefits to the residents and businesses of the community that can be achieved from the post-event activities as shown in Table 5-10.