Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Improving Transportation Systems Management and Operations – Capability Maturity Model Workshop White Paper – Culture

6. Best Practice Examples

Several best practice example illustrate how agencies have advanced a TSM&O culture.

Performance Culture: The Gray Notebook – Washington State DOT. “Moving Washington” is Washington State DOT’s (WSDOT) overall transportation policy, intended to be embodied in its planning and programming. It includes principles for integrated investments in cost-effective solutions based on three strategies, tiered in order of priority to ensure cost effectiveness: “Operate Efficiently”; “Manage Demand”; and “Add Capacity Strategically.” The “Operate Efficiently” strategy is designed to:

“…get the most out of existing highways by using traffic-management tools to optimize the flow of traffic and maximize available capacity. Strategies include utilizing traffic technologies such as ramp meters and other control strategies to improve traffic flow and reduce collisions, deploying incident response to quickly clear collisions, optimizing traffic signal timing to reduce delay, and implementing low-cost/high-value enhancements to address immediate needs.”(Washington State Department of Transportation – Moving Washington.)

WSDOT’s focus on cost effectiveness is supported by its long-standing emphasis on performance measurement and reporting marked by the quarterly publication of The Gray Notebook series that provides performance tracking for asset and operational management. The origin of the notebook was an effort to increase public confidence in WSDOT by making the business case for transportation improvement through comprehensive performance reporting. The Gray Notebook includes information on the performance of various systems in general, some even on a corridor basis, and those where TSM&O strategies have been implemented and can be tracked. The publication is used for both internal and external purposes and includes time-series information about the cost and effectiveness of TSM&O investments and activities, as well as for capacity and maintenance improvements.

District-Level Programs – Florida DOT District 4. At the executive level, the Florida (FDOT) leadership has endorsed TSM&O in the form of both a strategic plan and business plan. In addition to major interregional facility improvements, strong programs are developed at the individual district level. Covering Broward, Indian River, Martin, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Counties (including Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach), District 4 has the most mature and comprehensive TSM&O programs in terms of applications, planning, and performance measurement at the district level. Due to long-standing leadership and staff technical expertise, the district has been a leader in the State in several areas. One is the application of incentive-based incident response (Rapid Incident Scene Clearance), first to freeways and more recently to arterials. The district also has defined a TSM&O network and developed both a long-range and short-term plan and program for an advanced traffic management system. In addition, benefit-cost outcomes are tracked, and the district publishes an annual report outlining its progress and accomplishments. The district also has sponsored its own transportation management academy.

Public Relations: The $1,000 Doug MacDonald Challenge Washington State DOT. – The former WSDOT secretary established a contest soliciting ideas for the best way to explain the unique challenges facing TSM&O to a skeptical public. The contest was won by a contestant who submitted a demonstration of rice flowing through a funnel. The contest achieved considerable local and national press coverage.

Major Statewide Public-Private TSM&O Performance Contract – Virginia DOT. Under a single performance-based contract, VDOT has both consolidated and outsourced much of its TSM&O activities under a single contract. This includes the operations of its five transportation operations centers, including floor operations for managing highway incident and emergency response, management, dispatching, and staffing of the highway safety service patrols, dispatching maintenance crews and conduct of field maintenance, managing high-occupancy vehicle reversible lanes and coordinating signal systems, and developing advanced traffic management systems. Key features of this arrangement are the emphasis on using outsourcing as a means of managing for consistency on a statewide basis, employing performance incentives for innovation and efficiency, and capitalizing on contractor flexibility and responsiveness – all while still retaining agency overall management control.

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