Managing Travel for Planned Special Events
Frequently Asked Questions
A planned special event is a public activity with a scheduled time, location and duration that may impact the normal operation of the surface transportation system due to increased travel demand and/or reduced capacity attributed to event staging.
Planned special events include sporting events, concerts, festivals, and conventions occurring at permanent multi-use venues (e.g., arenas, stadiums, racetracks, fairgrounds, amphitheaters, convention centers). They also include less frequent public events such as parades, fireworks displays, bicycle races, sporting games, motorcycle rallies, seasonal festivals, and milestone celebrations at temporary venues.
The term planned special event is used to describe these activities because of their known locations, scheduled times of occurrence, and associated operating characteristics. Emergencies, such as a severe weather event or other major catastrophe, represent special events that can induce extreme traffic demand under an evacuation condition. However, these events occur at random and with little or no advance warning, thus contrasting characteristics of planned special events.
It is the foreknowledge of a planned special event that can be exploited by an agency to mitigate the effects of the additional traffic generated. Specific measures can be applied that would not be possible in a conventional incident. Temporary roadway and/or transit capacity improvements can be implemented in addition to other strategies to influence the utility of alternative travel choices. For instance, intense traveler information campaigns can change travel patterns to reduce volumes at the venue site.
Keys to successfully managing travel for planned special events include:
The operational characteristics of planned special events create the following five event categories:
4. What factors influence the severity of impact a planned special event has on transportation operations?
Planned special events can significantly impact travel safety, mobility, and travel time reliability. The scope of these impacts represents a function of several event operation characteristics, including attendance, rate of event patron arrival and departure, venue location, and adjacent roadway capacity. The effect and perceived magnitude of mobility and travel time reliability impacts vary by class of transportation system user.
The impact of a planned special event on traffic and transit operations depends on a combination of several dynamic factors. Key considerations include:
Planned special events pose a unique and diverse set of challenges to stakeholders charged with maintaining transportation system safety, mobility, and reliability. These challenges include:
Managing travel for planned special events emphasizes a program approach specific to planned special events. This approach revolves around distinct, chronological phases relative to advance planning, management, and evaluation activities. Individual phases include interconnected strategies to assist stakeholders in identifying needs and resulting operations and coordination strategies tailored to the characteristics of a specific planned special event:
Collectively, these strategies meet the challenge of managing travel for planned special events for a specific planned special event. Stakeholders must predict travel demand and efficiently utilize the excess capacity of the roadway system, parking facilities, and transit. They must also reach out to all road users, communicate travel information, and offer attractive incentives to influence traveler behavior and decision-making.
Integration of phases, from post-event evaluation to advance planning for future planned special events, creates a seamless process allowing for continuous improvement of transportation system performance from one planned special event to the next. This iterative process, where stakeholders apply successes and lessons learned from a particular special event to future events, meets the challenge of managing travel for all planned special events in a region.
Managing travel for planned special events involves advanced operations planning, stakeholder coordination and partnerships, developing a multi-agency transportation management plan, raising awareness of general public and event patrons of potential travel impacts, and coordinating agency services and resource sharing.
The goals of managing travel for planned special events are:
The proactive management of travel for planned special events yields numerous benefits to stakeholders and transportation system operations, including:
10. What opportunities exist to improve travel management for all planned special events in a region?
This level of advance planning, referred to as regional planning and coordination, involves the participation and coordination of stakeholders having an oversight role in addition to agencies directly responsible for event-specific planning. Products of regional planning and coordination include establishing new institutional frameworks, policies, and legislation to monitor, regulate, and evaluate future planned special events.
Key considerations toward facilitating regional planning and coordination for all planned special events in a region include:
Advance planning and day-of-event management of travel for planned special events involves stakeholders comprising three distinct groups. The oversight team involves stakeholders that deal primarily with program planning activities. These stakeholders include mid-to-upper level representatives of transportation agencies and law enforcement. Additional oversight stakeholders include elected officials, regional organizations, and other government agencies. The event planning team involves stakeholders participating in event-specific operations planning and implementation tasks. Stakeholders comprising the oversight team typically have mid-level representatives serving on the event planning team. Other stakeholders include the event organizer, media, emergency service agencies, private industry, and the public. The traffic management team involves stakeholders responsible for managing travel on the day-of-event. These groups include operations managers and field personnel representing transportation agencies, law enforcement, the event organizer, media, and private industry.
12. Why should public safety agencies be concerned with planned special event traffic management and control?
Public safety agencies (e.g., fire and emergency medical service) ensure adequate provision of emergency access routes to and from the event venue. These stakeholders, in addition to law enforcement and an emergency management agency, also work as part of the overall event planning team to ensure adequate pedestrian access routes and evacuation destination areas exist to meet emergency management plan requirements.
The practice of managing travel for planned special events incorporates advance planning, management, and evaluation activities encompassing five distinct, chronological phases:
The potential focus of regional initiatives and activities include:
Event operations planning concerns:
Key activities and products include:
Implementation activities concern:
Key activities and products include:
Day-of-event activities concern:
Key activities and products include:
Post-event activities concern:
Key activities and products include:
Regional planning and coordination for planned special events concerns proactively improving travel management for all planned special events in a region. Some key considerations include:
The development of a formal planned special event permit program marks a key program planning initiative for local jurisdictions to facilitate stakeholder coordination, compliance with community needs and requirements, and efficient event operations planning. Backed by guidelines and regulations specified in municipal ordinances, the program outlines a defined planning framework and schedule for event organizers and participating review agencies to follow. It represents an agreement between participating public agencies (e.g., transportation, law enforcement, public safety, etc.) to ensure, through planning activities or review, that all planned special events meet a set of mutually agreed upon requirements for day-of-event travel management. The program also defines the components of a permit application and associated permit approval requirements including recovery of public stakeholder expenses.
A planned special event traffic management plan indicates how traffic, parking, and pedestrian operations will be managed on the day-of-event. The plan contains strategies and tactics for mitigating travel impacts identified in a planned special event feasibility study analysis. A comprehensive plan consists of a site access and parking plan, pedestrian access plan, traffic flow plan, traffic control plan, en-route traveler information plan, traffic surveillance plan, and traffic incident management and safety plan. It should accommodate special considerations that may arise in conjunction with the needs of the various groups that either attend or have a direct interest in a planned special event. Such groups include event participants, spectators, event sponsors, dignitaries, media, street vendors, and non-ticketed visitors. In addition, the plan should consider contingency plans to help mitigate a potential systemic breakdown of the transportation system during an unexpected event occurring at or near the same time as the planned special event.
A traffic management plan indicates how traffic, parking, and pedestrian operations will be managed on the day-of-event. It accommodates planned travel demand management initiatives aimed at improving transportation system operations on the day-of-event. A proactive traffic management plan for planned special events prohibits individual transportation system components from impeding one another. It represents a flexible plan that can adapt to and optimize proposed transit service changes and travel demand management initiatives. A successful plan satisfies both the: (1) customer requirements of all transportation system users and (2) allotted budget for personnel and equipment resources assigned to the day-of-event operation.
A traffic management team includes operations managers and field personnel representing transportation agencies, law enforcement, the event organizer, media, and private industry. The following denote typical team roles:
24. What are the typical responsibilities associated with managing travel for a specific event of the traffic management team?
A traffic management team includes operations managers and field personnel representing transportation agencies, law enforcement, the event organizer, media, and private industry. It functions to:
Modifications to existing transit service for a planned special event represent strategies to reduce traffic demand on the roadway network serving the event venue. The focus of a public transit agency is to increase ridership during the event by increasing the attractiveness of the service that it provides. In many locations and for many types of planned special events, additional ridership to and from special event sites can provide substantial additional revenue for the transit agency at little additional cost. Also, transit system use may relieve traffic congestion around the venue.
Transit agencies may develop a specialized transit plan detailing schedules and necessary equipment and personnel resources. The transit plan may specify one of more categories of transit operation on the day-of-event that include:
26. What information exists on recommended practices specific to managing travel for planned special events?
The Managing Travel for Planned Special Events Handbook was written to assist responsible agencies in managing the ever-increasing number of planned special events impacting transportation system operations in rural, urban, and metropolitan areas. This handbook is available on the TMC Pooled-Fund Study web site at http://tmcpfs.ops.fhwa.dot.gov and the ITS Electronic Document Library (EDL) at http://www.its.dot.gov as publication no. FHWA-OP-04-010 or EDL Doc. #13883.
This handbook consists of 15 chapters, the final five of which detail and contrast advance planning and operations activities for each of the five defined categories of planned special events. Chapter titles are as follows:
Chapter 3 presents a high-level summary of managing travel for planned special events and identifies the key aspects of each step necessary to manage travel for a specific planned special event and all special events in a region. Chapters 4 through 10, which represent the core chapters of the handbook, encompass all five phases of managing travel for planned special events.
Yes. The appendix contains multiple examples of venue maps, traffic control plans, sample permits, interagency agreements, website screen shots, and event information brochures. Throughout the handbook, there exist examples of interagency coordination, successful event management ideas, resource applications, and best practices.
This handbook will lead practitioners step-by-step through all phases of managing travel for planned special events. It will:
Event operations stakeholders represent the target audience of this handbook. These stakeholders collectively work toward predicting, mitigating, and measuring the safety, mobility, and reliability impacts of a planned special event on transportation operations through comprehensive advance planning, day-of-event traffic management, and evaluation and monitoring activities. A traffic operations agency, law enforcement agency, and event organizer represent core stakeholders because of the responsibility they bear in developing and implementing a transportation management plan. Other key stakeholders include transit agencies and public safety agencies (e.g., fire and emergency medical service).
This handbook also recognizes a specific category of stakeholders, community interest stakeholders, who ensure and review advance planning and operations activities to manage event-generated travel for the purpose of minimizing impacts on community quality of life and maximizing potential social and economic benefits. Non-transportation agencies and elected officials play an important role in establishing policies, regulations, and initiatives for future planned special events. This handbook presents numerous strategies and initiatives aimed at mitigating impacts to: (1) residents and businesses in the vicinity of the event site and (2) non-attendee transportation system users.
To assist the reader in navigating the handbook, each right-hand page has a vertical toolbar that indicates the following sections: (1) overview, (2) advance planning, (3) day-of-event activities, (4) post-event activities, and (5) event profile. At the top of the vertical toolbar, the associated chapter number, one through fifteen, is stated. Information is also presented in tables, flowcharts, and checklists so users can easily extract information and identify issues, analyses, and products applicable to a particular category of planned special event.
Certain stakeholders may find the majority of handbook chapters pertain
to their duties and responsibilities when handling a planned special event.
Other stakeholders may only have interest in information disseminated
via a few handbook sections. This handbook recognizes three user groups,
each of whom has an identifiable icon featured in the handbook. These
user groups include: (1) transportation engineers, (2) law enforcement
officers, and (3) event organizers. If a major chapter section contains
topics suited to a particular user group, then the icon representing that
group will appear on the same line as the section heading.
32. What additional resources and tools are available to assist practitioners involved locally in planning, resource allocation, and/or managing transportation operations for planned special events?
The following resources are also available to facilitate outreach and awareness and to encourage the utilization and integration of the concepts, methods, procedures, and techniques contained in the handbook into agency programs and policies for effective travel management for planned special events:
A national conference on Managing Travel for Planned Special Events is targeted for late 2004. One can periodically check http://www.itsa.org/tsop.html or http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/eto_tim_pse/about/pse.htm for updates on this event.
National Highway Institute Course 133099, Managing Travel for Planned Special Events, is designed to support this handbook and will be available in 2005.
For more information on the Managing Travel for Planned Special Events Handbook and associated products, visit the TMC Pooled-Fund Study website at http://tmcpfs.ops.fhwa.dot.gov, or call the FHWA Operations “Help Line” toll-free at (866) 367-7487.
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