About Organizing and Planning for Operations
Planning for operations is a joint effort between planners and operators to integrate management and operations (M&O) strategies into the transportation planning process for the purpose of improving regional transportation system efficiency, reliability, and options. It requires collaboration among transportation system operators, transit agencies, highway agencies, toll authorities, local governments, and others to facilitate improved transportation system operations. M&O strategies, also known as transportation systems management and operations (TSMO) strategies, are programs, projects, or services designed to get the safest and most efficient use out of existing and planned infrastructure.
- Traffic incident management
- Traveler information services
- Traffic signal coordination
- Transit priority/integration
- Freight management
- Work zone management
- Special event management
- Road weather management
- Active transportation and demand management
Planning for operations is driven by outcome-oriented objectives and performance measures. Rather than focusing on projects and investment plans, the planning for operations approach emphasizes first developing objectives for transportation system performance and then using performance measures and targets as a basis for identifying solutions and developing investment strategies. This is called the “objectives-driven, performance-based approach.”
Traditionally, transportation planning and transportation system operations have been largely independent activities. Planners focus on long-range transportation investments, including development of metropolitan transportation plans and programming of projects. Operators are typically more concerned with addressing immediate system needs such as incident response, traffic control, and work zone management. Planning for operations connects these two vital components of transportation and integrates operations considerations into the planning process.
Goals for the Planning for Operations Program
Organizing for operations involves mainstreaming Transportation Systems management and operations (TSMO) by making it a central part of an agency's mission and institutional structure. This is accomplished by advancing TSMO programs and projects within the agency and typically involves actions to improve the TSMO culture, workforce, collaboration, business processes, and approach to managing systems and technology in agencies. A specific guidance framework has been developed to help transportation agencies improve the effectiveness of their TSMO activities. The framework, the "Operations Capability Improvement Process," is based on self-evaluation regarding the key process and institutional capabilities required from a transportation agency (or group of agencies) to achieve effective TSMO. Other efforts that help support Organizing for Operations is TSMO Program Planning and crafting a compelling agency TSMO Business Case.
The goal of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Planning for Operations Program Area is to improve the performance of regional transportation systems through:
- An objectives-driven, performance-based approach to planning for operations.
- Enhanced collaboration and coordination between planners and operators.
- Effective integration of the congestion management process (CMP) and M&O strategies in the metropolitan transportation planning process.
What FHWA and FTA Do to Promote Planning for Operations
FHWA and FTA promote planning for operations among metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), State and local departments of transportation (DOTs), transit agencies, and other stakeholder organizations through guidebooks, case studies, workshops, courses, and webinars. The program has developed publications to promote planning for operations as a means to support many other areas such as livability and sustainability, traffic incident management, and regional intelligent transportation systems (ITS) architecture use.