Setting Operations Objectives
Operations objectives are critical components of integrating management and operations (M&O) into the planning process. They describe what needs to occur to accomplish a regional or statewide goal and what stakeholders plan to achieve concerning the operational performance of the transportation system. Objectives also help to determine selection of strategies and investments.
An operations objective should have "SMART" characteristics – Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, and Time-bound – and should be regional or multi-jurisdictional in nature. The process for setting operations objectives relies heavily on stakeholder participation and an understanding of the needs and desires of the public as they relate to congestion. Operations objectives typically place a focus on issues of congestion, reliability, safety and security, incident management, and work zone management, among other issues.
Operations objectives can be organized into two general categories: system outcome-based and activity-based. Operations objectives in the area of system outcomes tend to be high-level, cross-cutting, and outcome-oriented as opposed to activity-based. Activity-based operations objectives are focused on the activities of organizations or operators. These objectives are concerned with those inputs or activities (e.g., retiming traffic signals) that support desired system performance outcomes (e.g., reduced delay).
- Advancing Metropolitan Planning for Operations: An Objectives-Driven, Performance-Based Approach – A Guidebook (HTML, PDF 977KB)
- NCHRP Report 666, Target-Setting Methods and Data Management to Support Performance-Based Resource Allocation by Transportation Agencies
- The Use of Operations Objectives and Performance Measures in Private and Public Organizations (HTML, PDF 82KB)