Integrating Operations into Planning and Programming

Analysis and Performance Measurement

Regional Collaboration and Coordination

Organizing for Operations

Congestion Management Process (CMP)

Regional Concept for Transportation Operations (RCTO)

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Light-rail train passing through street intersection

Regional Concept for Transportation Operations (RCTO)

A Regional Concept for Transportation Operations (RCTO) is a management tool that assists in planning and implementing management and operations (M&O) strategies in a collaborative and sustained manner. Developing an RCTO helps partnering agencies think through and reach consensus on what they want to achieve in the next 3 to 5 years and how they are going to accomplish it in the region. The ultimate benefit of an RCTO is the improvement in regional transportation system performance that is realized when jurisdictions and agencies work together toward commonly held operations objectives.

The six key elements of a Regional Concept for Transportation Operations are:

  • Motivation ("Why"): Reasons for developing an RCTO based on regional needs, goals, or operational concerns.
  • Operations Objective ("What"): Desired near term outcome(s) in terms of transportation system performance and related performance measures.
  • Approach ("How"): Overall description of how the operations objective will be achieved.
  • Relationships and Procedures: Institutional arrangements, memoranda of understanding (MOUs), protocols, information sharing, etc.
  • Physical Improvements: Facilities, equipment, systems, etc.
  • Resource Arrangements: Sources and use of funding, staff, equipment, etc.

The following example regions have had success developing RCTOs:

  • Portland, Oregon
  • Tucson, Arizona Metropolitan Area
  • Southeast Michigan
  • Hampton Roads, Virginia

Read more about these sites' RCTO efforts here.


  • Regional Concept for Transportation Operations: A Tool for Strengthening and Guiding Regional Transportation Operations Collaboration and Coordination, White Paper (HTML, DOC 205KB)
  • Pima Association of Governments Case Study (HTML, PDF 402KB) - Regional Concept for Transportation Operations Fosters Planning For Operations in the Tucson Metropolitan Area
  • National Transportation Operations Coalition (NTOC) Webinar Recordings and Transcripts
    • November 1, 2011 - Regional Concept for Transportation Operations: Practitioner Experiences