Integrating Operations into Planning and Programming

Communicating TSMO

Analysis and Performance Measurement

Regional Collaboration and Coordination

Organizing for Operations

Mainstreaming TSMO

Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) Plans

Congestion Management Process (CMP)

How Does TSMO Relate To ...

All Resources

Resource Type

Resources Helpful to ...

Policy and Regulations

Performance-Based Planning

Designing for Operations

Regional ITS Architecture and ITS Strategic Plans

Systems Engineering and ITS Project Development

Livability and Sustainability

Traffic Signal Programs

Corridor Management

Active Transportation and Demand Management

Transportation Demand Management

Traffic Incident Management



Two light-rail trains at station in urban area.

Transit Agencies

Planning for Operations is not limited to our roadway system. Transit agencies traditionally shoulder a range of M&O responsibilities and their role should be included in planning for operations. There are opportunities for transit to be involved in each stage of the objectives-driven, performance-based approach. Transit agencies help develop regional goals and operations objectives. They provide input for development of performance measures, and are a source of data for analyzing system performance. Transit often is an important strategy for addressing system operations issues, and transit agencies should play an important role in identifying effective transit solutions. Transit agencies contribute to plan development and should be a potential partner when it comes to funding and implementing projects.

M&O strategies for transit are similar to other M&O strategies in that they are designed to optimize transportation system performance.

They may involve improvements in transit travel time, reliability (e.g., on-time performance), customer access to information about transit services, or other approaches that improve the performance of transit or of other modes through transit.

Transit-related M&O strategies often utilize technologies, such as ITS, advanced vehicle location, communications technologies, traffic signalization, etc. They typically also involve coordination with various partners – these partners may include a set of transit agencies working together to better coordinate services, or may involve coordination between transit agencies and local governments, State DOTs, or others.

Examples of M&O strategies for transit include:

  • Transit signal priority (TSP) – Giving priority to transit at signalized intersections in order to help improve transit speed and reliability.
  • Bus on shoulders – Allow buses to use highway shoulders in order to bypass congestion and maintain transit reliability.
  • Bus rapid transit (BRT) – Faster, more efficient and reliable bus services, typically due to improvements in infrastructure (e.g., separate right of way), vehicles, and scheduling.
  • Real-time transit information (e.g., NextBus) – Providing information to passengers to provide more accurate arrival/departure information for buses and/or rail.
  • Regional bus schedule coordination – Coordinate among the various bus and/or rail services within a region to reduce transfer times, and enable more efficient transit connections.
  • Fare policy / technology – Implementation of regional “smart cards” that enable easier transfers between various transit services, as well as potentially payment for parking or other services.
  • Transit coordination for special events / work zones – For instance, implementation of additional services during periods of special events or highway construction.]

The Advancing Metropolitan Planning for Operations desk reference provides the foundation for understanding and applying the objectives-driven, performance-based approach to planning for operations. This is a process that transit agencies should be involved in. Section 3 of the desk reference contains information specifically for transit operations and management.

  • Advancing Metropolitan Planning for Operations: The Building Blocks of a Model Transportation Plan Incorporating Operations - A Desk Reference (HTML, PDF 2.1MB) - This publication is a resource designed to enable transportation planners and their planning partners to build a transportation plan that includes operations objectives, performance measures, and strategies that are relevant to their region, that reflect the community's values and constraints, and that move the region in a direction of improved mobility and safety. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-027, April 2010).

The Operations Benefit/Cost Analysis Desk Reference and Applying Analysis Tools in Planning for Operations documents provide support for the systematic analysis and evaluation of M&O strategies including transit management and operations as part of the transportation planning process.

  • Operations Benefit/Cost Analysis Desk Reference (HTML, PDF 4.16MB) - This Desk Reference is intended to meet the needs of a wide range of practitioners looking to conduct benefit/cost analysis of operations strategies. The guidance provided in the Desk Reference includes basic background information on benefit/cost analysis, including basic terminology and concepts and also describes some of the more complex analytical concepts and latest research in order to support more advanced analysts in conducting their analysis. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-12-028, May 2012).

The FTA sponsored a series of publications, supported by peer events and roundtables, called "Transit at the Table" that identifies ways for transit agencies to effectively participate in metropolitan and statewide transportation planning.

  • Transit at the Table I: A Guide to Participation in Metropolitan Decisionmaking (HTML, PDF 4.71MB) – Explores how transit agencies in larger metropolitan areas (more than 200,000 in population) could be more effective partners with MPOs in the metropolitan transportation planning and programming process. (Publication Number: VA-90-1004-04-1, December 2004).
  • Transit at the Table II: A Guide to Participation in Metropolitan Transportation Decisionmaking for Transit Agencies in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas (HTML, PDF 4.21MB) – Explores how transit agencies in smaller metropolitan areas (populations between 50,000 and 200,000) could be more effective partners with MPOs in the metropolitan transportation planning and programming process. (Publication Number: FTA MD-27-1004, June 2010).
  • Transit at the Table III: A Guide to Effective Participation in Statewide Decisionmaking for Transit Agencies in Non-Urbanized Areas (PDF 2.84MB) – Explores how transit agencies in non-urbanized and rural areas can be more effective partners with state departments of transportation (DOTs) and other entities in the statewide transportation planning and programming process. (Publication Number: FTA-MA-27-1013, March 2011).

The following case studies include transit as part of the planning for operations effort.

  • Wilmington Area Planning Council New Castle County, Delaware and Cecil County, Maryland Case Study (HTML, PDF 340KB) - A Performance-Based Approach to Integrating Congestion Management into the Metropolitan Planning Process (Newark, Delaware area) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-09-045, April 2009).
  • Capital District Transportation Committee Albany, New York, Case Study (HTML, PDF 323KB) - Placing the Congestion Management Process in the Context of Metropolitan Transportation Planning Goals and Objectives (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-09-043, April 2009).

Below are two publications that focus on aspects of planning for operations that readily incorporate transit strategies and concerns.

  • Integrating Demand Management into the Transportation Planning Process: A Desk Reference (HTML, PDF 31MB) - The document has been developed to serve as a desk reference on integrating demand management into the transportation planning process. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-12-035, August 2012).
  • The Role of Transportation Systems Management & Operations in Supporting Livability and Sustainability: A Primer (HTML, PDF 5.7MB) - This primer describes the role of transportation systems management and operations (M&O) in advancing livability and sustainability. The document highlights the connections between M&O and livability and sustainability objectives and the importance of a balanced, comprehensive approach to M&O in order to support those objectives. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-12-004, January 2012).
  • Transit and Congestion Pricing: A Primer (HTML, PDF 4.39MB) – Examines the interrelationships between congestion pricing and transit operations and use. Provides an overview of the key elements of congestion pricing, illustrates the multidisciplinary aspects and skill sets required to analyze and implement congestion pricing, and provides an entry point for practitioners and others interested in engaging in the congestion pricing and transit dialogue. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-09-015, April 2009).

By becoming involved in the development of a Regional Concept for Transportation Operations (RCTO), transit agencies can help to ensure that operational improvements also help to enhance transit services.

  • The Regional Concept for Transportation Operations: A Practitioner's Guide (HTML, PDF 2.4MB) - This practitioner’s guide is a collection of the observed successes and lessons learned from four metropolitan regions as they developed Regional Concepts for Transportation Operations. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-11-032, July 2011).