Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Decision Maker's Vision

The first five chapters of this document, Executive Summary: Managing Travel for Planned Special Events Handbook, highlight new and proven institutional and high-level operational techniques and strategies for achieving a coordinated, proactive approach to managing travel for all planned special events in a region in addition to facilitating successful and cost-effective management of specific planned special events.

The document conveys key information to decision makers and other senior level professionals whose agencies, departments, or organizations are involved in the design, planning, preparation, and management of travel for planned special events. These include transportation, planning, transit, law enforcement, and event organizers. The key information is presented to familiarize the decision makers with the concepts and procedures used by their technical staff so that the decision makers can be ready to assure that necessary steps are taken to achieve the successful management of travel for planned special events. Typically, decision makers possess the following backgrounds:  (1) little or no knowledge of the concept, importance, and challenges of managing travel for planned special events and (2) working knowledge of the issues and challenges in managing travel for planned special events and seeking institutional-level solutions toward effecting an expanded, efficient, and cost-effective approach to proactive travel management for planned special events.

This technical reference provides a working knowledge of the techniques and strategies that practitioners may use to successfully:  (1) plan for and operate a particular planned special event or (2) manage all planned special events in a region. In turn, individual managers and decision makers gain an understanding of the collective tasks facing multidisciplinary and interjurisdictional planned special events that managers and decision makers charged with developing and implementing solutions to acute and system wide impacts on travel during a special event may face. Transportation operations vary during a planned special event and identifying issues and advance planning activities if employed can successfully manage travel for a planned special event.

Table 6-1 indicates the purposes of managing travel for planned special events.

Table 6-1: Purposes for Planned Special Events
  • Manage intense travel demand.
  • Mitigate potential capacity constraints.
  • Influence attractiveness of alternative travel choices.
  • Accommodate potential for heavy pedestrian flow and transit vehicles.

Table 6-2 presents the major efforts that should be considered in the decision maker's role in supporting and guiding the agency's technical staff as well as members of the participating agencies to successfully manage travel for planned special events.

Table 6-2: Decision Maker's Role in Managing Travel for Planned Special Events
Function Decision Maker's Role
Overall Activities
  • Understand what a planned special event is.
  • Realize the major impacts on the transportation system that planned special events can cause.
  • Make sure that your staff realizes the need for a PSE Feasibility Study and traffic management plans, which present policy guidelines, procedures, strategies, and resource applications that assure the successful management of travel for PSE's.
  • Recognize the economic and tourism benefits to the community.
  • Foster your staff's use of the FHWA Handbook "Managing Travel for Planned Special Events" and the "Practical Checklists".
  • Encourage your key employees to attend and participate in the NHI Course "Managing Travel for Planned Special Events".
Planned Special Events Categories
  • Become familiar with each of the five categories and their characteristics.
  • Assure that your agency examines possible scenarios that can accommodate arrivals peaking rather than being spread out throughout the day that could turn a continuous event into a discrete/recurring event.
  • Foster regional coordination and regional interaction to advise of a planned special event and determine if other events are also occurring that results in multiple events as part of a regional/multi-venue event.
Planned Special Events Phases
  • Assure that your staff treats the five phases as an iterative process where the lessons learned from one event is applied to the first phase of the next planned special event.
  • Encourage your staff to refer to sections of the FHWA handbook "Managing Travel for Planned Special Events" and follow the step-by-step guidelines for each phase.
  • Require your staff to utilize the FHWA "Practical Checklists" to assure every step is considered.
  • Incorporate local and specific requirements of your agency to customize the "Practical Checklists" for the needs of your agency.
Achievement of Purposes
  • Foster the achievement of early, constant input and participation of involved agencies.
  • Emphasize the importance of predicting event-generated travel impacts to your staff.
  • Assure that your staff develops an integrated transportation management plan that can accommodate a range of traffic demand and other contingencies.
  • Ensure successful traffic management plan implementation by your staff.
  • Assure that your agency deploys a well-organized traffic management team equipped with the ability to communicate seamless between agencies.
  • Emphasize to your staff the importance of conducting continuous traffic monitoring on the day-of-event and maintaining protocol for modifying the traffic management plan to accommodate real-time conditions.
  • Transfer event management successes into daily applications, and translate lessons learned into future event planning and operations needs.
Planning Schedule
  • Assure that your staff develops a schedule of activities from time of event proposal to traffic management plan completion.
  • See that your staff sets deadlines for key planning products.
  • Emphasize the need to allow sufficient time for implementation activities and pre-event traveler information dissemination.
Event Impact Issues
  • Be aware of the issues and the ramifications of each event impact factors.
  • Make sure that your staff determines the transportation impacts of the planned special events.
  • Make sure that your staff determines the mitigation measures that must be implemented to accommodate the additional traffic generated by the planned special event.
  • Encourage your agency to develop and maintain a list of available equipment that can be supplied by your agency and other agencies, as well as can be rented or leased from private companies.
  • Emphasize the need to plan for and to expect the unexpected.
  • Recognize that special consideration must be given to managing staff resources for regional/multi-venue events where available staff may have to handle both of the planned special events as well as their day-to-day work responsibilities.
  • Consider actions to 1) acquire help from other agencies for staffing and equipment, 2) use volunteer staff, and 3) rent/lease equipment.
  • Make sure that your agency assembles all the key stakeholders at the earliest planning stages and continues their involvement in all five phases of managing travel for planned special events.
  • Understand the roles and functions of each stakeholder.
  • Foster the active involvement of stakeholders on a local and a regional basis.
Stakeholder Coordination
  • Assure that your agency fosters integration, which refers to achieving stakeholder cooperation and coordination across disciplines and jurisdictional boundaries. Interagency resource sharing represents a product of such stakeholder coordination.
  • Emphasize the need for adaptability, which concerns the ability of stakeholders to adapt to new roles and responsibilities unique to managing travel for planned special events. These new roles may involve changes in stakeholder authority compared to roles under other types of planned and unplanned events.
  • Establish transferability, which refers to maintaining continuous interagency communication, sharing of expertise to effect interagency training, and exchanging observations and lessons learned relative to stakeholder experiences.
Travel Choices
  • Foster consideration of travel choice alternatives by your staff when the feasibility study reveals capacity problems in the transportation system for a planned special event.
  • Use the media as well as the internet to advise of travel choice alternatives and their advantages as well as specific instructions and schedules.
Regional Planning and Coordination
  • Coordinate stakeholders serving an oversight role.
  • Establish a regional planned special event program.
  • Develop interagency agreements and legislation.
  • Establish a planned special event permit program.
  • Develop event permit regulations and guidelines.
  • Evaluate permanent and portable infrastructure needs.
  • Foster the use of checklists for event permit regulations and guidelines.
Regional Initiatives and Activities
  • See that ongoing programs and initiatives are used to address general planned special event needs on a continual basis.
  • Foster the establishment at a regional planned special event manual.
  • Promote the development of interagency agreements and legislation.
  • Be ready to meet with decision makers from other stakeholder agencies to emphasize the need for buy-in from each participating agency.
  • Encourage the preparation of a planned special event permit program.
  • Ensure that decision criteria and thresholds are used to determine the need to initiate a special event permit process in addition to event permit requirements.
  • Foster the use of checklists for event permit regulations and guidelines.
  • Support the discussion of control, leadership, and turf issues.
  • Foster the recording of personnel and equipment costs incurred by each participating agency throughout the operation, planning, implementation, day-of-event and post-event phases to determine total costs expended for use in estimating costs and funds needed for future planned special events.
  • Examine a number of possible funding mechanisms to recover costs expended.
  • Consider the extent and ability of each agency to provide all or part of requested support services.
  • Ensure that the key participating agencies negotiate with the event organizer to establish the fair share reimbursement and responsibilities that include permit application fees, mitigation costs, performance bond costs, a charge on each ticket sold, etc.
Event Operations Planning
  • Assure that the traffic management team assesses the risk where spectator or non-attendee behavior may cause overcrowded conditions in the vicinity of an event/venue and/or create unplanned road closure and traffic impacts (e.g., demonstrations, fan celebration after team championship victory).
  • Foster the development of contingency plans to address the identified potential of an unplanned circumstance posing a significant, negative effect on day-of-event traffic and transportation operations (e.g., weather, major traffic incident).
  • Make sure that event planning team has the flexibility to modify activities to create a dynamic and more effective planning process tailored to the scope of a specific planned special event.
  • Based on lessons learned from past special events at a particular permanent venue, check to see that the stakeholders consider programming new infrastructure or adopting new policies (e.g., parking restrictions) early in the event operations planning process.
  • Assure that event planning team repeats process steps for individual venue events comprising a regional/multi-venue event.
  • Encourage the event planning team to develop different traffic management plan components concurrently.
  • Make sure that the traffic management team establishes a planning framework and schedule.
  • Assure that past successes and lessons learned are considered.
  • Establish the traffic management team in the earliest planning stages.
  • Foster continued meetings throughout all phases.
  • Assure that the feasibility study is covered in sufficient detail to consider a range of possible impacts and associated mitigation to include variations in traffic generation, directional distribution, and modal choice.
  • Make sure that the Feasibility Study examines the beneficial impacts of establishing a free shuttle bus operation from remote parking lots to the event venue in order to reduce traffic congestion near the event site.
  • Support travel demand management goals.
  • Encourage event patrons to arrive early or leave late (post-event fireworks or concert) in order to reduce peak traffic demands.
  • Make certain that the traffic management plan examines the effects on agency staffing and agency resources.
Implementation Activities
  • Assure that the traffic management team develops an Implementation Plan that describes the what, when, and where in terms of personnel and equipment resource deployment.
  • Assure that the Implementation Plan defines personnel assignments that indicate the roles and responsibilities of individual traffic management team personnel on the day-of-event.
  • See how the traffic management team reacts to unexpected events not accounted for in the Implementation Plan by utilizing review and testing techniques such as a tabletop exercise held in a meeting room or exercises held in the field.
  • Assure that interagency communication is established and tested prior to the day-of-event.
  • Assure that appropriate training is held for temporary staff and volunteers.
  • Encourage the use of Intelligent Transportation Systems solutions such as existing Transportation Management Centers and their associated detectors, Changeable Message Signs (CMS), CCTV as well portable HAR, portable CMS, portable traffic management systems (CCTV, detectors, CMS), and mobile command posts.
  • Foster the consideration of latest technologies at the Command Post where 1) wireless and internet connections allow remote access to CCTV, CMS, HAR, and a portable traffic management system, 2) CCTV can be viewed at critical locations, 3) CMS messages can be changed via a laptop computer, and 4) HAR and CMS can be changed via a cell telephone call.
  • Foster successful ITS solutions that were used for a planned special event to be incorporated into day-to-day operations for emergencies and unexpected events.
Day-of-Event Activities
  • Consider how you, your agency, and your transportation partners can communicate and cooperate with your region's public safety agencies to ensure quick and effective resolution of incidents during a planned special event.
  • Require your staff to read the "Simplified Guide to the Incident Command System for Transportation Professionals" and share the document with your partners.
  • Accelerate staff efforts to become familiar with ICS language that enhances communications with other public safety/operations agencies that already use ICS terminology.
  • Assure that your staff and the traffic management team are ready to "expect the unexpected."
  • Make sure that protocol has been established to consider and implement traffic management plan changes based on the occurrence of real-time traffic conditions.
  • Assure that a media contact has been established to provide traffic flow conditions and updates on the changes to the traffic management plan.
  • Make sure that traffic data is collected on the day-of-event to provide traffic incident management support as well as for post-event evaluation.
Post-Event Activities
  • Require participation in post-event activities so that transportation is incorporated in the planning and implementation of planned special events.
  • Make sure that the results of the post-event evaluation are documented and made accessible in order to be beneficial for future planned special events.
  • For recurring events, assure that a file is established providing the cumulative benefit of lessons learned to help sharpen the traffic management plan developed for each new occurrence.
  • Encourage the application of lessons learned from the evaluation toward proactively improving travel management for all planned special events occurring in a region.
  • Encourage the traffic and parking data (arrival rates, number of occupants per vehicle, parking lot occupancies) be summarized so that it can be utilized in feasibility studies for future planned special events.
  • Foster the conduct of the evaluation to identify successes, lessons learned, improving future practice, and incorporating practices to mitigate problems encountered.
  • Encourage the use of successful approaches from a planned special event to everyday traffic management.

Table 6-3 emphasizes the Decision Maker's Responsibility to the Community by presenting aspects that can result in positive impacts to the region, city, locality and local citizens. The decision maker must keep each one of these community aspects in mind as the decision maker's role is completed for each event category and for all phases.

Table 6-3: Decision Maker's Responsibility to the Community

Decision Maker's Responsibility to the Community

Overall Activities
  • Assure that the normal activities of businesses and the day-to-day lives of the residents of the region continue while meeting the expectations of the event patrons.
  • Recognize that potential, major traffic impacts can be identified and mitigated by proper planning and implementation activities that will result in a successful traffic management plan with benefits to the community and region.
  • Select mitigation measures to convert potential negative impacts to positive impacts that are realized by the community.
  • Manage travel for a planned special event so that economic and tourism benefits to the community are realized.
  • Recognize that "showcasing" a successful planned special event could lead to increased future tourism for the community.
Planned Special Events Categories
  • Need to meet with residents and businesses to minimize impacts on adjacent roadways.
  • Need to notify all businesses and residents located near the event or on a traffic flow route of the event dates and times.
  • Need to minimize impacts on access to businesses and residents.
  • Need to consider parking restrictions or issuance of residence parking stickers so that event patrons do not impact residences by parking on residential streets in the vicinity of the venue.
  • Need to apply changes made in the traffic management plan to minimize community impacts for future events.
  • Need to identify ways to minimize community impacts and improve transportation system operations during future events.
  • Need to use public surveys to assess all community impacts and incorporate successful lessons learned to apply to the next event.
Planned Special Events Phases
  • Assure that the five phases are part of an iterative process so that lessons learned and successful approaches from the Post-event phase are incorporated into the Regional Planning and Coordination phase so that impacts to the community are minimized for future events.
  • Need to identify potential negative impacts on the community, in the Event Operations phase, and mitigate them in the Implementation phase to create positive impacts and/or minimal impacts to the community during the Day-of-Event phase.
Achievement of Purposes
  • Recognize that managing the potential, intense travel demand will achieve predictability for the public, businesses, and residents as well as all other transportation users.
  • Realize that safety can be assured to the traveling public and event patrons through more active traffic management and reduced motorist frustration.
  • Gain the input and support of local politicians who can advise of alternatives to minimize quality of life impacts on represented residents and businesses.
Planning Schedule
  • Adhere to all deadlines established so that activities are completed on time while allowing sufficient time to gain the input of the community and to disseminate information to them so they can modify their travel schedules to make sure their daily trips are not adversely impacted.
Event Impact Issues
  • Need to remember that the event impact factors have potential enormous traffic impacts on the community that can be addressed and mitigated in the preparation of a Feasibility Study.
  • Need to include the public (community residents, businesses, and associated community groups) in the Stakeholder Groups.
  • Need to include elected officials who serve the community interest.
Stakeholder Coordination
  • Need to assure that towing agreements include recovery services prior to, during, and after a planned special event to remove illegally parked vehicles affecting venue ingress and egress as well as residential and business parking needs.
  • Need to identify and mitigate impacts to the local residential/commercial area surrounding the event venue.
  • Need to initiate public outreach activities early in the event operations planning process in order to reveal important issues, such as parking and traffic concerns that local residents and businesses may have.
  • Need to use public involvement via meetings with residents, community groups, and local officials to improve community relations and day-of-event operations.
  • Need to meet the public's expectations.
  • Need to communicate with the traveling public to inform them of traveler's traffic information so they can make decisions on their trips based on current, real-time traffic conditions.
Travel Choices
  • Need to consider assigning event patrons to a particular route to a particular parking area in case capacity constraints on one of the routes is indicated in the Feasibility Study. Disseminating parking lot assignments and route assignments should be included in the mailing packet with the tickets for major events in order to enhance mobility, minimize congestion, and minimize community impacts.
  • Need to consider use of peripheral parking lots with a free shuttle bus operation to and from the event venue where potentially severe roadway capacity limitations and congestion are expected in the vicinity of the venue.
Regional Planning and Coordination
  • Need to include community interest stakeholders into the regional planning and coordination process.
  • Need to ensure that stakeholders review advance planning and operations activities to 1) minimize impacts on community quality of life, and 2) maximize potential social and economic benefits.
Regional Initiatives and Activities
  • Need to establish a regional planned special events program that is an ongoing process designed to address a region's needs for managing special events that leads to the following community benefits:
    • Development of relationships that will extend to other operational areas.
    • Better communication and cooperation that will help in areas such as incident management and construction coordination.
  • Need to assure that the locality can provide the resources of staffing and equipment necessary for managing travel for the planned special event by identifying the source of funding.
  • Need to develop and implement a cost program for the locality, City or agency for planned special events that includes personnel, cost management and cost recovery.
  • Need to initiate the actions for a cost management program listed in Table 4-6 so that funds the locality, City or agency obtains from cost recovery efforts can return to the Department.
Event Operations Planning
  • Need to identify potential negative impacts on the community, in the Event Operations Planning phase, and mitigate them in the implementation phase to create positive impacts and/or minimal impacts to the community during the Day-of-Event phase.
  • Need to include community interest stakeholders into the regional planning and coordination process so that they ensure and review advance planning and operations activities to manage event generated traffic for the purpose of 1) minimizing impacts on community quality of life, and 2) maximizing potential social and economic benefits.
Implementation Activities
  • Assure that the implementation plan defines traffic control points that restrict neighborhood area access to residents and business employees.
  • Need to develop signing and alternative route plans that direct customers to businesses and other traffic generators.
Day-of-Event Activities
  • Need to adopt a formal management process to ensure successful traffic management plan deployment and minimal impact to transportation system users (which includes the public).
  • Need to monitor the very fluid traffic situations to see how the plan is working and then determine what needs to be adjusted based on real-time traffic conditions.
Post-Event Activities
  • Recognize the responsibility to the community by conducting a public survey designed to obtain input on potential impacts of an event on affected residents and businesses located near the event venue and particularly located on local streets serving the venue.
  • Reach the public through 1) surveys mailed to residents and businesses in the area affected, 2) solicitations via websites, and 3) comments provided by phone or mail.
  • Apply survey results toward event evaluation and improving future practice in order to minimize impacts on nearby residents and businesses.
  • Use survey results as key input into planning (e.g., access and parking) for the next similar event or future events at the same venue.
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