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

Event Impacts and Stakeholders

Event Consequence Issues

Stakeholders responsible for planning and managing travel for planned special events must gauge the potential severity of a planned special event. Agencies must determine with certainty if a planned special event will affect or impede the normal flow of traffic and if yes, how much impact will the event have. Answers to these questions determine the scope of the transportation management plan required to mitigate event-generated impacts on travel in addition to the number of stakeholders that become involved in advance planning and day-of-event travel management activities. Planned Special Events will happen even if it has been determined that the effect will be great, especially when elected officials see that economic and other benefits to the community surpass the potential negative consequences. For such events the need to find ways to mitigate and manage the transportation demand will be even greater.

Flowchart showing the interrelation of PSE factors, including Travel Demand, Road/Site Capacity, and Event Operation, and considering Available Resources and External Factors
Figure 3-1: Planned Special Event Factors

Figure 3-1 presents factors influencing the impact severity level of a planned special event. Three core factors to consider include travel demand, road/site capacity, and event operation. When determining the level of impact each of the five stated planned special event factors has on travel, consider each of the following components:

  • Duration – temporal impact;
  • Extent – spatial impact or scope of area affected; and
  • Intensity – volume of impact.

Travel Demand

Travel demand refers to the expected number of event patrons and their arrival and departure rates. Key considerations in planning include (1) event attendance, (2) rate of event patron arrivals and departures, (3) modal split, and (4) vehicle occupancy. Modal split has a significant influence on the level of event impact, particularly on traffic operations. Modal split refers to the methods by which event patrons may travel to the event, which include via personal vehicle, transit, walking, or a combination of modes. A planned special event travel forecast involves estimating travel demand magnitude, travel demand rate, and modal split.

Road/Site Capacity

Road/site capacity concerns the available venue access and parking background capacity in addition to the capacity of roadways and transit serving the event venue. This factor addresses the concept: if a planned special event took place at a particular venue, then how much existing transportation system capacity is available to service spectators and participants traveling to/from the venue? Key considerations in planning include (1) available parking areas and site access points, (2) available traffic flow routes to serve event traffic, (3) roadway, parking area and site access capacity, (4) background traffic and transit conditions, and (5) site circulation. Capacity influences travel demand to a limited extent, as "seasoned" event patrons in some locales may choose to use transit to access an event venue, because of severe traffic congestion experienced in the past, although they may not represent regular transit users.

Event Operation

Event operation essentially defines the scope of travel demand, including market area, and may reduce available background capacity because of event staging requirements. Event operation activities refer to any aspect of operating the event or venue that impacts spectator travel to/from the event. Key considerations in planning include (1) expected attendance and market area, (2) event location and venue configuration, (3) event staging requirements affecting capacity, (4) security requirements, (5) advance information provided to event patrons, and (6) pre-and post-event activities affecting demand. In some cases, the event operator has control over event operation activities, such as venue opening time, dissemination of advance parking passes/information, and use of venue parking areas.

Available Resources

Available resources refer to the quantity of personnel and equipment available to plan for and conduct day-of-event travel management operations. A single major planned special event places demands on equipment and staffing of stakeholders' agencies. Furthermore, the occurrence of regional/multi-venue events or other unplanned events that occur at the same time may place a strain on the availability of stakeholder resources needed to manage a particular planned special event. The agency's available staff may have to handle both of the planned special events as well as their day-to-day work responsibilities. It is important to understand the high demand on resources these planned special events will have. The occurrence of regional/multi-venue events will happen and special consideration must be given to manage and supplement existing staff resources.

Some successful approaches include:

  • Gain help from other agencies for staffing and equipment;
  • Use volunteer staff; and
  • Rent/lease equipment.

External Factors

External factors include concurrent roadway construction activities on roadway corridors serving a venue, other concurrent events in the region, and prevailing weather conditions on the day-of-event. Weather conditions have a significant impact on attendance or the rate of arrivals and departures at some events (i.e., travel demand). For example:

  • Event patrons will attend an open-air sporting event in extremely hot weather, but patrons may bypass arriving at the venue early to tailgate, thus concentrating patron arrivals.
  • Rain events may flood unpaved parking lots and venue access roads, rendering them impassable and reducing available road/site capacity. Rain events may also cause sharp arrival and departure rates in addition to safety problems.

Decision Maker's Role

Table 3-1 presents the major efforts that should be considered in the decision maker's role in meeting the challenges pertinent to characteristics of event impact factors.

Table 3-1: Decision Maker's Role in 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.

The decision maker's responsibility to the community relative to the planned special events event impact issues is listed in Table 3-2

Flowchart showing that all stakeholders are interrelated. Stakeholders include Media, Transportation Agencies, Public Safety, Public, Government Agencies, Regional Organizations, Private Industry, Elected Officials, Event Organizer, and Law Enforcement.
Figure 3-2: Planned Special Event Stakeholders

Table 3-2: Decision Maker's Responsibility to Community
  • 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.


The advance planning and management of travel for planned special events requires the consistent involvement and coordination of stakeholders throughout all phases – planning, operations, and evaluation – of the event. Figure 3-2 presents common stakeholders, representing various disciplines and jurisdictions that play an active role in managing travel for planned special events. Transportation, law enforcement, and event organizers represent the core stakeholders typically involved in all phases of managing travel for planned special events. These stakeholders typically take the lead in organizing an event operations planning team and traffic management team day-of-event operations.

Functions of Stakeholder Groups

  • Transportation agencies own and operate the transportation system.
  • Law enforcement agencies facilitate event security and traffic control and enforcement.
  • Event organizers own the event and/or venue.
  • Elected officials serve the community interest.
  • Public safety agencies, such as fire and EMS, provide emergency services and advise on emergency access routs to/from the venue.
  • Media functions to disseminate traveler information and information on real-time conditions.
  • Private industry includes traffic engineering consultants and traffic control contractors.
  • Regional organizations include Metropolitan Planning Organizations that may oversee planning and implementation of multi-modal transportation management strategies.
  • Government agencies include a government office on planned special events or a participating emergency management agency for major, high-profile events.
  • Public represents community residents, businesses, and associated community groups potentially affected by the event.

Decision's Maker's Role in Relation to Stakeholders

Table 3-3 lists the major efforts that should be considered in the decision maker's role in meeting the challenges pertinent to stakeholders.

Table 3-3: Decision Maker's Role in Relation to Stakeholders
  • 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.

The decision maker's responsibility to the community relative to the functions of stakeholders groups are presented in Table 3-4.

Table 3-4: Decision Maker's Responsibility to Community
  • 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.

Organization and Coordination of Stakeholders

A stakeholder team charged with event-specific operations planning may initially organize through coordination among affected/participating transportation agencies, law enforcement, and event organizers. In identifying pertinent jurisdictions, this "event planning team" may consider contacting stakeholders within a certain distance of the event venue. Its roles and responsibilities include:

  • Consists of a diverse group of stakeholders;
  • Involves mid-level stakeholder representatives;
  • Develops event operations planning products, such as an event feasibility study, traffic management plan, and travel demand management initiatives, if necessary; and
  • Sets performance goals and objectives.

Elements of Stakeholder Coordination for Planned Special Events

Key actions for achieving broad stakeholder coordination during event operations planning include:

  • Develop working trust among stakeholders;
  • Establish interagency agreements;
  • Identify performance goals and objectives;
  • Achieve consensus on team actions; and
  • Eliminate jurisdictional barriers and resource and/or funding constraints.

Interagency agreements may identify common goals and responsibilities of partnering agencies. Interagency agreements include a joint operations policy, memorandum of understanding, or mutual-aid agreement between two or more stakeholders for the purpose of identifying stakeholder duties and responsibilities, team organization and command, resource sharing, and funding reimbursement. Some innovative policies and agreements include:

  • Standard street use event routes, including specification of starting and ending points, route, and staging areas for participant assembly and disbanding;
  • Toll facility congestion policy for suspending toll collections on turnpikes and other toll facilities during periods of heavy congestion; and
  • Towing agreements for securing on-site towing and recovery services prior to, during, and after a planned special event for the purpose of rapidly responding to and removing illegally parked/disabled vehicles affecting venue ingress and egress routes.

Considerations for establishing performance goals and objectives as part of initial stakeholder planning activities include:

  • Establish performance objectives specific to different classes of transportation system users (e.g., spectators, non-attendee road users, and transit users);
  • Identify impacts to the local residential/commercial area surrounding the event venue;
  • Identify measures of effectiveness and acceptable thresholds for traffic flow, safety, and parking operations; and
  • Use measures of effectiveness for day-of-event traffic conditions monitoring and post-event evaluation.

Decision Maker's Role in Successful Stakeholder Coordination

The success of stakeholders meeting the goals of managing travel for planned special events depends on three criteria: integration, adaptability, and transferability.

Table 3-5 lists the major efforts that the decision maker should consider in measuring and effecting successful stakeholder coordination.

Table 3-5: Decision Maker's Role in Successful 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.

Table 3-6 presents the decision maker's responsibility to the community concerning organization and coordination of stakeholders for the purposes of managing travel for planned special events.

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

The discussed criteria facilitates good management that, in turn, helps meet the needs of spectators and participants in addition to achieving satisfactory outcomes for each involved stakeholder.

Travel Choices

Typical Travel Choices

Common spectator travel choices to/from a planned special event include:

  • Personal automobile where associated considerations include route and parking selection;
  • Transit options including regular service and express/charter options; and
  • Alternative modes including walking or bicycling.

Influencing Travel Choices

Planned special event practitioners can optimize traffic operations by influencing (via traffic control, signing, and information dissemination) spectator route selection to/from the venue and choice of parking areas. Transit initiatives may reduce event traffic demand and optimize transportation system operations. Certain venue locations, particularly downtown areas, may attract significant walking or bicycle trips. Consider walking trips from nearby hotels or, for weekday events, nearby office buildings.

Flowchart showing the types of travel that are used in various proximities to an event. Is is split into Region, Site Area, and Venue; travel choices change from auto, transit, or limo/charter choices, to shuttles and walking as venue is approached.
Figure 3-3: Planned Special Event Activity Networks

Figure 3-3 outlines the various activity networks that may serve a planned special event venue. Each activity network describes the inter-modal movements and transfer points from origin to venue destination. Integration of the traffic management plan components involves meeting the service requirements of these activity networks. For example:

  • A pedestrian access plan must accommodate pedestrian trips connecting various modes of travel.
  • A courtesy shuttle bus operation may service both public transit stations and satellite parking areas within the venue site area.
  • Traveler information plans must account for all activity networks.
  • Impacts to non-attendee transportation system users occur on the regional level, and activity network components within the site area level impact local residents and businesses near the venue.

For smaller planned special events, the event planning team may target one activity network, such as improving automobile access to designated parking areas or improving public transit usage. For larger events, the team must coordinate and achieve seamless operation among several activity networks.

Special Travel Considerations

Table 3-7 lists the various groups that either attend or have a direct interest in a planned special event and may require special accommodations. Professional golfers represent an example of event participants who not only require secure transport but maintaining their travel itinerary is of critical importance. Dignitaries may travel using a motorcade, which may represent a planned special event in itself. Roadside street vendor activities during planned special events may impede traffic flow as arriving/departing spectators slow or stop to conduct transactions.

Table 3-7: Groups Requiring Special Accommodations
  • Dignitaries
  • Event participants
  • Media
  • Street vendors

Decision Maker's Role in Travel Choices

Table 3-8 presents the major efforts that should be considered in the decision maker's role in meeting the challenges pertinent to travel choices for planned special events.

Table 3-8: Decision Maker's Role in 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.

The decision maker's responsibility to the community relative to the planned special events travel choices are listed in Table 3-9.

Table 3-9: Decision Maker's Responsibility to Community
  • 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.
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