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U.S. Department of Transportation

Advancing Metropolitan Planning for Operations: An Objectives-Driven, Performance-Based Approach – A Guidebook

8.0 Getting Started

8.1 Steps to Getting Started: Planning for Operations Using the Approach

  1. Making the case to MPO decisionmakers:
    1. Identify the key regional challenges (e.g., congestion).
    2. Identify the constraints (e.g., funding, environmental) on traditional capital investment.
    3. Gain policy agreement on pursuing M&O options for MTP and TIP.
  2. Developing internal MPO leadership and advocacy for M&O:
    1. Design a structure appropriate to your MPO that establishes advocacy within the decisionmaking process (e.g., an M&O policy committee and/or an M&O technical committee).
    2. Ensure the full range of necessary stakeholders are at the table and invested in the effort.
    3. Develop a mechanism to allow for continual participation in the iterative process, which can help institutionalize the consideration of M&O.
  3. Gaining regional participation in integrating M&O into planning:
    1. Coordinate with transportation operators in the region to develop an M&O subcommittee or group that will build consensus on the direction for operations in the region.
    2. Identify what data is currently being collected in the region. Utilize participating agencies to obtain operations data to support development of operations objectives and performance measures.
  4. Developing operations goals and operations objectives for the MTP:
    1. Engage key operations participants in the region in developing the regional operations goals and operations objectives during the MTP update process, including State DOT, local DOT, transit, public safety, etc.
    2. Develop one or more goals that focus on the desired operational performance of the transportation system.
    3. Based on operations goals, begin to develop operations objectives that accurately reflect what the region would like to achieve and believes can be achieved within a certain timeframe. These operations objectives may start out as vague and then get "SMART" as part of an iterative process to define the operations objectives more specifically. Throughout this process, it is vital that the agencies necessary for achieving the objectives be committed to the resulting objectives.
      1. Initially focus on what to improve, such as delay, clearance time, etc.
      2. Select the area and time of focus, such as regionally significant arterials during peak hours.
      3. Identify what data is currently being collected in the region and may be available for tracking the objectives. Based on this information, make the operations objectives more specific and link them to performance measures.
      4. As fiscal constraints are applied during the development of the MTP, revisit the operations objectives to ensure feasibility.
      5. Collect baseline data for performance measures. Performance targets can be introduced into the operations objectives or adjusted with an understanding of baseline performance.
  5. Incorporating M&O strategies into the planning and programming processes:
    1. Identify strategies for achieving operations objectives and include them in the MTP.
    2. Be sure to include discussion of M&O strategies that are funded by State, regional and local transportation agencies, even without use of Federal funding, in the MTP.
    3. Develop a method to allocate funding to M&O projects. This may be done by competing M&O projects against all other types of projects, or the M&O projects may compete against each other for funding allocated through a line item reserved for M&O projects.

8.2 Self-Assessment

Agencies are at different levels of development in implementing an objectives-driven, performance-based approach. As the approach is scalable and can accommodate different levels of development, agencies should first begin by determining their own progress. The purpose of this section is to provide a tool for agencies to assess the extent to which they have integrated the approach to planning for operations at their organization. The assessment tool presented in Table 5 should be regarded as a starting point for integration of the approach and assessing the degree to which the operations goals and objectives have been integrated. It is not a comprehensive tool covering all aspects of transportation planning, but will help clarify certain areas and identify opportunities for future improvement.

Table 5: Assessment Tool to Measure Integration of an Objectives-Driven, Performance-Based Approach
 No Action to Date Beginning to Make Progress Partially Achieved Mostly Achieved Fully Achieved
Operations Goals and Objectives
Does our MTP have one or more goals that focus on the improved performance of our regional transportation system?
Does our MTP contain operations objectives that define desired system performance outcomes?
Are our operations objectives specific and measurable?
Have our operations goals and objectives been agreed upon by all our transportation system partners and stakeholders?
Is it realistic that we will achieve our stated operations objectives?
Do our operations objectives contain a timeframe for achievement?
Do our operations objectives include multimodal considerations?
Have we identified opportunities to build on our objectives as data becomes more available and performance trends become clear?
Performance Measures
Have we established performance measures that can be used to assess attainment of our operations objectives?
Have we assessed our transportation system’s performance
according to our operation objectives to see where improvements are needed?
Have we identified where we need additional data to support our performance measures and potential sources of that data?
Management and Operations Strategies
Have we identified M&O strategies to meet our operations objectives?
Have we engaged both planners and operators to identify our M&O strategies?
Have we formed a committee or other mechanism to identify/ prioritize our strategies?
Have we put together an inventory of current M&O strategies in effect within our region, including those not traditionally incorporated into the MTP planning process?
Have we clearly articulated how we prioritize our M&O strategies?
Does our MTP clearly identify M&O strategies in a manner that lets decisionmakers clearly see the level of investment?
Are investment decisions included within our MTP based on the best combination of capital investments and operations strategies (performance-based planning)?
Monitoring and Evaluation
Are we monitoring and evaluating our system performance on a regular basis?
Do we have a plan in place to re-evaluate our operations objectives and performance measures?
Have we regularly communicated our evaluation to our
Regional Collaboration and Commitment
Have we worked collaboratively with the leadership from the operating agencies in our region?
Have we engaged our non-traditional stakeholders (e.g., emergency responders, freight operators, business community) as well as our traditional transportation planning partners?
Have we leveraged our regional ITS architecture and/or ITS committees in our planning for operations?
Have we utilized a regional concept for transportation operations?

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