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Fundamentals: How to Manage and Operate Transportation Systems to Support Livability and Sustainability

This section highlights nine key elements — “fundamentals” — for managing and operating transportation systems in ways that support livability and sustainability. Many of the activities described in the fundamentals are already part of transportation agency best practices, but may not be applied as part of a more comprehensive, balanced approach to advancing sustainability and livability in transportation operations. M&O strategies are rarely applied in isolation, and approaches from across the fundamentals should be combined to maximize the benefits to communities.

The fundamentals are:

Each of these fundamentals is described below, along with specific examples of their application in different communities across the U.S. and internationally. The individual M&O strategies identified in these sections are examples of good practices but are not fully comprehensive or ranked in any priority order.

Operate to Serve Community Priorities

The choice and implementation of M&O strategies should respond to community priorities, reflecting the community’s goals and objectives for the transportation system and its larger context as expressed through the planning process. These goals provide the basis for judging what is considered successful operation of the transportation system. By focusing on community priorities, transportation system operations can help a community achieve its broader goals.

Methods for Incorporating Community Priorities into Operations

  • Incorporate operations considerations into the planning process.
    Considering operations strategies during the planning process ensures that the strategies sync with long-term plans for the community.
  • Use context-sensitive solutions.
    This approach focuses on tailoring designs to community needs; operations can be part of this process as well.
  • Conduct public outreach around proposed operations changes and gather community feedback before and after to guide future changes.

Context is an essential consideration in determining how to operate the system. How a roadway operates should depend in part on its character—for instance, a major urban arterial, a small-town main street, a neighborhood street, and a scenic rural road will each have different characteristics, operating speeds, and levels of emphasis on elements such as integration of different modes.

This approach runs in parallel to the idea of context-sensitive design, which calls for transportation facility design to consider how the facility will fit within its total context (physical, aesthetic, historic, etc.). As with that approach, there must be a certain amount of flexibility in the application of traditional roadway operating standards and recognition that systems can still be operated safely while responding to broader community goals.

For example, the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) in the Albany, New York region has established congestion management principles as part of both its metropolitan transportation plan and its congestion management process (CMP). CDTC believes that what the residents of the region want—as articulated in the regional vision and as expressed though resident involvement in corridor and project-level studies—must help define how congestion management is applied in the region. A key element of this is the region’s decision to implement demand management strategies and operational strategies before capacity expansion when addressing regional congestion. The M&O focus is
also influenced by public opinion polling CDTC completed using surveys and public involvement. CDTC found that the public wants more bicycle, pedestrian, and other improvements and that travel time reliability (which can often be addressed through M&O strategies) is the most important congestion issue for travelers in the region.

Roadway operations need to be considered from multiple perspectives: the function a street provides within the overall transportation system, its users, and the communities through which it passes. The City of Pasadena, California, is developing a context-based street classification system to allow planners and operators to more easily identify the appropriate roadway treatments for the context and function of the roadway. This system builds on a long-standing
program of residential neighborhood traffic calming through the city’s Neighborhood Traffic Management Program. The program relies on outreach into neighborhoods to identify local concerns and to develop consensus on solutions. In recognition that improvements in one neighborhood can push traffic from one neighborhood to another, the program is now being expanded to take a multi-neighborhood approach to traffic management to improve the interfaces between local residential streets and major streets.

Collage of photos

Neighborhood Greenways Program

Portland, Oregon

To meet the city’s goals for increasing bicycle mode share, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has developed a network of “neighborhood greenways” (or “bicycle boulevards”). Neighborhood greenways use existing low-traffic, local roads to create high-quality bicycle and pedestrian facilities linking residential areas to schools, parks, and businesses. This program has used relatively low-cost M&O strategies to transform existing streets into a network of multimodal facilities that promote active transportation and neighborhood livability.

Studies to date show that the greenways are well-received by neighborhoods, increase bicycling and walking, and divert minimal amounts of through traffic to nearby local streets.

For more information:

Photo source: G. Raisman, PBOT

Sample Contexts and Priorities

Rural Areas

Pedestrian Safety Program

Miami-Dade County, Florida

Miami-Dade County has one of the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities per population for large metropolitan regions. To combat this, the county recently implemented a comprehensive pedestrian safety improvement program on eight high-crash corridors. The program focused on immediate implementation of low- and medium-cost treatments, including several M&O strategies; as a result, the total cost of the program was less than $1.1 million. Before-and-after crash data along the target corridors show that pedestrian crashes decreased by over 40 percent after implementation.

Source: University of Florida, Miami-Dade Pedestrian Safety Project: Phase II Final Implementation Report and Executive Summary, August 2008.

Urban and Suburban Areas

Increase Opportunities for Safe, Comfortable Walking and Bicycling

Walking and bicycling are central to sustainability and livability. These modes are low cost and broadly available. These modes provide many environmental benefits: they are non-polluting modes, their infrastructure requirements are less intense than other modes, and they can often be supported through existing infrastructure. Walking and bicycling also provide a variety of community benefits: they contribute to the health of individuals, encourage social interaction that strengthens communities, and support the vitality of retail districts and neighborhoods.

Green Light for Midtown and New Pedestrian Spaces in New York City

Two photos of the Broadway corridor, before and after improvements. The before photo shows inadequate pedestrian facilities, long crossings, multi-legged intersections, and confusing traffic patterns. The after photo shows a pedestrian-only area where there used to be a mix of pedestrians and confusing traffic patterns. Source: New York City DOT

Increasing opportunities for walking and bicycling can also involve recognizing situations there these modes are, or should be, the dominant mode. This can be done to attract more pedestrians and bicyclists or address issues with already high volumes of these modes. A high-profile example of this is the 2009 creation of pedestrian areas in Times Square and Herald Square in New York City that was completed under the Green Light for Midtown project.

The project was intended to improve safety, mobility, and livability along the Broadway corridor, which bisects the famous Times Square. The corridor suffered from inadequate pedestrian facilities that often led to people walking in the streets, long crossings and multi-legged intersections, and confusing traffic patterns. To address this, New York City DOT removed vehicular traffic from Broadway in Times Square and Herald Square, in coordination with other traffic changes to signal timing, roadway geometry, crosswalk shortenings, and parking regulation changes. Within the new pedestrian spaces, a variety of streetscape improvements were implemented.

Evaluations of the project found that one year later:

  • Vehicular travel speeds in most directions improved by three to 17 percent, including for transit buses.
  • Safety was vastly improved for all users, with pedestrian injuries down 35 percent, all traffic injuries down 63 percent, and 80 percent fewer pedestrians walking in the roadway in Times Square.
  • Pedestrian volumes were six to eleven percent higher in the two squares.

Source: New York City DOT, Green Light for Midtown Evaluation Report, January 2010.

While the basic infrastructure to support walking and bicycling—such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and shared-use paths—are important, the attractiveness and function of these modes is heavily affected by the management and operation of the transportation system. For example, traffic signal timing determines the amount of time pedestrians have to cross streets and how long they have to wait before crossings. Pedestrian countdown walk signals reduce confusion and help pedestrians make better crossing choices by informing pedestrians of the number of seconds remaining to safely cross the street. Along with infrastructure improvements such as wider sidewalks, pedestrian refuges in medians, and well-designed turning slip lanes (a turn lane offset at an intersection with a pedestrian refuge), pedestrian countdown signals can help make walking safer and more attractive. Similarly, incorporating bicycle detector loops at actuated signals ensures that bicycles will be able to safely cross intersections without undue wait, particularly in the off-peak periods.

Tubular channelizers
in Slater, Iowa
Tubular channelizers. Source: Hallmark 2007

Rectangular rapid flash
beacon on pedestrian sign

Rectangular rapid flash beacon on pedestrian sign. Source: FHWA, MUTCD,2008

Some key M&O-related strategies to promote walking and bicycling are:

San Antonio B-Cycle

Photo of bicycle share station at La Villita. Source: M. Grant

San Antonio B-Cycle was recently initiated with 140 bicycles at 14 locations located throughout the downtown areas. Individuals can purchase a 24-hour, 7-day, or annual membership. The program was implemented to improve travel choices, save travel costs, reduce motor vehicle travel, and support healthy living as part of implementation of the city’s Strategic Transportation Plan and Climate Action Plan. From the program’s initiation on March 28, 2011, through May 10, 2011, there were 4,357 bicycle trips through the program.

For more information:

Improve the Transit Experience

Improving travel choices by increasing the attractiveness and performance of public transit is a central component of making communities more livable and sustainable, especially in more compact cities and towns where transit can operate cost-effectively. The benefits of transit for communities are numerous. Transit helps reduce vehicle travel and congestion, leading to fewer criteria pollutant and GHG emissions. For individuals, using transit instead of an automobile saves fuel and parking costs and reduces wear and tear on vehicles. When riders can reduce car ownership as a result of transit and other transportation options, household savings can be substantial. Using public transit instead of driving can reduce stress for travelers, improving their overall quality of life. For a community, transit boosts social equity by providing mobility and accessibility to individuals who are unable to drive or have limited access to a vehicle. At a larger scale, by mitigating congestion and increasing vehicle occupancies, transit can help communities avoid costly roadway expansions.

M&O strategies can improve the transit-riding experience and help make transit more competitive with private automobiles. Within the context of M&O, bus transit is often a key focus because it operates in mixed traffic or shared rights of way.

M&O strategies for transit can be broken into several categories.

Roadway operations, which enable transit vehicles to operate more efficiently and reliably within and around general traffic. Strategies include:

Metro Rapid Limited-Stop Bus System

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles Metro has a system of rapid bus lines with limited BRT features that improve service compared to regular buses. Metro uses operational strategies to both improve bus travel times (by reducing delay) and make the service more appealing to new riders. These strategies include: Photo of a rapid transit bus stop. Source: H. Rue.

  • Transit signal priority at traffic signals.
  • Fewer stops and more frequent service.
  • Headway-based scheduling so riders do not have to consult schedules.
  • NextBus real-time arrival information at each stop.
  • Level boarding on low-floor buses.
  • A route structure that keeps routes as simple and straight-line as possible to help riders easily understand where buses go.


  • 23-28 percent reduction in transit travel time, with no impact on non-transit vehicle travel time
  • 38-42 percent increase in ridership, one-third of whom are new riders
  • Passenger subsidy per mile decreased from $0.18 to $0.15 and passengers per revenue mile increased from 51 to 59.7.

For more information:

Transit system operations, which concern transit vehicle operations directly and how they interface with transit users. Strategies in this area focus on streamlining operations to make transit operate more seamlessly for passengers and the system operator. Some widespread techniques for doing this include automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems and related software that track the location of vehicles and help dispatchers and drivers maintain route and schedule adherence. Other strategies include:

System-Wide Transit Signal Priority

St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission, St. Cloud, Minnesota

The St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission serves a small metropolitan area in central Minnesota. Following a successful pilot program, the entire traffic signal system in the area served by the agency was equipped with TSP equipment in 2003.

A 2005 evaluation of the found:

  • 42 percent reduction in buses that were late by more than 1.5 minutes.
  • 32 percent reduction in bus delay time at traffic signals.

With buses better able to stay on schedule, riders can make connections more easily and drivers can give passengers more time to board at stops, which increases customer satisfaction with the system.

Source: St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission, Transit Signal Priority (TSP) Deployment Project Final Report, 2005.

M&O strategies should be prioritized for high-frequency, high-capacity transit, which in many communities may be BRT. BRT commonly consists of a range of M&O strategies, with specialized vehicles running on roadways or in dedicated lanes to provide faster, more reliable, and more comfortable service more typical of light rail transit. When BRT vehicles are running in existing roadway lanes mixed with cars, trucks, and local buses, coordinated M&O strategies are especially important. When coordinated with an integrated traffic signal management system and real-time route information, such as Los Angeles’ Metro Rapid BRT routes (see box on page 17), buses can deliver faster, more reliable service without affecting other vehicular traffic.

Support Reliable, Efficient Movement of People and Goods

One of the fundamental aims of M&O strategies is to actively support efficient and reliable mobility for people and goods. Being stuck in traffic, particularly in unexpected delays, wastes time and fuel, increases air pollution, creates stress and frustration for drivers, and undermines the timeliness of freight pickups and deliveries. Particularly in congested regions and corridors, M&O strategies applied strategically can help to avoid the need for major capacity expansions that are costly and may not fit within community visions while improving mobility for people and goods and supporting improved safety, air quality, regional economic vitality, and land use efficiency.

To support livability and sustainability, it is important that M&O strategies fit within the context of community goals and focus on the full range of system users. This means emphasizing efficient movement of people and goods rather than just vehicles and giving greater emphasis to modes or techniques that accommodate safe movement for the least cost in terms of economic, environmental, and social costs and the value of different trip purposes. For example, allowing transit buses to operate on the shoulders of roads during peak periods can help maximize the throughput of people on a facility. Inter-regional and interstate freight and recreational movement are often key economic drivers in regions, and these trips can see significant travel time benefits from strategies such as electronic toll collection, incident management, and work zone management.

Reliability refers to the consistency and predictability of travel time for people and goods. It is estimated that more than half of congestion experienced by travelers is caused by non-recurring events, such as weather conditions, work zones, special events, and major incidents and emergencies that are not associated with overall infrastructure capacity.22 Predictable, consistent travel times are highly valued by all users of the transportation system,from freight operators to transit users to commuting motorists. In a 2008 study of the economic impact of traffic incidents on businesses using North Carolina interstates, roughly three quarters of the businesses stated that shipment reliability was highly important because of a just-in-time manufacturing or inventory process.23 For individual travelers, unexpected congestion on the roads can also be costly as well, such as for workers trying to get to jobs on time, travelers trying to make airplane flights, or for working parents who need pick up their children at daycare on time to avoid late fees.

Charm City Circulator

Baltimore, Maryland

Launched in January 2010, the Charm City Circulator has two routes serving downtown Baltimore and nearby residential neighborhoods. A third route is expected to launch sometime in 2011. The free service is targeted at downtown workers during the day and visitors during evenings and weekends. Buses operate every 10 minutes along linear routes designed to be easily understood. Routes are served by hybrid buses with distinctive designs and all stops are equipped with real-time bus arrival displays. As of June 2011, average daily ridership on the two routes was 7,700, far above initial ridership projections.

For more information:

Photo of a Charm City Circulator transit bus.
Source: Signe Renn and Mjach Designs

M&O strategies designed to improve system reliability also can support livability and sustainability by increasing safety, decreasing incidents, and reducing unnecessary delays that increase air pollution and create negative economic impacts on households and businesses. These strategies include the following, which may address all components of the multimodal transportation system:

Emphasis on M&O Strategies to Support Livability & Sustainability

Lansing, Michigan

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, the MPO for the Lansing, Michigan, metropolitan area, has found through surveys and other public involvement efforts that the public's highest priorities are maintaining mobility, preserving the system, and improving traffic flow through intersections and on major streets, while their lowest priority is system expansion. Given these results, the MPO is opting for a new approach to M&O that applies to all modes in congested corridors and considers a range of strategies, including road diets, traffic calming, ITS, more traditional traffic engineering treatments, and safety strategies. The MPO is also implementing approaches such as moving to continuous flow, lowering speeds, and reducing delays to optimize traffic while supporting livability, sustainability, and GHG reduction on principal arterials.

For more information:

In addition to improving reliability, M&O strategies can also promote livable and sustainable communities by contributing to efficient movement of people and goods on an ongoing basis, helping reduce unnecessary delay and minimize fuel consumption and costs. M&O strategies that improve system efficiency can help accommodate travel demand within the existing transportation footprint, reducing the need for roadway widening projects that can have adverse effects on surrounding communities, such as increasing barriers between neighborhoods in developed areas or injuring the beauty of the natural environment in more rural settings. Examples of these strategies include:

Manage Travel Demand

Managing and operating the transportation system to improve livability and sustainability means not only reducing unnecessary travel delays but also managing travel demand in ways that support more transportation choices and more efficient use of the transportation system. Transportation demand management (TDM) includes a host of strategies that encourage travelers to use the transportation system in a way that contributes less to congestion, improves air quality, and enhances quality of life. TDM covers many aspects of trip-making, including:

TDM addresses travel behavior and habits, seeking to influence travelers’ decisionmaking before and during trips. Urban planning and design can complement these M&O strategies by encouraging development that reduces the distance between destinations and facilitates access by all modes.

TDM in Rural Recreational Situations

Glacier National Park, Montana

TDM has a role to play outside of congested urban areas. In rural communities with large influxes of visitors, TDM can help manage demand to reduce impacts on the natural environment and surrounding communities while improving safety for residents and visitors. Glacier National Park is an example of how providing alternatives can do this. Since 2007, Glacier National Park has run a free shuttle system so visitors can safely travel through the park and avoid traffic and parking problems. In 2003, the park created the Red Bike Program to supply a fleet of bicycles for employees to use for work or recreational trips. The shuttles and bicycle fleet have expanded access, limited vehicular emissions, and reduced traffic by 20 percent. For more information, contact Susan Law, FHWA at

Lake Washington Corridor—State Route (SR) 520

Seattle, Washington

U.S. DOT’s Urban Partnership Agreement program includes implementation of four “Ts”: tolling, technology, transit, and telecommuting/TDM. One recipient of funding is the Puget Sound region, which will focus on the SR 520 corridor that links downtown Seattle to the Eastside area of Lake Washington. The project involves implementation of variable pricing on SR 520 to maintain free-flow traffic in the through lanes, discounted or free access for vehicles with three or more occupants, enhanced bus services, and real-time multimodal traveler information. The project also includes an active traffic management system that will be installed on SR 520 and I-90, which will consist of a series of electronic speed limit, lane status, and dynamic message signs over each lane on the SR 520 and I-90 bridges over Lake Washington.

For more information:

Commuter Rewards Program

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta has a commuter rewards program that since 2002 has offered participants $3 per day (up to $100) for each day they use a commuting alternative within a consecutive 90-day period. According to a 2003 survey, 64 percent of participants continue to use alternative modes 9 to 12 months after the program, even without an incentive. The program has experienced increased interest over the last several years, with more than 8,500 people enrolling in 2008—a threefold increase over 2007. The Clean Air Campaign in metropolitan Atlanta runs the commuter rewards program as part of a full suite of travel demand management activities. Overall, the TDM program prevents more than 200,000 tons of pollution annually in the region.

Source: Center for Transportation and the Environment, The Clean Air Campaign Cash for Commuters Program Survey: Technical Report, 2010.

Managing travel demand brings many benefits to communities and travelers. By introducing choice and flexibility into the transportation system, TDM reduces congestion and improves overall traffic flow. TDM also reduces stresses on transportation infrastructure by reducing both use of existing resources and the need to expand capacity. Reduced congestion and overall VMT from TDM strategies help to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, TDM reduces travel expenses for individuals by reducing gas consumption and reducing the time spent in traffic.

Sample strategies to manage travel demand include:

21st Century Parking Management

SFpark and ParkPGH

Real-time parking information can help reduce travel delay and emissions (and driver frustration) by reducing the need for drivers to circle around looking for parking. Two recent programs in this area are: Begun in 2010, SFpark is a demand-responsive parking pricing and management system. The pilot effort provides real-time parking availability information for on- and off-street parking and also incrementally raises or lowers parking prices based on demand to maintain a minimum level of parking availability. SFpark uses parking meters that accept credit cards and mobile device applications, text messages, and electronic display signs to help improve parking efficiency.

For more information, go to:

In Pittsburgh’s downtown cultural district, ParkPGH provides real-time information on available parking. An application, website, and call-in phone number all allow travelers to get current information on the number of available spaces in all nearby garages, with data updated each minute through a feed from the gate system at each garage. This makes it easier for the public to access cultural institutions and may reduce travel delay and emissions by avoiding searches for available parking.

For more information, go to:

Provide Information to Support Choices

Managing and operating a multimodal transportation system for improved livability and sustainability involves providing timely and accurate information to system users on transportation conditions. With a greater level of awareness, travelers and freight carriers can make better decisions about when or if to travel, which route to take, and which mode to choose. This contributes to livability through greater predictability of services, more options for avoiding delay, and a higher-quality travel experience. In addition, this information can save lives and reduce injuries by informing the public when road conditions are unsafe and enabling commercial vehicle drivers to locate available parking for critical rest periods. Providing traveler information that helps system users avoid congestion and facilitates taking transit, walking, and bicycling significantly supports environmental sustainability by reducing motor vehicle emissions and infrastructure needs. Traveler information is vital to managing the surge in travel demand for special events and is used to help attendees plan their travel before the event, en route to the event, and after the event. Traveler information is also crucial in diverting traffic or passengers during an incident, adverse weather, and active work zones.

Cross-State Traveler Information, North/West Passage Corridor (Interstates 90 and 94)

Interstates 90 and 94 between Wisconsin and Washington are major corridors for commercial and recreational travel. The extreme winter weather conditions prevalent in the states within this corridor pose significant operational and travel-related challenges. Through the North/West Passage Corridor, the nine States along this corridor are working together to address shared transportation issues related to traffic management, traveler information, and commercial vehicle operations along the corridors. Projects completed thus far include the development of a traveler information website for the entire corridor ( and defining a common set of phases to describe events (incidents, weather) that all States have agreed to use for the corridor. Previously, each State had its own phrases, which made sharing information across states more difficult.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) provides an extensive website that supplies travelers with real-time traffic flow data, estimated travel times, wait times on popular routes, and traffic camera images updated every 1.5 minutes. WSDOT also operates a 511 telephone service that provides contact information for rail, bus, ferry, and airline operators, as well as construction and traffic incident information. All of this information is managed through a state-of-the-art speech recognition program that allows callers to ask for specific information about travel times or traffic flow on specific highways.35 The Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition (NITTEC) provides a similar tool for travelers in its member jurisdictions in the form of a regional transportation information clearinghouse. In this case, partner agencies within NITTEC pool transportation information to provide travelers with comprehensive views of the region and a greater level of customer service than any single agency within NITTEC could provide.36 In Singapore, travelers can now access multimodal trip information from on their mobile phones with a public service known as MyTransport.SG offered by the Land Transport Authority. Using location-based service technology to detect the user’s location, MyTransport.SG provides real-time bus information, locations for light rail and premium bus service, and a trip planner that shows how to get to a destination via public transportation. For the motorist, it also provides real-time availability at parking lots in a number of areas, live traffic cameras, and up-to-date traffic information including locations of incidents and work zones.37

Changeable message sign. Source: Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH)

Comparative Travel Times for Car Versus Train

San Mateo County, California

On U.S. 101 in San Mateo County, California, variable message signs display real-time highway travel times to downtown San Francisco alongside transit travel times on the nearby Caltrain commuter train service. Transit information also includes the departure time at nearby park-and-ride stations. This information allows travelers to make modal decisions en route, depending on the conditions. The signs are an integral part of Caltrans’ multimodal integrated corridor management approach.

Source: Mortazavi et al., Travel Times on Changeable Message Signs, 2009.

In Japan, motorists can access real-time traveler information in their vehicles using the vehicle information and communication system (VICS). VICS uses roadside infrastructure to detect congestion and then broadcasts traffic information by character multiplex, radio beacons, or optical beacons to vehicles. It can be displayed in the vehicle as text or on a map.38

Support Placemaking

As both urban and rural jurisdictions increasingly seek development that enhances community vitality, the concept of “placemaking” continues to increase in importance. Placemaking emphasizes the connections between land use and transportation, as well as urban design and operations. Rather than just building roads to provide access and mobility, this approach to transportation planning, design, and operations emphasizes context-sensitive solutions that integrate transportation, building, and landscape design to create a “sense of place.”

“Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Put simply, it involves looking at, listening to, and asking questions of the people who live, work and play in a particular space, to discover their needs and aspirations. This information is then used to create a common vision for that place. The vision can evolve quickly into an implementation strategy, beginning with small-scale, do-able improvements that can immediately bring benefits to public spaces and the people who use them.”

— Project for Public Spaces

Through coordinated land use, design, and operations strategies, placemaking can help a community tell a story about its history and promote the type of development and transportation facilities that residents prefer for their community. Virtually no group of residents promotes a future community vision consisting of a transportation system allowing only for automobile travel or promoting higher speeds and vehicle volumes on local streets. As a result, placemaking generally supports development that focuses vehicle traffic on appropriate arterials, supports transit where feasible, provides a comfortable walking and bicycling environment to local destinations, and promotes livability and sustainability principles.

M&O strategies can work hand-in-hand with community development by improving roadway network connectivity, access management, reliability, safety, and land use and transportation coordination. As a result, M&O strategies can also play a vital role in developing unique places that support community vitality and reflect the desired character of communities. Successful placemaking often depends on selecting appropriate M&O strategies that complement planning and design efforts and that implement local visions identified through community outreach.

Specific M&O strategies that support placemaking efforts and also have beneficial impacts on mobility, livability, and community design include:

White Flint Sector Plan

Montgomery County, Maryland

White Flint was first proposed as an urban, mixed-use center more than 30 years ago, when Metrorail service was extended to the area. Although the area had ample transit access, White Flint's suburban street layout made direct connections between transit and other destinations difficult. In addition, pedestrian and bicycle conditions were poor and the Rockville Pike acted as a barrier in the community.

The White Flint Sector Plan aims to transform the area into a vibrant transit-oriented development through a variety of placemaking and management strategies, including:

  • Transforming Rockville Pike into a boulevard with street trees and improved crosswalks.
  • Developing a transportation network that includes a grid of new public streets and multimodal street hierarchy.
  • Improving the pedestrian and bicycling environment.
  • Adding bus priority lanes.
  • Promoting sustainable development.

Two artist's renditions, one of the White Flint Sector Plan (courtesy of the Montgomery County Planning Department) and the other of a cross-section of the White Flint Sector Plan (courtesy of the White Flint Partnership).

For more information:

Use Balanced Performance Measures

Caltrans Smart Mobility Framework

“Smart Mobility moves people and freight while enhancing California’s economic, environmental, and human resources by emphasizing: convenient and safe multimodal travel, speed suitability, accessibility, management of the circulation network, and efficient use of land.”

The Caltrans Smart Mobility Framework was developed through a partnership between Caltrans, the California Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. The framework establishes six Smart Mobility goals that are supported by 17 Smart Mobility Performance Measures. The goal of each measure is to demonstrate the relationship between specific land use and transportation decisions and consequent effects on economic, social, and environmental conditions.

The performance measures evaluated and targets used are tailored to address the needs of seven specific “place types” (e.g., urban, suburban, rural, special use). Certain performance measures, such as collision rates by mode, speed suitability, travel time, and consistency receive high priority for all place and facility types, while the priority of measures such as network performance optimization and speed management, may vary by facility and place type. Use of reasonable professional judgment is recommended when applying Smart Mobility performance measures.

For more information:

The performance measures transportation agencies use to evaluate a transportation system and the ways that these metrics are defined and measured significantly impact how the transportation system is managed and operated. Incorporating livability into transportation agencies’ performance frameworks necessitates rethinking auto-oriented mobility goals and measures. Effectively evaluating the impact of M&O strategies on livability and sustainability requires new performance measures that are focused on efficient movement of people and goods rather than vehicles and that consider the effects of the transportation network on the full range of livability and sustainability outcomes (e.g., social equity, economic impacts, environmental quality).

For instance, as part of the Federally-required CMP in metropolitan areas larger than 200,000 people, some regions are moving from traditional volume/capacity-based congestion measurement to a broad range of congestion measures that address community concerns, such as multimodal transportation system reliability, access to multimodal travel options, and access to traveler information.39 These measures help regions consider a broader range of solutions to congestion, including more M&O strategies.

When implementing these performance measures, agencies may need to find new data sources to consistently evaluate some measures. For example, many agencies lack the data to calculate multimodal level-of-service and travel time reliability measures.

Livability performance measures may be context specific and defined at the community scale. For example, the different needs of urban and rural transportation system users influence how they define livability and the priority they apply to different travel modes and performance metrics. Although specific metrics and methodologies vary by agency, livability and sustainability are generally implemented using the triple bottom line approach of measuring impacts related to economics, environment, and equity. Programs that have successfully integrated M&O, livability, and sustainability in their performance management process appear to share several characteristics, including flexibility or context sensitivity, public involvement in measure selection and development, multidisciplinary or interagency collaboration, and scenario planning or other practical applications of measures. Other key factors to consider when selecting measures include:

Table 3 illustrates potential M&O performance measures related to each of the livability principles of the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

Table 3. Potential M&O Livability Performance Measures
Livability Principle M&O Performance Measure
Provide more transportation choices
  • Multimodal Level of Service
  • Transit Accessibility and Coverage
  • Mode Share
  • Person Delay (rather than vehicle delay)
Promote equitable, affordable housing
  • Jobs/Housing Balance
  • Location Efficiency
  • Housing and Transportation Index (combined housing and transportation cost/affordability)
Enhance economic competitiveness
  • Travel Time Reliability
  • Workforce Accessibility
  • Job Accessibility
  • Travel Time Index
Support existing communities
  • Accessibility to Essential Destinations (e.g., stores, healthcare, schools)
  • Safety (crashes by mode)
  • Vehicle Speed Suitability
Coordinate policies and leverage investment
  • Consistency with Local Land Use and Transportation Plans
  • Return on Investment
  • Cost-Benefit Ratio
Value communities and neighborhoods
  • Connectivity Index
  • Community Character (e.g., resident satisfaction)

Collaborate and Coordinate Broadly

Creating livable and sustainable communities requires carefully balancing the needs of multiple segments of a population in the current generation as well as future generations to ensure a healthy, vibrant quality of life for all. To achieve this balance, these diverse perspectives must be heard and incorporated into the decisions regarding the management and operation of the transportation system through full collaboration and coordination of a broad range of stakeholders.

User-Friendly Resources to Promote Walking

Cover of 'Walk There!'

Published by Portland Metro Regional Government and funded by a health provider, Walk There! is a guidebook with 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver.

In the Netherlands, more than 300 companies, government agencies, and knowledge institutes joined together in 2005 as part of the Transumo Foundation to lead a transition toward sustainable mobility in the country. Motivated by the inefficiency of the current transportation system and the policies that impede sustainable development, the group began the TRADUVEM project to organize a broadly collaborative transition process that brings together traffic management and transition management professionals as well as other stakeholders to define what sustainable transportation should look like and how to achieve the transition to that vision. TRADUVEM is responding at least in part to a lack of integration between public and private entities, levels of organizational management, regions, and management and infrastructure planning that has held back widespread innovation in traffic management. The project aims to work toward innovation in traffic management and achievement of the following paradigm shifts:

In Portland, Oregon, the MPO hosts a Regional Travel Options Subcommittee of 20 agencies and stakeholder organizations that work together to “promote and support travel options to help cut vehicle emissions, decrease congestion and create a healthier community.”41 In 2008, the subcommittee helped develop the Regional Travel Options 2008- 2013 Strategic Plan that defines the goals, objectives, and strategies for the Portland region’s travel options program. Projects resulting from the plan receive funding through Metro’s transportation improvement program. This highly active program creates user-friendly resources for the community to encourage walking, bicycling, and ridesharing.

The management and operation of a regional or statewide transportation system also requires coordination and collaboration among multiple agencies and jurisdictions. A seamless travel experience for the public requires that operating agencies work together to provide comprehensive traveler information, coordinated traffic signals, and efficient management of incidents, special event, or work zones that affect neighboring jurisdictions. High levels of interagency collaboration occur throughout the United States, including the NITTEC, a consortium of 14 agencies in the Niagara region of New York and Ontario that have come together to work toward a common mission to “improve regional and international transportation mobility, promote economic competitiveness, and minimize adverse environmental effects related to the regional transportation system.”42 This ongoing collaborative effort and others are described in the FHWA report The Collaborative Advantage: Realizing the Tangible Benefits of Regional Transportation Operations Collaboration.43 By coordinating transportation management with regional partners, member organizations can improve the efficiency and reliability of transportation services while using fewer resources.

Coordination and collaboration can also occur at the project level. Coordinating neighborhood traffic management program studies and projects to address whole districts and the impact of the overall system is another opportunity to promote livable and sustainable communities.44

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18 Hallmark, Shauna, et al., "Evaluation of Gateway and Low-Cost Traffic-Calming Treatments for Major Routes in Small Rural Communities," for Iowa DOT and U.S. DOT, November 2007. Available at: [ Return to note 18 ]

19 U.S. DOT, FTA, Bus-Only Shoulders in the Twin Cities, June 2007. Available at: [ Return to note 19 ]

20 Dowling, Richard et al. Multimodal Level of Service Analysis for Urban Streets. National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 616, 2008. Available at: [ Return to note 20 ]

21 Boyle, Dan, Practices in the Development and Deployment of Downtown Circulators: A Synthesis of Transit Practice, Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 87, 2011. Available at: [ Return to note 21 ]

22 U.S. DOT, FHWA, Traffic Congestion and Reliability: Trends and Advanced Strategies for Congestion Mitigation, 2005. Available at: [ Return to note 22 ]

23 Khattak, Asad, Yingling Fan, and Corey Teague. "Economic Impact of Traffic Incidents on Businesses." Transportation Research Record Vol. 2067 (2008): 93-100. [ Return to note 23 ]

24 U.S. DOT, FHWA, Traffic Congestion and Reliability: Trends and Advanced Strategies for Congestion Mitigation, 2005. Available at: [ Return to note 24 ]

25 U.S. DOT, FHWA, Managing for Planned Special Events Handbook: Executive Summary, 2007. Available at: [ Return to note 25 ]

26 U.S. DOT, FHWA, Identifying How Management and Operations Supports Livability and Sustainability Goals, White Paper, April 2010. [ Return to note 26 ]

27 U.S. DOT, ITS Joint Program Office, Investment Opportunities for Managing Transportation Performance through Technology, January 2009. Available at: [ Return to note 27 ]

28 U.S. DOT, FHWA, What Have We Learned About Intelligent Transportation Systems?, December 2000. Available at: [ Return to note 28 ]

29 Greenough and Kelman, “ITS Technology Meeting Municipal Needs—The Toronto Experience,” Paper presented at the 6th World Congress Conference on ITS, Toronto, Canada, November 8-12, 1999. Summarized in the U.S. DOT ITS Joint Program Office, ITS Benefits Database. [ Return to note 29 ]

30 Hounsell, Nick, “Intelligent Bus Priority in London: Evaluation and Exploitation in INCOME,” Paper presented at the 6th World Congress Conference on ITS, Toronto, Canada, November 8-12, 1999. Summarized in the U.S. DOT ITS Joint Program Office, ITS Benefits Database. [ Return to note 30 ]

31 U.S. DOT, ITS Joint Program Office, “Integrated Corridor Management Systems.” Available at: [ Return to note 31 ]

32 Shaheen, Susan and Adam Cohen. Carsharing. Innovative Mobility Research, University of California, Berkeley. Available at: [ Return to note 32 ]

33 Economic Development Research Group, Inc., "Assessing the Economic Impacts of Congestion Reduction Alternatives," in Chicago Metropolis Freight Plan, Chicago Metropolis 2020, 2004. Available at: [ Return to note 33 ]

34 U.S. DOT, FHWA, Synthesis of Active Traffic Management Experiences in Europe and the United States, May 2010. Available at: [ Return to note 34 ]

35 U.S. DOT, FHWA, Livability Initiative Case Studies, July 2010. Available at: [ Return to note 35 ]

36 U.S. DOT, FHWA, The Collaborative Advantage: Realizing the Tangible Benefits of Regional Transportation Operations Collaboration, August 2007. Available at: [ Return to note 36 ]

37 Land Transport Authority, "PublicTransport@SG A Delightful Journey, A Greener Choice," 2009. Available at: [ Return to note 37 ]

38 Greenough and Kelman, “ITS Technology Meeting Municipal Needs—The Toronto Experience,” Paper presented at the 6th World Congress Conference on ITS, Toronto, Canada, November 8-12, 1999. Summarized in the U.S. DOT ITS Joint Program Office, ITS Benefits Database. [ Return to note 38 ]

39 U.S. DOT, FHWA, Congestion Management Process: A Guidebook, April 2011. Available at: [ Return to note 39 ]

40 Immers, Ben, Isabel Wilmink, Paul Potters, Transitions Towards Sustainable Traffic Management, 2007. Available at: [ Return to note 40 ]

41 Portland Metro, Regional Travel Options 2008-2013 Strategic Plan, 2008. Available at: [ Return to note 41 ]

42 NITTEC, Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition homepage, [ Return to note 42 ]

43 U.S. DOT, FHWA, The Collaborative Advantage: Realizing the Tangible Benefits of Regional Transportation Operations Collaboration, August 2007. Available at: [ Return to note 43 ]

44 Dock, Frederick C., "Pasadena's Next Generation of Transportation Management," ITE Technical Conference and Exhibit, 2010. [ Return to note 44 ]

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