Advancing Transportation Systems Management and Operations through Scenario Planning
Section 6: Getting Started
Through the six-step approach described in Section 3, transportation systems management and operations (TSMO) staff at metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) and departments of transportation (DOT) can organize a thoughtful, collaborative process for engaging partner agencies, organizations, private sector interests, stakeholders, and the general public in considering TSMO-related issues and opportunities. Below are a few key questions to consider when "mapping out" a scenario planning effort for TSMO.
Scenario analysis methods are useful tools for examining the increasingly complex interplay of issues, technologies, and stakeholders involved in developing plans and making decisions regarding TSMO. This also holds when TMSO strategies are considered within the context of a broader planning initiative. Over the past decade, the level of interest in TSMO among transportation officials and public decisionmakers has risen due to an increased emphasis on developing cost-effective, performance-driven transportation solutions that optimize increasingly sophisticated technologies. State DOTs and MPOs that traditionally focused planning efforts on long-range capital investments are now elevating TSMO to a top priority in order to increase operational capabilities of existing systems. MPOs are spearheading regional collaboration for TSMO by bringing together stakeholders from State, regional, and local public and private transportation agencies and interests. Local governments, which are typically responsible for operating traffic signals, transit services, road maintenance, snow removal, local policing, and other services, are increasingly involved in regional efforts as TSMO strategies become part of corridor, local, and subarea plans. The private sector is also playing a major role in influencing traveler behavior and system operations by providing real-time traveler data to handheld devices. By engaging multiple agencies, jurisdictions, stakeholders, and the private sector, scenario planning can function as a useful framework for bringing together a wide variety of stakeholders to consider a complex array of inter-related issues and concerns, and to identify ways in which they might work together to leverage resources toward mutually beneficial solutions.
The results of planning for TSMO influence activities such as signal coordination, incident management, congestion pricing, and ridesharing programs; technology infrastructure; data gathering needs; and others. Advances in vehicle and infrastructure technology and communication systems are introducing new paradigms for improving travel safety and efficiency by coordinating interactions among infrastructure, vehicles, operators, and human behaviors. The continuing evolution of public policies in response to changing community goals and traveler behavior is creating the need to identify new measures of effectiveness for TSMO. Scenario planning methods can help agencies responsible for TSMO to explore the potential opportunities and impacts associated with new and emerging technologies before they are deployed. Scenario planning can also help an operating agency and its partners to optimize their strategy for maintaining safe, efficient travel in an area where some changes are likely but not yet fully defined. In addition, scenarios can help demonstrate the specific TSMO strategies necessary to support community goals relative to creating more effective multimodal transportation systems.
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration