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

Advancing Transportation Systems Management and Operations Through Scenario Planning

Transmittal Letter

USDOT triskelion logo.
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, D.C. 20590

November 17, 2015

Dear Colleagues:

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) supports the use of scenario planning as a valuable resource for developing robust long-range, multimodal transportation plans. Scenario planning is an enhancement of the planning process that enables more effective decisions by formally considering the "what-ifs?" of tomorrow to support a more resilient and desirable future. While scenario planning is widely recognized as a valuable resource in this regard, FHWA believes that scenario planning also has potential to be an equally useful tool for advancing longer term approaches to the way we want to have our transportation systems managed and operated in the face of changing demands, situations, conditions, and perspectives.

Planning for the way that we want to manage and operate the transportation system is uniquely tied to several factors that are often difficult to predict. For example, travel information, smartphones, and connected vehicle systems may have a significant effect on the way we manage and operate our systems over the next several years. Scenario planning methods can help planners and system managers examine the expanding interplay of issues, technologies, and stakeholders involved in making our transportation systems work more reliably, safely, and effectively. Scenario planning provides a structured approach for consensus-building among multiple agencies, jurisdictions, and stakeholders.

Through this primer, FHWA capitalizes on the strengths of scenario planning and applies its principles to advancing better longer term approaches to the way we want our transportation systems to be managed and operated. It is intended to assist planners, operators, and other partners to make more robust decisions and plans. We look forward to receiving your feedback, reactions, and experience with these concepts. Please direct any comments or suggestions to Mr. Wayne Berman at or 202-366-4069. To download a copy of this report or learn more about the Planning for Operations program, please visit For more information on FHWA's overall Scenario Planning Program, please visit or contact Ms. Rae Keasler at or 202-366-0329.

Sincerely yours,

Signature: Robert Arnold

Robert Arnold
Director, Office of Transportation Management

Signature: Kenneth Petty

Kenneth N. Petty II
Director, Office of Planning

Office of Operations