Enhancing Transportation: Connecting TSMO and Planning
U.S. Department of Transportation
In the current environment of constrained budgets, State, regional, and local transportation agencies are looking for more efficient ways to reach their transportation mobility and safety goals, objectives, and performance targets. Greater inclusion of TSMO strategies within the planning process results in a mix of improvements that facilitate progress toward targets while improving communities. Most transportation agencies realize they cannot build their way out of congestion, especially in densely populated urban areas. TSMO strategies help planners address reliability issues and improve upon reliability performance measures without increasing capacity. Construction and rehabilitation projects remain important for transportation planning, but planning for the effective operation of transportation facilities is critical to making good use of limited transportation resources.1 TSMO investments can complement capacity expansion or rehabilitation projects and, in some cases, provide more timely and less costly alternatives for achieving desired improvements in mobility and safety.
Greater coordination and collaboration among planners and operators help span the differing planning horizons between them. Operators broaden their perspective to include a longer term vision for system performance and planners have a greater understanding of the shorter term planning needs for operations. This leads planners and operators to focus their attention on planning for TSMO investments that address both short-term and long-term needs more effectively.
Integrating TSMO into the metropolitan and statewide transportation planning processes increases visibility of operational needs and TSMO strategies when investment decisions are made.
The inter-jurisdictional and multimodal nature of TSMO requires collaboration and coordination among operating agencies across jurisdictions and between transportation and public safety agencies, private mobility service providers, and other entities in order to improve the security, safety, and reliability of the transportation system. Planners have often served as the conveners and facilitators for collaborative operations groups within a region and this can become an important avenue for integrating TSMO needs into the planning process.
The connection between TSMO and planning is increasingly critical to prepare for connected and automated vehicles. Addressing these considerations as well as the advances in intelligent transportation systems (ITS) requires a holistic approach to mobility planning because this is anticipated to significantly change the transportation system. Additionally, travelers will have more mobility options, including shared mobility and non-motorized mobility. Transportation planners and operators are looking at transportation less in terms of lane miles of capacity and more in terms of services that enable mobility for people and goods.
Figure 1 illustrates how planning for operations follows the same approach as the planning process and how TSMO can be integrated into the elements of planning. Functionally, this includes identifying reliability and operations issues along with other planning-related concerns early on and developing operations objectives and related performance measures during objective setting. TSMO strategies can then be evaluated alongside other strategies and included in the transportation plan and program. This approach can also be performed for other planning and operations activities such as developing corridor plans and strategic TSMO plans.
Source: Adapted from FHWA, Advancing Metropolitan Planning for Operations: The Building Blocks of a Model Transportation Plan Incorporating Operations – A Desk Reference, 2010. Available at: https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop10027/.
Opportunities Exist To Leverage the Strengths of Both Planning and TSMO:
How Has This Worked In Practice?
2 Texas Department of Transportation, Transportation Systems Management and Operations Statewide Strategic Plan, 2018. Available at: http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/trf/tsmo/tsmo-statewide-strategic%20plan.pdf. [ Return to note 2. ]
3 Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) Guidebook Part I: Planning, 2018. Available at: http://www.dot.state.pa.us/public/PubsForms/Publications/PUB%20851.pdf. [ Return to note 3. ]
4 Florida Department of Transportation, Guide Planning for Travel Time Reliability, December 2018. Available at: http://www.fdot.gov/planning/FTO/mobility/TTRGuide2017.pdf [ Return to note 4. ]
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration