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

Organizing for TSMO
Case Study 12: Border Crossings

Executive Summary

Transportation systems management and operations (TSMO) provides tools for transportation managers to address safety, system performance, and reliability. TSMO is "an integrated set of strategies to optimize the performance of existing infrastructure through the implementation of multimodal and intermodal, cross-jurisdictional systems, services, and projects designed to preserve capacity and improve security, safety, and reliability of the transportation system."1 Through participation in the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) workshops, transportation agencies are working to better support TSMO programs. Deploying intelligent transportation systems (ITS), hiring internal information technology staff, and using performance measures for data-driven decisions are just a few examples of many activities a TSMO program can support.

Given the varying stages of TSMO adoption and advancement, the Federal Highway Administration identified the need for case studies to provide examples of common challenges and best practices for transportation agencies to learn from each other. This is one of 12 case studies developed to support organizing for reliability. This case study focuses on how applying TSMO to border crossing operations can improve operations and help reduce challenges faced by agencies, including:

  • Incorporating TSMO into existing processes and programs.
  • Managing freight.
  • Managing delay at borders.
  • Collaborating between numerous local and international agencies.
  • Managing ITS.

Two agencies with mature border crossing and TSMO programs were interviewed: Whatcom Council of Governments (WCOG) and Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition (NITTEC). Each agency provided information on how they managed border crossing challenges, their lessons learned, and the next steps to continually improve these efforts. Some of the best practices identified include:

  • WCOG's travel time algorithm improvements in collaboration with United States and Canada customs agencies.
  • WCOG's border model to simulate potential operational improvements.
  • NITTEC's involvement with multiple regional committees which discuss regional challenges and share best practices.
  • NITTEC's traveler delay messaging improvements in collaboration with international agencies.
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