Managing and operating ITS as a regional endeavor is a challenge. The study "Getting More by Working Together – Opportunities for Linking Planning and Operations" provides some insights to help planners and operators understand the value of working together and realize the benefits of pursuing management and operations (M&O) strategies at a regional scale. The lessons contained in the source were derived from an extensive review of literature and discussions with nearly 30 transportation professionals involved in planning and operations at all levels of government.
Lessons were formulated around the following linkage opportunities between transportation planning and operations:
- The Transportation Planning Process
- Data Sharing
- Performance Measures
- Congestion Management Systems
- Funding and Resource Sharing
- Institutional Arrangements
- Regional Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Architecture
- Regional Management and Operations Projects
- Regional Concept for Transportation Operations
Greater coordination and collaboration among planners and operators can help to focus attention on investments that more effectively and efficiently address short-term and long-term needs. Stronger linkages, therefore, help both planners and operators do their jobs better. Ultimately, greater coordination and collaboration among planners and operators improves transportation decision-making and benefits the traveling public, businesses, and communities.
Sharing office facilities among stakeholders inspires enhanced collaboration. In some cases, office sharing is arranged intentionally because there is recognition that transportation agencies working in the same space may communicate more effectively. A common example is a traffic management center shared by traffic operators, transit staff, and public safety personnel. In this case, the planning and development of the facility functions to inform all stakeholders about the importance of regional coordination between practitioners.
- Recognize the need for a multi-jurisdictional operations facility. In 2001 the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) recognized the need for a multi-jurisdictional operations facility where transportation and emergency agencies work side by side to manage traffic, transit, incidents, and emergencies. MORPC conducted a feasibility and cost study, involving stakeholders in the identification of funding opportunities and in the development of an operational concept, functional requirements, and overall design of the facility. Following the study, the Central Ohio Regional Transportation and Emergency Management Center (CORTRAN) evolved into a collaborative effort between State, county, and city transportation agencies, as well as emergency and public safety agencies.
- Take advantage of unexpected opportunities to share office space. At times, sharing of facilities is not by design. Groups that typically work independently may be required to share office space due to funding or facility limitations. Some agencies that have found themselves unintentionally co-located have discovered that this makes an important difference in the degree of communication between practitioners. When planners and operators are co-located, they are more likely to communicate about their projects, develop new personal relationships, and discover opportunities to assist each other.
- Support multi-jurisdictional operations with funding and interagency agreements. CORTRAN has 50 to 60 full-time staff to control the Columbus Freeway Management System, to operate a transit computer-aided dispatching service, and to monitor video feeds of the local roads. The benefits of CORTRAN include improving incident management, coordinated emergency response, avoiding duplicate facilities, and providing a single source for media and communications. MORPC continues to support the CORTRAN effort by including it in the TIP with State and local funds, and by guiding the partners in forming an intergovernmental agreement.
In many cases, there is a tradition of agency and jurisdictional independence, and some practitioners may have never considered options for sharing facilities or equipment. This lesson indicates that multi-jurisdictional facilities enhance communication and collaboration among stakeholders. Even if a shared facility happens unexpectedly due to funding or space constraints, agencies still reap the same benefits. The ITS goals achieved by co-locating facilities include: improved mobility, increased efficiency and productivity, and customer satisfaction. The increased efficiency, productivity and professional ties that can grow from such cooperative arrangements suggest that this should be a more conscious part of institutional consideration.
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