A U.S. Department of Transportation report, entitled Metropolitan Transportation Management Center Concepts of Operation: A Cross-Cutting Study, published in 1999, provides extensive information on operations at eight TMCs within the United States and Canada. While a primary focus of each TMC studied is freeway management, several are also responsible for traffic signal system operation and various aspects of transit system management. The study began with a review of existing published TMC operations material. The following eight centers, chosen for detailed investigation and documentation, represent a broad range in their systems’ size, age, purpose, and technical approach:
- Detroit, Michigan, Intelligent Transportation Systems Center
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin, MONITOR
- Long Island, New York, INFORM
- Boston, Massachusetts, Integrated Project Control System
- Houston, Texas, TranStar
- Phoenix, Arizona, TrailMaster
- Atlanta, Georgia, NaviGAtor
- Toronto, Ontario, COMPASS
Major issues challenging most existing centers, such as staffing and the relationship between operations and maintenance functions, were identified, providing potential TMC implementers and existing TMC managers with real-world examples of how their peers are addressing daily operational issues. Some of the lessons learned (e.g., underestimation of operator workload, transition from video monitor walls) are indicative of human factors issues which are concerned with the design of TMC system elements.
One area discussed is the design factors that influence long-term control center operations and maintenance. One important design factor is based on considering individual TMC needs and traffic realities when selecting the Transportation Management Center (TMC) location and creating the TMC design.
- Create the TMC physical design to maximize space advantages. Create adequate space for the TMC to allow for the most optimal use of current space and for possible future expansion. Space should be reserved for each agency within the TMC to serve as "home turf" so that it can comfortably address sensitive internal issues, away from other TMC residents. Furthermore, consider that future additions of agencies and functions may be added to the TMC as a region recognizes the benefits of the facility. It is also important to keep in mind that TMC are unique facilities, and architects and engineers without familiarity with particular uses of the TMC may be likely to make design errors that will create operational difficulties or require expensive rework.
- Locate centers where there is provision for easy access to the interstate network that they are responsible for. Two TMCs examined were located in congested downtown areas that hindered quick access to the highway network. All centers noted that locations that allow for convenient access of both passenger and large and less maneuverable vehicles are valuable.
- Maximize value by considering co-location for multiple elements of ITS. TMC facilities can gain from designs that possess laboratory and testing facilities for evaluation of new equipment, testing of new or repaired units, and debugging interfaces between the equipment and computer and communications systems.
To most effectively meet the current and future needs of the TMC, thought should be given to the location and building layout of the TMC. Centers should avoid locating in areas without quick access to the interstate network they cover. In addition, space considerations should be taken into account for both current and future use. Addressing the two concerns of strategic locale and optimal physical design will allow TMCs to be more productive and efficient with their operations.