Plan comprehensively to ensure a more effective staffing plan.
The United States and Canada's experience with Transportation Management Center staffing and scheduling.
Made Public Date


United States



Transportation Management Center Staffing and Scheduling for Day-to-Day Operations


A US Department of Transportation study, The Transportation Management Center Staffing and Scheduling for Day-to-Day Operations, provides managers, supervisors, human resource personnel, and private contractors with valuable insights for Transportation Management Center (TMC) staffing and scheduling decisions. The study addresses the concepts, methods, processes, tasks, techniques, and other issues related to work analysis, scheduling, and staff planning. Several methods for analyzing aspects of work are covered, including job analysis, workload analysis, and demand analysis. General scheduling practices, issues associated with shiftwork, and methods on how to create a staffing plan and planning for emergencies are also discussed.

Lessons Learned

The number of vehicles in the transportation system and the average number of vehicle miles traveled per day continue to increase at a greater rate than the expansion of the transportation system. Already, many road systems in major cities bear volume greater than their intended capacity. To meet these demands, TMCs are undergoing a number of fundamental changes, including the introduction of more sophisticated technologies, a shift to integrated operations (e.g., multi-agency, multimodal), and improvements to customer service capabilities. The increased demand for services and changes to TMC operations affects staffing practices.

  • Determine the number of employees required to staff a TMC. There is no formula that provides a calculation for the number of employees required to staff a TMC. The determination of the appropriate staffing level comes down to a judgment based on multiple factors, some of which may be unique to a TMC. Two important factors are the number of functions supported by the TMC and the workload associated with supporting each function. The list below provides a number of additional factors that impact staffing levels. The list below was designed for traffic signal operations, but many of the factors are applicable to TMCs with other operational capabilities.
    • TMC budget
    • Shift design and operating hours
    • Design and location of TMC facilities
    • Area of coverage responsibility
    • Type and operational reliability of the detection system
    • Type and complexity of traffic control systems (e.g., central vs. distributed)
    • Standardization and operational integration of control equipment and hardware
    • Frequency and type of traffic control systems deployed and associated degree of automation for status polling and corrective actions
    • Quantity and complexity of technology (e.g., VMSs, CCTV, video sensors, advanced or adaptive traffic controllers)
    • Type, stability, and complexity of the communications system and associated electronic equipment and hardware
    • Implementation of low-maintenance and easy-to-operate systems based on effective integration and system planning, design, construction, and inspection in support of quality system operations
    • Acquisition basis for signal system components and associated performance on a life-cycle cost basis
    • Integration and amount of sharing with other TMCs and other agencies
    • Institutional arrangements and organizational structure for integrated and inter-jurisdictional traffic operations and service delivery
    • Degree and complexity of interaction and coordination with other support agencies (e.g., the media, police, emergency services)
    • Operational strategies (e.g., fixed time, semi-actuated, full-actuated, time of day and day of week timing plans, traffic responsive, traffic adaptive)
    • Level of data collection automation in support of traffic operations and design
    • Response time requirements for corrective actions
    • Availability and comprehensiveness of predefined response strategies and timing plans for non-recurrent events
    • Quality of response and preventive maintenance programs
    • Community requests for design modifications to timing changes, signal phasing, pedestrian provisions, etc.
    • Support requirements (e.g., legal inquiries by law and insurance firms, rezoning applications, new developments, traffic impact studies, safety improvement studies)
  • Identify stakeholders when creating a staffing plan. Identifying stakeholders is an important step in creating a staffing plan. Stakeholders are people who have some interest in the staffing plan and include those who are needed to develop the plan, those who are needed to provide input about the plan, and those who are needed to approve, support, and promote the plan. In part, the staffing plan is developed for the stakeholders, and identifying their needs will help to determine actions that need to be carried out to develop the staffing plan. Identifying stakeholders also aids in selecting the right group of employees and managers who can develop and carry out the staffing plan.
  • Clarify all assumptions about the organization and the external environment. Due to future uncertainties, a certain number of assumptions must be made about future resources and needs. An important step in creating a staffing plan is to make it explicit and clarify all assumptions about the organization and the external environment. By identifying all of these assumptions, the staffing plan can be more easily revised when a change that affects the assumptions occurs. In addition, if the staffing plan fails to accommodate future needs, then the assumptions can be reviewed to determine where errors in prediction occurred and corrective actions facilitated. For example, a certain attrition rate of employees in a specific position may be assumed over the next 5 years based on the attrition rate from the last 5 years, and based on the assumed attrition rate 8 new employees may need to be hired over the next 5 years. However, if the wage of the position goes up, then the process of re-evaluating the probable hiring rate is facilitated by re-examining the assumption. Most likely the attrition rate will decrease, leading to a hiring need that is less than 8 employees in 5 years.
  • Conduct evaluations to ensure the continued success of the staffing plan. Evaluation of the staffing plan should be ongoing. Information (e.g., recruitment statistics, attrition and retention rates) should be continuously updated. The purpose of staffing evaluations is to ensure the continued success of the staffing plan. The evaluation should confirm that those who are responsible for certain aspects of the staffing plan follow through, and determine whether any changes need to be made to the staffing plan in light of new information. Finally, the changes that result from the staffing plan must be managed. It is important to manage the impact of the staffing plan on current employees.

To ensure a more effective staffing plan, the number of needed TMC employees should be established; stakeholder input should be gathered; an appropriate planning horizon should be determined; and assumptions about future uncertainties, resources, and needs should be clarified. When determining how many TMC employees are needed, the number of functions supported by the TMC and the workload associated with supporting each function should be taken into account. The staffing plan can be tailored more to critical stakeholder needs if all stakeholders have been identified and creating a planning horizon is helpful because it establishes to what level of detail a staffing plan can be written. Through identifying and clarifying assumptions about the future of the organization and potential external influences, the staffing plan can be more easily revised when a change that affects those assumptions occurs.