National Transportation Group Cites Bay Area As Gold Standard for Performance-Based Planning

The national advocacy group Transportation for America has released a new guidebook for metropolitan transportation planning that hails the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)’s use of comprehensive performance measures to guide planning and investment decisions as a model for other metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) around the country.

In The Innovative MPO: Smart Planning, Strong Communities, Transportation for America asserts that, “The gold standard in using comprehensive performance measures to guide planning and evaluate outcomes belongs to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the San Francisco Bay Area. While it represents the upper realm of current practice, MTC can provide inspiration to MPOs of all sizes.”

Transportation for America cites MTC as both an early leader in prioritizing maintenance of existing transportation assets with development of its StreetSaver pavement management program and as a pioneer in its use of regional data to ensure more cost-effective outcomes for investments identified in successive regional transportation plans.

“Prioritizing funding for future projects in this way,” write The Innovative MPO authors about Plan Bay Area, “ensures that limited resources met the performance targets that best address future regional goals. Through this new performance assessment framework, each individual project is judged on its own merit with greater transparency and accountability. One of the true innovations in MTC’s process was to award flexible federal transportation funding to the projects that performed the best as part of the evaluation process, while the ones that did not—even some of those with prior funding committed—were removed entirely from the plan.”

In addition to showcasing ways for MPOs to use data to make smart investments, The Innovative MPO includes six other areas of focus: creating effective and visionary long-range transportation plans; engaging communities in regional decision making; making full use of all available funding tools; collaborating with and providing technical assistance to local communities; incorporating freight movement into regional transportation plans; and engaging in other regional efforts such as disaster planning, workforce development and climate-change mitigation. The guidebook uses case studies to spotlight MPOs in major metro areas such as Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Philadelphia and Seattle as well as smaller areas such as Flagstaff, Ariz.; Missoula, Mont.; and San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Washington, D.C.-based Transportation for America is an alliance of elected, business and civic leaders from communities across the country advocating for state and federal support of locally-driven transportation solutions.