Performance measures play an important role in transportation planning, project prioritization and decision-making. Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) have been tasked by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) federal legislation to develop short- and long-term transportation plans that include performance measures. Measures required by legislation are standard, uniform indicators for specific projects and entire metropolitan regions, and lead to MPOs implementing performance analysis serving as evidence of the productive use of taxpayer dollars toward public accountability. Agencies are in the process of responding to federal rulemaking in implementing and incorporating the required safety, infrastructure, congestion, system reliability, freight, and environmental performance measures.
This dissertation research includes a nation-wide survey and four urban transportation planning case studies. A survey response of 183 (45%) of the 405 MPOs across the country reveals when agencies began collecting federally mandated performance measures as well as additional non-mandated measures, how performance measures link to regional and state goals and priorities, what factors currently impede agencies from adopting performance-based planning practices, and where agencies are looking for examples, best practices, and data sharing. Only 12 out of the 183 responding agencies reported using all of the federally required measures. Larger MPOs are generally adopting more measures and introducing them earlier, and agencies located in the Northeast and Western states (where many of the larger regions are located) are generally ahead of regions in the South in implementing performance-based planning. Medium-sized MPOs show no discernable trend in responding to the federal requirements and have not adopted as many additional non-federally mandated performance measures as larger MPOs. Four case studies indicate the characteristics of MPO adoption of performance measures and provide examples of best practices. Many agencies reported a lack of resources – both monetary and in personnel – contributing to their inability to quickly and efficiently adopt new data-driven practices. Case studies reveal the varying levels of coordination between MPOs and state DOTs. Agencies demonstrating best practices in incorporating performance-based planning into their long-range plans in recent years are only now including the methods in short-term Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs). The survey results and case studies provide the most comprehensive data and research to date of MPO response to the MAP-21 performance measure mandates indicating state of the practice across the country and presenting best practice models.
Dr. Randall Guensler
Dr. Kari Watkins, Dr. Catherine Ross, Dr. Michael Meyer (WSP), Dr. Joshua Schank (LA Metro)