Regional Concept for Transportation Operations: A Tool for Strengthening and Guiding Collaboration and Coordination

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - coordination, land use - planning, ridership - commuting, mode - bus


Transportation operations, Teamwork, Strategies, Strategic planning, Regional planning, Priorities, Objectives, Managerial personnel, Holistic approach, Goals, Future, Coordination, Cooperation, Collaboration, Businessmen


A regional concept for transportation operations (RCTO) presents a regional objective and what is needed to achieve that objective within a reasonably short time frame, possibly 3 to 5 years. It is a description of the desired state for transportation operations presented as an operations objective accompanied by a set of physical improvements that need to be implemented, relationships and procedures that must be established, and resource arrangements that are needed to accomplish the operations objective. An RCTO is created out of ongoing collaboration, primarily between managers responsible for operating the transportation system on a day-to-day basis, such as those for traffic operations, transit service, and public safety. Development of an RCTO should include participation by the regional planning organization to ensure consistency with the region’s vision and goals. The scope of an RCTO reflects the nature of the collaborative activity. It guides the collaborative efforts of individual participants through a common approach to achieve a common objective. An RCTO can address a single service (e.g., traffic incident management, traveler information services, or electronic fare payment), a collection of related services (e.g., congestion management for arterials and freeways), or capabilities that cut across several services (e.g., wireless communications network, surveillance and control systems, or vehicle detection and locator systems). In addition, an RCTO can stimulate further collaborative activity, for example, expansion of incident management to include emergency management. An RCTO serves three important purposes: (a) presentation of an operations vision and direction for the future of transportation systems management and operations based on a holistic view of the region; (b) commitment from agencies and jurisdictions for a common regional approach to transportation management and operations, and (c) an opportunity to strengthen the linkage between regional planners and managers responsible for transportation operations by providing a coherent operations strategy for consideration in the planning process. An RCTO can be used as significant input into the ongoing regional transportation planning and investment process by communicating with transportation planners about regional management and operations funding needs.