Office of Operations
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21st century operations using 21st century technologies

Planning for Operations

An image of a sign: "Historic New Mexico U.S. 66 Route"

Planning for Operations is a joint effort between the FHWA Office of Operations, Office of Planning and FTA's Office of Planning, and was developed to promote multimodal planning practices that support 21st century transportation system management and operations. In order to link 21st Century operational services into the transportation planning and programming process, transportation planners and operators should have a common understanding of the mobility, safety, and efficiency benefits of linking planning and operations.

Planning for Operations includes three important aspects:

  1. Regional transportation operations collaboration and coordination activity that facilitates Regional Transportation Systems Management and Operations,
  2. Management and operations considerations within the context of the ongoing regional transportation planning and investment process, and
  3. The opportunities for linkage between regional operations collaboration and regional planning.

Linking planning and operations is vital to improving transportation decisionmaking and the overall effectiveness of transportation systems. Coordination between planners and operators helps ensure that regional transportation investment decisions reflect full consideration of all available strategies and approaches to meet regional goals and objectives.

Learn more about this joint effort by visiting the U.S. Department of Transportation Planning for Operations Web Site.


  • A Primer - Statewide Opportunities For Linking Planning and Operations (HTML, PDF 6.4MB) - This primer is designed to raise awareness of the benefits and opportunities for coordinating planning and operations activities within State DOTs, targeted at mid-level DOT planning and operations staff. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-08-028)
  • Advancing Metropolitan Planning for Operations: An Objectives-Driven, Performance-Based Approach – A Guidebook (HTML, PDF 977KB) - This guidebook presents an approach for integrating management and operations (M&O) strategies into the metropolitan transportation planning process that is designed to maximize the performance of the existing and planned transportation system. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-026, February 2010)
  • Advancing Metropolitan Planning For Operations: Set Objectives | Measure Progress | See Results (HTML, PDF 2MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-060)
  • Advancing Metropolitan Planning for Operations: The Building Blocks of a Model Transportation Plan Incorporating Operations - A Desk Reference (HTML, PDF 2.1MB) - This publication is a resource designed to enable transportation planners and their planning partners to build a transportation plan that includes operations objectives, performance measures, and strategies that are relevant to their region, that reflect the community's values and constraints, and that move the region in a direction of improved mobility and safety. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-027, April 2010)
  • An Interim Guidebook on the Congestion Management Process in Metropolitan Transportation Planning (HTML, PDF 853KB) - This Interim Guidebook provides information on how to create an objectives-driven, performance-based congestion management process. While the focus of this interim guidebook is on the congestion management process (CMP), the principles of objectives-driven, performance-based planning can also be applied to other aspects of regional concern (safety, economic development, environment, etc.) in an MTP. The CMP represents the "state-of-the-practice" in responding to the growing challenge of congestion on urban transportation networks. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-08-008)
  • Applying a Regional ITS Architecture to Support Planning for Operations: A Primer (HTML, PDF MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-12-001)
  • Applying Analysis Tools in Planning for Operations (HTML, PDF 1.6MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-001)
  • Applying Analysis Tools in Planning for Operations: Case Study #1 - Operations Strategy Impact Reference and Deployment Guidance (HTML, PDF 1.4MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-002)
  • Applying Analysis Tools in Planning for Operations: Case Study #2 - Incorporating Highway Capacity Manual Procedures into Long-Range Transportation Planning (HTML, PDF 1.4MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-003)
  • Applying Analysis Tools in Planning for Operations: Case Study #3 - Using Archived Data As a Tool for Operations Planning (HTML, PDF 2.8MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-004)
  • Applying Analysis Tools in Planning for Operations: Case Study #4 - Application of Microsimulation in Combination With Travel Demand Models (HTML, PDF 1.6MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-005)
  • Capital District Transportation Committee Albany, New York Case Study (HTML, PDF 323KB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-09-043)
  • Creating an Effective Program to Advance Transportation System Management and Operations: Primer (HTML, PDF 2.9MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-12-003)
  • Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission Philadelphia Metropolitan Region Case Study (HTML, PDF 306KB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-09-044)
  • Designing for Transportation Management and Operations: A Primer (HTML, PDF 2.9MB) - This primer is focused on the collaborative and systematic consideration of management and operations during transportation project design and development. This is termed "designing for operations." Effectively designing for operations involves the development and application of design policies, procedures, and strategies that support transportation management and operations. The consideration of operations needs during the design process requires transportation design professionals to work closely with those with expertise in transportation operations, intelligent transportation and transportation technology staff, planning, transit, freight, traffic incident management, and other practitioners from multiple agencies to fully identify, prioritize, and incorporate operations needs into the infrastructure design. This primer introduces the concept for designing for operations and describes tools or institutional approaches to assist transportation agencies in considering operations in their design procedures as well as pointing out some specific design considerations for various operations strategies. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-13-013)
  • Developing Decisionmaker Support for Management and Operations at MetroPlan Orlando (HTML, PDF 1.6MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-056)
  • Getting More by Working Together - Opportunities for Linking Planning and Operations: A Reference Manual (HTML, PDF 5MB) - This resource guide is designed to help planning and operations managers understand the value of working together and realize the benefits of pursuing management and operations strategies at the regional scale. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-05-016)
  • Getting the Most from Your Transportation System Investments: Operating for Peak Performance (HTML, PDF 1.1MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-030)
  • Integrating Demand Management into the Transportation Planning Process: A Desk Reference (HTML, PDF 22MB) - The document has been developed to serve as a desk reference on integrating demand management into the transportation planning process. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-12-035)
  • Making the Connection: Advancing Traffic Incident Management in Transportation Planning (HTML, PDF 2MB) The intent of this primer is to inform and guide traffic incident management (TIM) professionals and transportation planners to initiate and develop collaborative relationships and advance TIM programs through the metropolitan planning process. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-13-044)
  • Management & Operations in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan: A Guidebook for Creating an Objectives-Driven, Performance-Based Approach (HTML, PDF 1.79MB) - This Interim Guidebook is designed to provide a basis on which to integrate transportation system management and operations (M&O) into the metropolitan transportation planning process and to assist MPOs in meeting Federal requirements under SAFETEA-LU calling for M&O strategies to be incorporated into the metropolitan transportation plan (MTP). It highlights effective practices that result in an MTP with a more optimal mix of infrastructure and operational strategies, founded on the inclusion of measurable, performance-based regional operations objectives. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-08-007)
  • Metropolitan Transportation Commission San Francisco Bay Area Case Study (HTML, PDF 455KB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-09-047)
  • Operations Benefit/Cost Analysis Desk Reference (HTML, PDF MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-12-028)
    • FHWA Operations Benefit/Cost Analysis Desk Reference: Real-World Examples of Application of the Guidance (HTML, PDF 610KB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-13-006)
    • FHWA Operations Benefit/Cost Analysis Desk Reference: Conducting Benefit/Cost Analysis of Strategies Impacting Non-Typical Traffic Conditions (HTML, PDF 244KB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-13-005)
    • FHWA Operations Benefit/Cost Analysis Desk Reference: Providing Guidance to Practitioners in the Analysis of Benefits and Costs of Management and Operations Projects (HTML, PDF 1.1MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-13-004)
  • Operations Benefit/Cost Analysis TOPS-BC User's Manual – Providing Guidance to Practitioners in the Analysis of Benefits and Costs of Management and Operations Projects (HTML, PDF 4.8MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-13-041)
  • Outcomes-Based, Performance-Driven Planning at Metro Portland (HTML, PDF 2.5MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-055)
  • Programming for Operations: MPO Examples of Prioritizing and Funding Transportation Systems Management & Operations Strategies (HTML, PDF 1.4MB) - This document discusses how metropolitan planning organizations have incorporated transportation systems management and operations projects into the programming phase of transportation investment decisionmaking in metropolitan areas.
  • Regional Concept for Transportation Operations: A Tool for Strengthening and Guiding Regional Transportation Operations Collaboration and Coordination (HTML, DOC - 205KB) - This white paper is the first step in introducing and framing the idea of a Regional Concept for Transportation Operations. Subsequent work is planned, involving many stakeholders and interest groups to explore its implications and more fully develop its scope in various settings. The result will be more detailed guidance for developing and using a Regional Concept for Transportation Operations.
  • Regional Concept for Transportation Operations Fosters Planning For Operations in the Tucson Metropolitan Area Case Study (HTML, PDF 403KB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-09-048)
  • Regional Concept for Transportation Operations: The Blueprint for Action - A Primer (HTML, PDF 5MB) - A Regional Concept for Transportation Operations (RCTO) is a management tool to assist in planning and implementing management and operations strategies in a collaborative and sustained manner. Developing an RCTO helps partnering agencies think through and reach consensus on what they want to achieve in the next 3 to 5 years and how they are going to get there. The purpose of this document is to explain what an RCTO is, the development of its elements, and its applicability.
  • Regional Transportation Operations Collaboration and Coordination: A Primer for Working Together to Improve Transportation Safety, Reliability, and Security (HTML, PDF 4.98MB) - This primer was written for transportation professionals and public safety officials from cities, counties, and States who are responsible for day-to-day management and operations within a metropolitan region. It is intended to help agencies and organizations, and the operations people within them, understand the importance of regional collaboration and coordination, how it happens, and how to get started. (Publication Number: FHWA-OP-03-008)
  • Statewide Opportunities for Integrating Operations, Safety and Multimodal Planning: A Reference Manual (HTML, PDF 1.8MB) - This publication is a reference manual designed to provide "how to" information to assist transportation professionals in taking actions to integrate these activities. It identifies and describes opportunities at various levels of decisionmaking - statewide, regional, corridor, and project - and the benefits of these approaches. It also highlights overarching themes such as the important role of multidisciplinary teams; data collection, sharing, and analysis; and broad use of performance measures within each of these levels. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-028, May 2010)
  • The Collaborative Advantage: Realizing the Tangible Benefits of Regional Transportation Operations Collaboration (HTML, PDF 3MB) - This manual uses nine collaborative efforts across the U.S. to illustrate the tangible benefits gained through key strategies such as sharing resources and expertise, performing joint operations, using common operations procedures, and exchanging real-time information. The manual includes a six-step process to allow agencies to estimate their benefits of collaboration. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-08-001)
  • The Denver Region Traffic Signal System Improvement Program Case Study (HTML, PDF 324KB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-09-046)
  • The Regional Concept for Transportation Operations: A Practitioner's Guide (HTML, PDF 2MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-11-032)
  • The Role of Transportation Systems Management & Operations in Supporting Livability and Sustainability: A Primer (HTML, PDF 5.7MB) - This primer describes the role of transportation systems management and operations (M&O) in advancing livability and sustainability. The document highlights the connections between M&O and livability and sustainability objectives and the importance of a balanced, comprehensive approach to M&O in order to support those objectives. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-12-004, January 2012)
  • The Use of an Objectives-Driven, Performance-Based Approach at the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (HTML, PDF 1.6MB)
  • The Use of Operations Objectives and Performance Measures in Private and Public Organizations (HTML, PDF 82KB) - This paper examines lessons and insights from private companies and public organizations that may apply to agencies in the United States working to advance transportation planning for operations using a strategic approach. (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-10-029, February 2010)
  • Transportation Planning For Operations: Quick Guide to Practitioner Resources (HTML, PDF 919KB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-13-049)
  • Wilmington Area Planning Council New Castle County, Delaware and Cecil County, Maryland Case Study (HTML, PDF 340KB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-09-045)

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