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Planning and Operations Fall 2005 Analysis Tools User Survey Initial Results. Mitretek Systems For The Federal Highway Administration Office of Transportation Management (HOTM) 18 November 2005. Overview.

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Planning and Operations Fall 2005 Analysis Tools User Survey Initial Results

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Planning and OperationsFall 2005 Analysis Tools User SurveyInitial Results

Mitretek Systems


The Federal Highway Administration

Office of Transportation Management (HOTM)

18 November 2005


  • Conducted for the FHWA Office of Transportation Management (HOTM) to Better Understand:

    • What operations analysis tools are being used during the planning process

    • What additional resources may be needed to improve/expand the analysis of operations within in the planning process

  • Distributed by the The Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) to its members in October 2005

  • 64 Surveys Returned as of 15 November 2005

  • Microsoft ACCESS database created

  • Initial results focused on responses to individual questions complete

Distribution of Responses

Summary of ResultsQ1: Does your agency currently consider management and operations projects and strategies in the planning process?

  • Use of Congestion Management Plan, Regional ITS Master Plan/Architecture, andRegional ITS or M&O coalitions or committees

  • “The operations folks sit on the Technical Committee and the MPO folks sit on a Traffic Commission”.

  • Explicit goal hierarchy: “First goal is asset management followed by ITS/Operations”

  • Separate elements in TIP and LRTP for access management, pavement and safety management. Funding of standalone projects for M&O and ITS.

  • Evaluation of Improved management and operations/demand reduction alternatives and strategies as part of LRTP development

Summary of ResultsQ2: Does your agency currently use a regional travel demand forecasting model?

Summary of ResultsQ3: Does your agency currently use analysis tools for analyzing operations and ITS projects and strategies in the planning process?

Summary of ResultsQ3 a: What types of tools does your agency use? b: What types of tools is your agency aware of?

Sketch Planning and Regional Travel Demand Forecasting

Sketch Planning

Regional Travel Demand Forecasting

Summary of ResultsQ3 a: What types of tools does your agency use? b: What types of tools is your agency aware of?

Deterministic, Traffic Optimization, & Simulation


Traffic Optimization


Summary of ResultsQ3 a & b: List of Additional Tools

  • Sketch Planning


  • Regional Travel Demand Forecasting

    • VISUM (formerly TMODEL2)

    • TP+

    • VIPER

  • Deterministic and Traffic Optimization Tools

    • TEAPAC

    • Cinema

  • Simulation

    • Dynasim

    • Sim Traffic

  • Other Impacts

    • Mobile 6.2

    • Road Soft (Asset Management)

    • WorkZone

    • PPAQ

    • PPSuite

    • ARC-GIS

Summary of ResultsQ3 c: What are the barriers in using these tools to analyze operations in the context of the planning process?

  • Additional detailed “operational information” and data required by operational tools. Lack of archived operations data. Lack of data on how operations impacts capacity and regional mobility

  • Lack of trained staff. Special skills to apply operations analysis tools

  • Limited Federal funding for MPO planning especially for small MPOs. Small staffs and inadequate resources.

  • Appropriate scale micro-simulation tools that account for individual demand and travel behavior

  • Operational analyses are not part of/accepted for use in calculating benefit/costs for programming projects

  • “Turf” issues between operations and planning agencies and/or staff. Perceived restrictions in using planning funds for management and operations activities

  • Disconnects between regional planning and operational/simulation tools.

  • Lack of understanding/knowledge on what the tools can analyze. When each is appropriate

  • Tools not accepted for air quality conformity and other analyses that require approval.

  • Consultant community “discourages” MPOs to provide services and analyses in competition with what they do.

Summary of ResultsQ 3d. What do you consider to be the enablers in overcoming these barriers?

  • Improved data collection and storage procedures

  • Proper/more funding. Adequate staff and software.

  • Better understanding of the appropriate scale for micro-simulation tools. What tools are appropriate for answering different types of questions.

  • More training. Peer exchanges and awareness/education.

  • A broader understanding of M&O in general and change in attitudes towards operations by agency managers, policy makers, and legislators. Public information/educations, consensus building, cooperation, and TeamWork.

  • Incorporation of operations and dynamic features (queue estimation) in traditional travel forecasting and planning software.

  • Proactive State DOT participation and support. Active Federal technical and policy support.

Summary of ResultsQ4: If your agency uses analysis tools for operational analyses, are the results incorporated into the planning process?

  • Answers very split between no, indirectly, and yes

  • Yes, Visum macro networks interface with Vissim micro-simulation networks.

  • IDAS as a post processor. No, but IDAS uses planning model outputs and input.

  • Many responses indicated post processing, or indirect use. Little feedback and integration in consistent process

Summary of ResultsQ5: Are the analysis tools used and maintained in house, by state DOT, or by consultant staff (or a combination)?

Summary of ResultsQ6: If you are not using analysis tools for evaluation of operations and ITS projects and strategies in the planning process, why not?

  • Outside of scope/responsibilities. MPOs not responsible for ITS implementation and operations

  • Operational analysis results are not accepted by agencies that are programming projects using benefit/cost analysis

  • No assistance from State DOT on use of tools. Lack of familiarity with the tools use and functions

  • Limited perceived need for the additional analysis. “The regional planning process per se at a large metropolitan scale doesn’t seem to need to get down to the level of “operations” at a modeling scale.”

  • Lack of time and resources

  • Lack of official approval from State DOT, Federal agencies (EPA?) on use of tools and acceptance of their results (IDAS, others).

Summary of ResultsQ7: Does your agency use analysis tools for evaluation of operations and ITS projects for other purposes (e.g. congestion management analysis, corridor or network studies, or project development)?

Summary of ResultsQ 7a. List of analysis tools used for evaluation of operations and ITS projects.

  • Sketch Planning

    • GNE/QRSII,

  • Regional Travel Demand Forecasting

    • VISUM, CUBE, TranPlan, TransCAD, EMME/2

  • Deterministic and Traffic Optimization Tools

    • HCS, Rodel

  • Simulation

    • CORSIM/TSIS, VISSIM, SYNCHRO, SIDRA, SimTraffic, Dynasmart

  • Other Mobile 6.2

    • Turbo Architecture

    • PPSuite

    • PPAQ

    • CMAQT

    • Mobile 6

Summary of ResultsQ 7b. Explain why your agency does not use these tools for evaluation of operations and ITS Projects

  • Poor performance, “ we have found they consistently miss their estimates”.

  • Limited need for this type of analysis

  • This type of work is generally done by consultants at the project level

  • Have developed our own methodology for measuring congestion.

  • Time/manpower, lack of expertise, and uncertainty of the value added to planning process. (Have not accepted new “mission” of operations and planning as part of their role).

Summary of ResultsQ8: Does your regional travel demand-forecasting database include archived operations data?

Summary of ResultsQ9: If yes to #8, does your agency have adequate access to archived operations data, including data such as traffic volumes, travel times, speed, signal timing, and signal phasing, to be used for operational analyses in the planning process?

  • Data not collected in process. No signaltiming or phasing data are maintained for planningnetworks. Only averages for traffic volumes and speeds maintained.

  • Formats and sources of archived operations data in the region is not centralized

  • Lack of support in the region for developing/maintaining centralized data

  • Perceived “poor quality” of archived data

Summary of ResultsQ10: Does your agency have the technical capabilities to run the models and use analysis tools to evaluate operations in the planning process?

Summary of ResultsQ11: Do you have any other comments on incorporating analysis tools and operational analysis into the planning process?

  • Need more training opportunities

  • Must resolve what is the “appropriate scale” for different types of analyses. Where should different issues be addressed in the overall transportation process?

  • Our profession still needs better integration to overcome past barriers and lack of communication between traditional roles

  • “I believe we have a long way to go yet in establishing the value of a regional role in most areas of operational analysis.”

  • “It would be helpful if FHWA provided local staff training opportunities”

  • Air quality non-conformity acted as a catalyst for additional resources and analysis needs

  • “It would be helpful to have a more sophisticated simulation-assignment approach using a mesoscopic model which can simulate queues, model signalized intersections, and do dynamic network analysis for large metropolitan areas”. Regional models need to incorporate differenced in operations and conditions as inputs and not just program assumptions

  • Survey did not seem to apply to really small MPOs. Implementing these tools will be difficult for small MPOs

  • Many comments on need for additional resources, funding, and trained staff

Summary of ResultsQ12: Would your agency be willing to participate in any future research efforts to improve the way operations is addressed in the context of the planning process?

Next Steps:

  • Cross-Sectional Analysis by Agency Characteristics

    • Size of MPO Region

    • MPO Staff

    • Air Quality Status

    • Congestion Levels

    • Other ?

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