Regional Workshop on Performance-based Planning and Programming - Workshop Summary
2. Current Practices in the Southeast
This section highlights some of the practices in
performance-based planning and programming currently implemented by state DOTs,
MPOs, and transit agencies that participated in the workshop. The Colorado DOT
and a panel of representatives from the Utah DOT, the Wasatch Front Range
Council, and the Utah Transit Authority shared their experiences with
performance based approaches with the group. A brief summary of each
presentation is presented here.
Colorado DOT, Performance Measurement at Work
Sandi Kohrs, Colorado DOT Planning and
Performance Branch Manager welcomed all participants to the workshop. Mrs.
Kohrs highlighted the enterprise management approach the agency is currently
pursuing and how the agency is actively linking performance measures within
their long range planning effort. Scott Richrath of the Colorado DOT’s
Performance and Policy Analysis Unit briefly presented on the state’s evolving
approach to measuring performance across the agency. Mr. Richrath focused on
the use of performance measurement tools and a performance based planning
framework to support the state long range plan and statewide transportation
goals. Key points from the presentation included:
- CDOT’s senior management and advisory committee set aspirational
goals through policy documents. These goals intend to describe what the
Transportation Commission seeks to deliver to the public, regardless of
resources. CDOT then measures actual performance against those goals through
annual performance reports and newly developed technical tools to track whether
the agency is falling short or gaining ground.
- CDOT is also focusing on performance-based planning components
within the current update to the statewide long range transportation plan for
2040. This plan will include desired statewide outcomes that are linked to
corridor-level goals and strategies, which are in turn intended to be aligned
with MPO performance measures and CDOT’s internal measures. Together these
measures will align with Federal funding programs and priorities.
- The agency is adopting a multi-asset management system, or
enterprise approach to performance measurement that tracks a wide variety of
measures in pavement, bridge, maintenance/level of service, fleet maintenance,
and intelligent transportation solutions strategies.
- This enterprise approach will leverage technology and web-based
reporting platforms to enable comprehensive reporting, ensure integrity, better
integrate across the agency, and endure staff turnover.
- Reports can be produced in this platform that track spending in
budget program categories against reported performance measures. For example,
safety program expenditures can be tracked against fatalities or VMT.
- One challenge to this approach is that while safety outcomes and
spending can be charted together this doesn’t indicate a correlation and may
not be statistically rigorous. Many agencies will face challenges identifying
variables that are directly associated with DOT actions and those that the
agency may not have any control over. CDOT recognizes this but believes it is important
to show progress toward those things that the public cares about.
Utah Department of Transportation, Technologies to
Advance Performance Based Planning Approaches
John Thomas, Director of Planning for the Utah DOT
introduced the workshop panelists from Utah and described how the state, MPOs,
and transit agencies are working together. He also introduced the major theme
of the panel which will focus on tools, processes, and projects currently being
applied in the state. Some key points from the presentation included:
- UDOT sponsored the development of UPlan, a web-based interactive
GIS mapping and data-sharing tool created to improve data management and
collaboration across the agency.
- UPlan provides a collaborative, common, and integrated software
program that helps organize data internally at the agency, as well as enabling
the public and other stakeholders to view and use that data. Where data may
have been produced once and then buried, or not shared across divisions, it can
now be used to produce GIS maps on the fly and used by others for analysis and
- For example, the state’s 2040 unified transportation plan can be
viewed, leveraged, and reported on – right from the web. This system allows for
environmental, safety, performance, and condition measures to be viewed and
reports created, which allows the agency and partners to leverage multiple data
sources in performance measurement and prioritization processes.
- Importantly, the ability to visualize and view data spatially,
even in 3D in Google Earth has enhanced the agency’s ability to communicate
with the Transportation Commission, state legislators, stakeholders, and the
public. Technology has replaced the traditional three-ring binders for
distributing and displaying information. In doing so, UDOT found that UPlan
enhanced the level of interest and engagement among Commission members and
- AASHTO is sponsoring a demonstration pilot program so that 14 participating
states may work with the UPlan tool and learn from Utah’s experiences. These
states will learn how this framework can work for their agency and explore
technologies and applications for making data more widely available. A national
mapping project will also seek to integrate data from Central Federal Lands and
other FHWA divisions.
Wasatch Front Range Council, A Common Framework for
Regional Performance Measures
Planning Manager with the Wasatch Front Range Council spoke to the MPO
perspective of working with the Utah DOT and stakeholders to further integrate
performance measures into planning activities. Some key points from the
- Wasatch Front Range Council (WFRC) has a long history
incorporating performance measures into regional plans and policies. The MPOs
new 2040 long range plan continues the practice of evaluating progress toward
the region’s 2005 growth principles with more specific goals and performance
indices. The 2040 plan includes common measures that are integrated into
Regional Transportation Plan evaluation criteria and are linked to regional
land use and visioning goals, transit agency goals, MPO scenario planning
goals, state, and new federal goals. A matrix was displayed showing these
- The MPO is working with the Utah DOT and Utah Transit Authority
(UTA) to align goals and projects and to identify common performance measures. A
Performance Management Advisory Committee was established that includes UDOT,
UTA, the state’s four MPOs, and other stakeholders. This group is working to
mesh the region’s broad growth principles with more detailed performance
- Transportation partners will face challenges reaching consensus
on which measures best support which goals. Even more challenging are measures
that can be tied explicitly to project evaluation and program monitoring to
measure success of regional planning.
Â Utah Transit Authority,
Performance Management Approaches
Hal Johnson, Project Development Manager with the Utah Transit Authority
provided an overview of the agency’s current performance measurement tools and
examples of how measurement improved services and aided decision making. Some
key points from the presentation included:
- The Utah Transit Authority implemented a performance management
system known as the Service Standards Initiative. This effort uses performance
measures to better understand drivers of effectiveness and to examine system
- The initiative focuses on a series of broad, but meaningful
measures (e.g. reliability, customer service, seat availability standards, on-time
performance, and land use) to track trends over time and compare efficiency and
identify needed improvements in service.
- The agency utilizes this data-driven management approach to inform
decision makers, communicate with stakeholders, and interact with employees.
For example, tracking on-time performance of buses in real time did not lead
directly to service improvements until the agency worked to communicate that
data to drivers and provided on-board schedule alerts. Those efforts lead to
direct improvements in level of service.
- UTA can also compare cost per boarding measures to other major
systems across the country and other key metrics to communicate the efficiency
of service and identify areas for improvement.
- Without service standards in place and consistent accountability
and decision making abilities UTA would not have been equipped to improve
service, achieve results, focus less in operations, and invest more in major
- The Service Standards Initiative tool has provided to be useful for
communicating with elected officials and local governments. The agency is now
looking into an expanded effort to measure and evaluate land use and urban
design principles when planning capital investments.
Other Best Practices of Workshop Participants
In addition to speakers and panelists, workshop participants
identified a number of other applications of performance-based planning and
programming within their own agencies. When queried, about half of attendees
indicated their agency used some sort of performance based approach, but of
those that did, relatively few believe that this information is used in
- Capital Metro in Austin, Texas indicated that they instituted a
performance measurement process in response to community and leadership
concerns. The agency has also institutionalized a pre-post evaluation of
expected level of service outcomes which has been welcomed by the Board and
helped improve trust with leadership and stakeholders.
- The Omaha MPO, MAPA, is trying an approach of identifying common
measures that are to be included with project submittals. If data collection
costs are captured in submitted project totals, it is more likely that better,
more consistent, and more reliable measures will be available.
- The Regional Transportation Commission in Southern Nevada
indicated that it has successfully implemented robust data collection and an
automated reporting process for incidents and travel volumes and mobility
measures. The organization uses this information to plan investments and
determine if projects are likely to mitigate delay or further goals.
- The Maricopa Association of Governments in Arizona established a
regional framework for performance measurement that included congestion
management process (CMP) criteria in project applications. The organization is
encountering coordination challenges and limited resources, but sees
opportunities in other areas and is now acquiring private speed data to fulfill
performance measurement needs.
- Other MPOs and states indicated that they tracked and reported other
common infrastructure measures (e.g., pavement and bridge conditions), but that
those data were not often used in prioritization or project selection
- A few participants indicated that they collected performance
measures at small scales, but without a coordinated or integrated approach
because of a lack of resources.