A Citizen's Guide to Transportation Decision Making
The Government and Transportation Decisionmaking
Transportation decisionmaking is carried out by several governmental levels:
- State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) are the largest units of government that develop transportation plans and projects. They are responsible for setting the transportation goals for the state. To do so, they work with all of the state's transportation organizations and local governments. They are responsible for planning safe and efficient transportation between cities and towns in the state.
- Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) represent areas with a population of 50,000 people or more. An MPO may have "council of governments" or "regional planning commission" in its official name. Each MPO is different because individual metropolitan areas are so different. A policy board, which is comprised of local elected officials, set an MPO's policy; but other groups, such as non-profit organizations, community organizations, or environmental organizations, can influence the direction an MPO follows. The MPOs' mission is to provide short and long-term solutions to transportation and transportation-related concerns.
- Local governments carry out many transportation planning functions, such as scheduling improvements and maintenance for local streets and roads.
- Transit agencies are public and private organizations that provide transportation for the public. Public transportation includes buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, monorail, passenger ferryboats, trolleys, inclined railways and people movers.
- The Federal Government (U.S. DOT) reviews the transportation planning and project activities of the MPOs and state DOTs. The federal government also provides advice and training on transportation topics, ranging from pavement technology to design to efficient operations of highway and transit systems. The federal government also supplies critical funding needed for transportation planning and projects. At least every two years, the federal government approves projects planned for construction by the state and other state agencies using federal funds.