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Performance Based Planning and Programming Newsletter

Volume 1, Issue 2, April 2013

The Performance Based Planning and Programming (PBPP) Newsletter is a newsletter that will connect the transportation planning community with timely information on training, technical assistance, and technical support for Federal, State, local, regional and Tribal governments; transit operators; and community leaders.

An Ideal Objective is "S-M-A-R-T"

Once goals have been identified, a critical component of a PBPP process is developing objectives and performance measures to determine how performance in each of these areas will be measured and evaluated. An ideal objective should have "SMART" characteristics as defined here - specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic, and time-bound. By developing SMART objectives, system performance can be examined and monitored over time.

S: Specific

The objective provides sufficient specificity to guide formulation of viable approaches to achieving the objective without dictating the approach.

M: Measurable

The objective facilitates quantitative evaluation, saying how many or how much should be accomplished. Tracking progress against the objective enables an assessment of effectiveness of actions.

A: Agreed

Planners, operators, and relevant planning participants come to a consensus on a common objective. This is most effective when the planning process involves a wide range of stakeholders to facilitate regional collaboration and coordination.

R: Realistic

The objective can reasonably be accomplished within the limitations of resources and other demands. The objective may require substantial coordination, collaboration, and investment to achieve. Factors such as land use may also have an impact on the feasibility of the objective and should be taken into account. Because how realistic the objective is cannot be fully evaluated until after strategies and approaches are defined, the objective may need to be adjusted to be achievable.

T: Time-Bound

The objective identifies a timeframe within which it will be achieved.

For more information, contact Egan Smith at 202-366-6072 or

The Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan (MnSHIP): Advancing the use of performance information through a scenario-based approach to planning

A key role of performance in MnSHIP's scenario-based planning approach is to support the development of "performance levels."

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) integrates performance management into planning, programming and project selection through a Family of Plans that includes the Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan (SMTP) and collection of modal investment plans that link the SMTP to MnDOT's capital program.

The most mature application of performance-based decision-making within MnDOT's Family of Plans is the 20-year Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan (MnSHIP). Since 2003, MnSHIP's precursors have employed performance measures, targets, and predictive models to express MnDOT's aspirational performance goals and describe the gap between desired and anticipated outcomes on the state highway system. The next iteration of MnSHIP, due out in the summer of 2013, is further advancing the use of performance information through a scenario-based planning process that encourages stakeholders to consider cross-cutting risks and performance trade-offs when setting investment priorities.

A key role of performance in MnSHIP's scenario-based planning approach is to support the development of "performance levels." Similar to a level of service concept, MnSHIP performance levels (identified on a 0-4 scale) are used to signify a set of strategies, performance outcomes and risks associated with a given level of investment in one of nine distinct investment categories. These performance levels are grouped together into fiscally constrained investment scenarios that reflect broad objectives, such as maintaining existing infrastructure or improving mobility and non-motorized transportation options. While total investment is held constant, the level of investment in a specific investment category (represented by the performance level) varies depending on the extent to which the category contributes to a scenario's objective. For example, the investment category "pavement condition" is assigned a performance level of 2 under a scenario focused on asset condition and a performance level of 0 under a scenario focused on improved mobility.

The development of alternative investment scenarios based on a range of possible performance levels has enabled MnDOT to continue a robust and informed discussion of anticipated performance in investment areas where established targets are increasingly unachievable. This discussion has encouraged stakeholders to distinguish between outcomes that are sub-optimal but acceptable and those that pose a severe risk to critical objectives. In the context of a fiscally constrained plan, the development of performance levels has also helped to clarify the performance trade-offs that occur when investment is shifted from one category to another.

For more information about the use of performance-based planning and programming in MnSHIP, visit or contact Ryan Wilson at 651-3663537 or

Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study Developing SMART Objectives

The Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study (CUUATS) developed its Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), titled "LRTP 2035: Choices", with a set of goals tied to each of the SAFETEA-LU Planning Factors. For each goal, the plan identifies objectives, strategies, and measures of performance called Measures of Effectiveness (MOE). These parts of the plan represent concepts by which projects should be identified, designed, and constructed. The goals provide a general statement about the end state of the LRTP. Objectives refer to sub-goals necessary for the completion of the broader goals. Strategies are specific action items that can be taken to complete each objective. Finally, MOEs are data sets and tracking measures used to see how the urbanized area performs over the five year periods between plan updates.

For each goal, the plan identifies objectives, strategies, and measures of performance called Measures of Effectiveness (MOE).

The MOEs are based on real data collected during the LRTP update process, they direct the vision of the LRTP, and guide the plan's implementation process. the "LRTP 2035: Choices", specific MOEs were developed to help local agencies track the progress of each objective during the five year period between LRTP updates. MOEs were tailored to be specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time-bound (SMART) to increase achievability within a reasonable time frame.

The LRTP identifies major, regionally beneficial transportation projects which can be targeted for federal funding in the Champaign-Urbana urbanized area and the area that will become urbanized over the next 25 years. To help realize goals and objectives over time, MOEs are directly tied to the existing conditions of the urbanized area during the plan process and updated annually in Report Cards after the plan is published. The Report Cards track historical data up to the latest year available for the data that corresponds to a specific MOE to analyze the region's development since the last LRTP update. CUUATS uses data like transit ridership, Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), number of miles of bicycle infrastructure, etc. and data from CUUATS' many interconnected models to look back over the last five to ten years to track the progress of the urbanized area. Reviewing the importance the of broader goals and objectives during each LRTP update so parties responsible for implementing projects can help meet established MOEs.

The measures of effectiveness developed for the "LRTP 2035: Choices" are currently being reviewed for CUUATS' upcoming "LRTP 2040: Sustainable Choices". This plan, scheduled for release in 2014, will include data from the previous LRTP, updated MOEs, and make use of CUUATS' suite of interconnected models for more reliable measurements of the MOEs.

For more information about the "LRTP 2035: Choices" or LRTP Report Cards, please visit or visit for information about CUUATS' suite of interconnected models.

Integrating Demand Management into the Transportation Planning Process: A Desk Reference

The publication titled, Integrating Demand Management into the Transportation Planning Process: A Desk Reference has been developed to serve as a desk reference on integrating demand management into the transportation planning process. The desk reference is organized around two fundamental aspects of transportation planning - policy objectives and scope of the planning effort. The report discusses how demand management relates to seven key policy objectives that are often included in transportation plans, such as congestion and air quality. It then discusses how demand management might be integrated into four levels of transportation planning from the state down to the local level. The report also includes information on tools available for evaluating demand management measures and on the known effectiveness of these measures.

Details on the past workshops can be found at: For more information contact Wayne Berman at (202) 366-4069.

Advancing Metropolitan Planning for Operations: The Building Blocks of a Model Transportation Plan Incorporating Operations - A Desk Reference

The publication titled, Advancing Metropolitan Planning for Operations: The Building Blocks of a Model Transportation Plan Incorporating Operations - A Desk Reference 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. It offers practitioners a menu of options for incorporating operations into their plans through an organized collection of sample operations objectives and performance measures. It also features excerpts from a model metropolitan transportation plan, illustrating the results of an objectives-driven, performance-based approach to planning for operations.

For more information, contact Wayne Berman at 202-366-4069.

For more information, go to the Performance Based Planning and Programming Web site at -

Collaboration with Transportation Stakeholders

These projects are being developed in close collaboration with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organization (AMPO), the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and the National Association of Development Organization (NADO).

Editorial Staff:

Jody McCullough, Co-Editor
FHWA Office of Planning
(202) 366-5001

Victor Austin, Co-Editor
FTA Office of Systems Planning
(202) 366-2996

Lisa Randall
FHWA Resource Center
(720) 963-3209

Brian Betlyon
FHWA Resource Center
(410) 962-0086

Ben Williams
FHWA Resource Center

drawing of a truck

NOTICE: The information and articles in this newsletter are for your information and do not necessarily constitute policy positions of the Federal Highway Administration or Federal Transit Administration. The mention of commercial products, their source, or their use in connection with material reported herein is not to be construed as either an actual or implied endorsement of such products.

Updated: 10/20/2015
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