The National Transportation Operations Coalition
Richard T. Romer, P.E., PTOE
Orth-Rodgers & Associates, Inc.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Member, APWA Transportation Committee
The National Transportation Operations Coalition (NTOC) is an alliance of national associations, private sector groups and practitioners representing interests at the state, local and regional levels with a broad range of experience in transportation operations, transportation planning and public transportation safety. These stakeholders include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the federal agency that initiated the "National Dialogue on Transportation Operations" advocating a stronger focus on the operation of the nation's transportation system, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials (AASHTO), the American Public Works Association (APWA), ITS America and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE).
The "National Dialogue on Transportation Operations" included initiatives to:
Why is the management and operations of our transportation systems and infrastructure so important? In 2001 the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) conducted a study of congestion in the nation's 75 largest metropolitan areas with the following findings:
Obviously, the cost of congestion has a significant adverse impact on the economic productivity of our nation. Strategies need to be developed to improve the efficient operation and management of our transportation systems and infrastructure and to improve its reliability. The "National Dialogue on Operations" has heightened the awareness of this pervasive issue.
The activities by NTOC set the stage for a "National Summit on Operations" that was held in October 2001. The Summit moved from discussion to action at various levels of government fostering institutional and paradigm changes on the approaches to provide improvements in mobility, reliability and the operation of transportation systems. Recommendations made as a result of Summit activities included:
Mission and Goals
This change in thinking led to the creation of NTOC. As stated by FHWA in its website, the mission of the NTOC is "to improve management and operation of the nation's existing transportation system so that its performance will exceed customer expectations."
The NTOC developed a series of goals of which attainment will define a measure of success:
Actions were identified that would provide progress in the short term:
State of Art:
The NTOC is comprised of several subcommittees and teams actively involved in developing and promoting strategies to improve management and operations in the following focus areas:
Volunteers serve on the subcommittees and action teams that meet regularly throughout the year. The NTOC meets biannually.
National Traffic Signal Report Card
Recently, the NTOC offered the opportunity for public agencies to participate in a self-assessment of traffic signal operations practices in the following areas:
The Traffic Operation Self Assessment was completed by 378 agencies in 49 states representing about one-third of the 260,000 traffic signals in the United States. It is known that transportation dollars are being stretched thinner and thinner and the public needs to know that the benefits of investing in traffic signal timing outweigh the cost by 40:1 or more.
The results of the self-assessment in the five areas and overall score indicated that more resources are needed.
National Traffic Signal Report Card
Proactive Management F
Signals Operation in Coordinated Systems D-
Signal Operation at Individual Intersections C-
Detection Systems F
Overall Score D-
If resources were provided to support traffic signal operations at an "A" level, the nation would enjoy the following benefits:
In more meaningful terms, if you spent two hours per day commuting and for other trips daily, you can save 50 hours per year. Nationally, we could decrease fuel consumption by almost 17 billion gallons per year. Investment in traffic signal operations and timing is a wise choice with benefits accruing immediately to improve the environment, our economy, and our quality of life.
Richard T. Romer, P.E., PTOE, is a member of APWA's Transportation Committee and served as the committee chair in 2003-04. He is a past member of APWA's Smart Growth Task Force and was the Nevada Chapter President in 1997. He can be reached at (702) 233-4060 or email@example.com.