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MAG Regional Concept of Transportation Operations


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The Regional Concept of Transportation Operations (RCTO) for the Phoenix metropolitan region was developed by Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) in 2003. At the time, and also since then the national ITS leadership has been emphasizing the need for developing a Concept of Operations. Although there were no relevant examples to follow, the Phoenix metropolitan region proceeded to make history by developing the nation’s first Regional Concept of Transportation Operations, for improving transportation operations in the region. The MAG Regional Council unanimously approved the final report and its recommendations. The RCTO is the first regionally approved plan that dealt directly with the issue of transportation operations. The successful process that was followed by MAG in developing the RCTO is now widely recognized, among ITS professionals, as a best practice. It has been included in the ACTION KIT for Immediate Solutions for Transportation Operations Issues, developed by FHWA, ITE and National Transportation Operations Coalition.

The Regional Concept of Transportation Operations classified the functions that deal with operations into three levels: (1) the local level, (2) the local/regional level and (3) the regional level (see Figure 1). At the local level, operational functions are those need to be performed by individual agency regardless of other partners. At the local/regional level, functions need to be conducted by individual agency but with consideration for possible region wide impacts. This requires coordination and collaboration with other agencies affected by these functions. At the regional level, operations functions benefit local jurisdictions as well as an entire region. Functions at this level require regional cooperation and collaboration.

Figure 1 Levels of Operations Functions

The project developed a unique Vision and Mission statement (see Figure 2) with the graphical representation of several missions supporting a central vision. By investigating the status of current operations and developing a realistic vision for the future, the project established ten ambitious, yet practical, goals for the next five years. These ten goals cover freeway, arterial and transit mobility, freeway and arterial incident management, emergency vehicle operations on arterial, multi-agency coordination, travel information provision, freeway-arterial interface and computer system reliability.

Other than setting the goals for the future, the RCTO also recommended eleven initiatives as the framework of actions that the region should follow in pursuit of the stated vision. Under each initiative, the associated functions or action steps were identified to implement the RCTO recommendations.

Figure 2 RCTO Vision and Mission

The RCTO also identified performance measures that would quantify how well the operations initiatives are working in meeting the goals. Since coordinated transportation operations deal with more than technical issues, the RCTO also identified the institutional needs and the required resources for each initiative.

The RCTO has led to the development of a number of operations initiatives under different AZTech working groups. These initiatives are closely aligned with RCTO goals.

Figure 3 Responsibilities of regional forums and committees

The Regional Concept of Transportation Operations has been adopted by a broad range of local stakeholders engaged in operations (see Figure 3). Several new AZTech initiatives have been inspired by the RCTO and are producing solutions for improving transportation operations. Overall, the collaborative process that was followed by MAG in developing the RCTO has led to very encouraging results.

The Regional Concept of Transportation Operations project received the 2006 Best ITS Planning Project Award from ITS Arizona.

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Project Consultant:
Pierre Pretorius
Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. 602-944-5500

Senior Program Manager – ITS and Safety:
Sarath Joshua