Not Your Father’s RTP … or … Losing LOS

A few months ago I asked JPACT chair Rex Burkholder “I understand the idea behind an outcomes-based RTP process, but when is the process going to feel different?”

As of this week’s TPAC workshop reviewing the draft of Chapter 1 (goals, objectives, policies) [PDF, 887K] it definitely feels different. From the intro memo, here are a few of the differences:

  • There are just two system maps – one for the design of the street system, and one for the design of the transit system. The merging of other modal system maps is discussed below.

    Rationale for change: This consolidation emphasizes a systems perspective rather than a modal perspective for the design, management and governance of the regional transportation system.

  • The motor vehicle functional classification system is dropped, with the remaining design and performance objectives for this system merged with street design objectives and a street design classification map.

    Rationale for change: The current two system map perspective for the design and function of the regional street system has been confusing, and in many cases ignored, during local implementation.

  • The current motor vehicle level-of-service (LOS) policy is updated, and replaced with multimodal design objectives set forth in the system design section and a multi-modal corridor performance measure set forth in the system management section.

    Rationale for change: The current LOS policy is not realistically attainable given other desired outcomes for land use, the economy, equity, fiscal stewardship and the environment. Recent amendments to the Oregon Transportation Plan also recognize the issues inherent with traditional approaches to dealing with congestion. This change moves the RTP away from level-of-service as the primary tool used to determine transportation needs and how big to size the system. The updated Chapter 1 uses aggregate, multi-modal system design objectives and a person-trip capacity measure to inform sizing of the transportation system over time. Reliability of the system,
    particularly for freight and goods movement, is also emphasized through travel time objectives and performance measures. The traditional level-of-service measures (e.g., demand-to-capacity ratios and travel speeds) would continue to be used as a diagnostic tool to identify problem areas, monitor performance of the system and inform phasing of transportation investments needed to complete the system over time. More specific strategies will be developed for how to achieve these objectives.

  • The regional freight functional classification system is dropped, and replaced with a regional freight corridors map that simply informs design and management objectives for critical freight access routes that includes road, rail, air and waterways.

    Rationale for change: The focus of the RTP should be ensuring critical freight access routes are provided and that they be reliable and designed to facilitate efficient freight and goods movement. A functional classification system map is not needed to accomplish these objectives. More specific strategies will be developed for how to achieve these objectives.

  • The regional bicycle and pedestrian classification systems are dropped, and replaced with design objectives that expected to be implemented for all streets in the region.

    Rationale for change: The current system map approach for the design and function of the regional bicycle and pedestrian systems has been confusing, and in some cases ignored, during local implementation. The focus of the RTP should be ensuring a safe, continuous and attractive network of bikeways and pedestrian facilities on all streets in the region. A functional classification system map is not needed to accomplish these objectives. The regional street design

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