Transportation Infrastructure:

States' Implementation of Transportation Management Systems

RCED-97-32: Published: Jan 13, 1997. Publicly Released: Jan 13, 1997.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed: (1) the status of the states' development and implementation of transportation management systems; (2) how the states expect to use the systems; and (3) the factors that have facilitated or hindered the development and implementation of the systems.

GAO found that: (1) as of September 1996, about half the states were moving forward with all six transportation management systems even though they were no longer mandatory; (2) the remaining states were developing or implementing at least three of the systems originally mandated by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991; (3) all states were implementing the pavement management system, and nearly all states were implementing the bridge, safety, and congestion management systems; (4) congestion management systems were being developed for all transportation management areas, where they are still mandatory; (5) about 30 states were implementing the public transportation and intermodal management systems; (6) the states were developing the systems for use by decisionmakers in the planning process and to help transportation officials conduct daily operations; (7) three states that GAO visited recognized that marketing the systems to potential users, such as executives, planners, and engineers, is critical to ensuring the optimal use of the systems; (8) some states have realized that to obtain the most uses from the systems, each needs to be integrated with the others; (9) nationwide, over half the states plan to integrate the systems; (10) three states that GAO reviewed indicated that the 1991 mandate provided a catalyst, or "jump start," to developing and implementing the new systems; (11) the mandate resulted in the systems' receiving high-level support and top priority status in these states; (12) although implementing the systems is now optional, several states are continuing this effort because they view the systems as beneficial to the decision-making process in that they provide more accurate, timely information than was previously available; (13) on the other hand, the removal of the federal mandate lessened support for developing certain systems; (14) some states reported that the Department of Transportation's (DOT) failure to issue a clear and timely rule on management systems following the 1991 mandate had caused difficulties in implementing the public transportation, congestion, and intermodal management systems; (15) several states told GAO that the Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) was helpful in providing initial workshops and training to develop the systems; and (16) officials in all seven states that GAO reviewed indicated that they continue to need federal assistance in solving technical problems with software and learning from other states' experiences in implementing and integrating the systems.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FHwA and FTA will continue, as they have in the past, to identify and provide technical assistance on an as-needed basis through periodic reviews of Unified Planning Work Programs, metropolitan and statewide transportation plans and improvement programs, and federal certification of Transportation Management Areas. However, according to DOT's coordinator for the systems, FHwA and FTA do not plan to proactively work with the states to identify technical assistance needs, as recommended by GAO because development of the systems by states is voluntary. As a result, GAO does not deem this action fully responsive to the recommendation. Because DOT plans no further action, GAO is closing this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To better assist the states and metropolitan planning organizations in addressing the issues they are encountering as they further implement the transportation management systems and to better communicate the availability of the assistance provided within and outside of DOT, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrators, FHwA and Federal Transit Administration (FTA), to work with the states to more fully determine the types of technical assistance needed by the states.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An FHwA and FTA study dated October 27, 1998, concluded that a significant improvement in a transportation management systems clearinghouse was not feasible. However, the study did acknowledge that there are existing resources that can be used to expand dissemination of transportation management systems information. The study recommended that FHwA and FTA work with DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) to enhance the current collection of materials on the BTS World Wide Website to include management systems information, and to market the availability of the information to potential users of the website.

    Recommendation: To better assist the states and metropolitan planning organizations in addressing the issues they are encountering as they further implement the transportation management systems and to better communicate the availability of the assistance provided within and outside of DOT, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrators, FHwA and FTA, to establish an information clearinghouse on: (1) training, conferences, and workshops being offered, regionally and nationally; (2) the status of and the states' experience with the implementation and integration of the six management systems; (3) the available software applications and technology; (4) the systems' performance measures; (5) examples of the "best practices" of the states that are effectively implementing and integrating the systems; and (6) other issues identified by the states.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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