Stronger Federal Direction Needed To Promote Better Use of Present Urban Transportation Systems

CED-79-126: Published: Oct 4, 1979. Publicly Released: Oct 4, 1979.

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To encourage better use of existing highway and public transit systems, the Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) and the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) in 1975 issued joint planning regulations requiring urban areas to develop transportation systems management plans. In developing these plans, urban areas are to consider a wide range of projects, such as preferential treatment for transit and other high-occupancy vehicles, progressive timing of traffic signals, and establishment of pricing mechanisms to reduce vehicle use in congested areas.

The joint planning regulations have not resulted in integrated urban transportation system plans nor in the widespread adoption of projects different from those implemented prior to the regulations. FHwA and UMTA administer the regulations separately, do not always agree on the regulations' scope, and do not enforce the requirements consistently. Urban areas are required to submit one plan for highways and transit, but separate reviews by FHwA and UMTA do not facilitate integration of urban transportation plans. Since there is no one interpretation of what transportation systems management is, federal, state, and local transportation officials are uncertain as to what kinds of projects can or should be considered in the plans. Neither FHwA nor UMTA has required measurable objectives to be established, and most urban areas have not established them.

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