The process of investigating transportation concerns in metropolitan areas is referred to as Metropolitan Transportation Planning (MTP) (DOT, 2007). According to the Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation (2007), the process includes a population-based examination of a particular community, as well on transportation patterns and trends. Metropolitan Planning Organizations or MPOs are tasked in transportation planning in metropolitan areas that comprise 50,000 or more people (DOT, 2007).
The foremost advantage of MTP (MPO in particular) is that it is consensual and amenable to the bodies or institutions concerned since it provides a discussion for local executive on transportation issues of a regional nature. Under SAFETEA-LU (Sec. 1107, 6001), as pointed out by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the policy for the planning process is to promoting conformity between transportation enhancements and State and local proposed economic development plans (WSDOT, 2007). MPOs are also expected to work hand-in-hand with the state in formulizing and developing transportation programs for the urbanized area (UZAs) that will also yield programs coherent with its comprehensive development program (WSDOT, 2007). Moreover according to WSDOT (2007), the plans could lead to the development of transportation facilities and serve as “attachment” means of the states as well as the nation. However, MPOs are not a “one-stop” body. The state and the local agencies work together for its planning actions to be performed. An MPO can deal with staffs from various agencies in performing specific aspects in the planning process, providing a forum for member executives to discuss regional transportation issues and improvements for the region (WSDOT, 2007). This may cause inconsistencies in the planning process and thus the implementation of a specific program in different associating states and local agencies. Additional cost may also be expected when contracting staff from other agencies.
DOT. (2007). Transportation Planning Capacity Building: Metropolitan Planning [Electronic Version]. Retrieved April 16, 2007 from http://www.planning.dot.gov/metro.asp.
WSDOT. (2007). Metropolitan Transportation Planning: What is MPO? [Electronic Version] Retrieved April 16, 2007 from http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/planning/metro.