February 6


9 Transportation Planning Lessons Learned for Large Events

By Mike Spack

February 6, 2014

event traffic, event traffic planning

By Mike Spack, PE, PTOE

Soumya Dey and Eulois Cleckley of the District Department of Transportation wrote an excellent titled Transportation Planning and Operations for the Inauguration of the President of the United States.

They did an after action report that boiled their experience down to nine lessons learned.  I like this list a lot and think it applies to developing a transportation plan for any large event.

9 Transportation Planning Lessons for Large Events

  1. Find Common Ground – All of the appropriate agencies need to be at the table.  These agencies could have conflicting missions or priorities.  Focusing on the common goal, such as a “successful inauguration,” is the way to find a compromise amongst the competing agendas.
  2. Develop the Plan Early – All stakeholders need to be involved early.  For instance, you can’t have vendors expecting to put up tents on a corner that would block required site lines.  It takes time to work out these conflicts.
  3. Exercise the Plan – Make sure you define roles and responsibilities for each agency.
  4. Plan for Contingencies – Plan for rain, snow, loss of communications, placing emergency response personnel, etc.
  5. Communicate a Common and Unified Mission – Everyone should be on the same page.  Utilize traditional and social media.
  6. Manage Expectations – Disney World is great at this – tell people it’s a 20-minute wait when staff expects a 10-minute wait.  Prepare everyone for the worst case scenario so they’ll be pleasantly surprised when you outperform the predictions.
  7. Ensure Sufficient “Boots on the Ground’ – Especially when dealing with out of town folks, you need a lot of people on the ground who can give clear guidance.
  8. Learn From the Past – Take the time to prepare after-action reports to develop institutional knowledge and iterate improvements.
  9. De-conflict Modes – Separate modes as much as possible.  For instance, don’t send buses and taxis down streets that will be overwhelmed with pedestrians.

I’ve asked City of Minneapolis, Minnesota staff if they’re putting together a similar after-action report from Super Bowl LII as I’d love to share any lessons they learned with you.  I’ll keep you posted if I learn anything.

Mike Spack Bio

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Mike Spack

My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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