An MPO has five core planning functions:
1. Establish a setting: Establish and manage a
fair and impartial setting for effective regional
decision-making in the metropolitan area.
2. Identify and evaluate alternative transportation
improvement options: Use data and planning
methods to generate and evaluate alternatives.
3. Prepare and maintain a Metropolitan
Transportation Plan (MTP): Develop and
update a long-range transportation plan for the
metropolitan area covering a planning horizon
of at least 20 years that fosters (1) mobility and
access for people and goods, (2) efficient system
performance and preservation, and (3) good
quality of life.
4. Develop a Transportation Improvement
Program (TIP): Develop a short-range program
of transportation improvements based on the
long-range transportation plan; the TIP should
be designed to achieve the area's goals, using
spending, regulating, operating, management,
and financial tools.
5. Involve the public: Involve the general public
and other affected constituencies in the core
functions listed above.
Most MPOs will not take the lead in implementing
transportation projects, but will provide an overall
coordination role in planning and programming
funds for projects and operations. MPOs produce
three key documents during the planning process:
Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP)
Sometimes called the Long-Range Transportation
Plan (LRTP) or Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).
The MTP is the statement of ways the region plans to
invest in its transportation system. It looks out over
a minimum 20-year period and includes both long-
range and short-range program strategies/actions
that will lead to the development of an integrated
intermodal transportation system. The MTP must
be updated every five years in air quality attainment
areas or every four years in nonattainment or mainte-
Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
TIP identifies the transportation projects and strat-
egies from the MTP that the MPO plans to undertake
over the next four years. All projects receiving federal
funding or needing federal approval must be in the
TIP. The TIP is the region's way of allocating its
limited transportation resources among the various
capital and operating needs of the area, based on a
clear set of short-term transportation priorities.
Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP).
UPWP lists the transportation studies and tasks (e.g.,
data collection and analysis, public outreach, etc.) to
be performed by the MPO over the next one to two
years. Because the UPWP reflects local issues and
strategic priorities, the contents of the UPWP differ
from one metropolitan area to another.
Role of the state DOT
For activities outside the metropolitan area, the
state DOT is responsible for the planning process.
Each of the U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and the District
of Columbia have an agency or department with
official transportation planning, programming, and
project implementation responsibility for that state or
territory, referred to as the state DOT.
A state DOT has three core planning functions:
1. Prepare and Maintain a Long-Range Statewide
Transportation Plan: Develop and update a
long-range transportation plan for the state.
3 An air quality nonattainment area is a geographic region of the U.S. that the Environmental Protection Agency has designated as not meeting air