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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why does COMPASS have so many different plans?


In July, the COMPASS Board adopted Communities in Motion 2040, the regional long-range transportation plan for Ada and Canyon Counties. Now COMPASS is asking for your comments on proposed changes to the Transportation Service Coordination Plan for Ada and Canyon Counties. This has raised a lot of questions. Are they the same thing? If not, how are the two plans different? How do they relate to each other? Why does COMPASS have so many different plans in the first place?

Let me answer these in order.

1. Are the two plans the same thing? No. While they are both transportation plans for Ada and Canyon Counties, Communities in Motion 2040 and the Transportation Service Coordination Plan for Ada and Canyon Counties are not the same thing.

2. How do the two plans differ? Basically, Communities in Motion 2040 is a long-range plan that discusses all transportation modes for all individuals and the Transportation Service Coordination Plan is a shorter-range plan specifically to address the public transportation needs of older adults and individuals with disabilities. Additional differences and similarities are shown in the side-by-side comparison below:

Communities in Motion
Transportation Service
Coordination Plan
Area covered
Ada and Canyon Counties
Ada and Canyon Counties
Time frame
Long term; plans to the year 2040
Short term; plans for the immediate future
Focus
All modes of transportation for all populations
Public transportation for older adults and individuals with disabilities
Purpose
To plan a transportation system to meet future needs based on projected growth in population and jobs within projected financial constraints
To improve current transportation services for older adults and individuals with disabilities; specifically to coordinate transportation access, minimize duplication of services, and facilitate the most appropriate cost-effective transportation possible
Required
By the US Department of Transportation for any area with a population over 50,000 to received federal transportation funds
By the Federal Transit Administration (part of the US Department of Transportation) to receive federal transportation funds specifically for older adults and individuals with disabilities.

3. How do the two plans relate to each other? Communities in Motion 2040 sets the stage and establishes a vision, goals, and performance metrics that are then reflected in the Transportation Service Coordination Plan. For example, the Transportation Service Coordination Plan prioritizes near-term public transportation projects for older adults and individual with disabilities that align with the goals and vision of Communities in Motion 2040. In addition, performance metrics established for the Transportation Service Coordination Plan mirror those developed for Communities in Motion 2040.

4. Why does COMPASS have so many plans? While multiple plans may seem duplicative, they do serve different needs and plan at different levels of detail and for different time periods. Developing strategies to meet immediate needs for public transportation services for specific populations, such as in the Transportation Service Coordination Plan, is very different than planning for all populations across all modes of transportation to meet needs 26 years into the future, as Communities in Motion does.

To put this in a personal perspective, just as you may be separately, but simultaneously, planning for your retirement and your next vacation – different goals with unique needs and different time frames – different transportation plans, even plans developed at the same, fulfill distinct, yet equally important, roles.

I encourage you to take a few moments to review and comment on the Transportation Service Coordination Plan particularly if you are a public transportation provider or have a tie to the plan’s target populations of individuals with disabilities and older adults. Comments will be accepted through Tuesday, September 9, 2014.

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Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho

COMPASS is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization responsible for transportation planning in Ada and Canyon Counties. The COMPASS Board comprises 39 members representing the cities, counties, highway districts, educational institutions, state agencies, and other entities within the two counties. COMPASS plays an important role in making decisions about future long-range transportation needs in the Treasure Valley, taking into consideration environmental and economic factors that affect the quality of life.