Who Is the Public?
The public includes any individual or group who resides, is employed, has an interest, or does business in an area potentially affected by transportation decisions. It is also important for all private and public providers of transportation services, including, but not limited to, the trucking and rail freight industries, the intercity rail passenger industry, taxicab operators, and all transit and para-transit service operators to have an opportunity to participate. Finally, extra efforts may be needed to engage persons traditionally under-served by existing transportation systems, such as low-income populations or minority populations, the disabled and the elderly
Role of Public Involvement in Developing Transportation Policies, Programs & Projects
Public involvement ensures that transportation decisions consider public needs and preferences. The fundamental objective of public involvement programs is to ensure that the concerns and issues of people with a stake in transportation decisions are identified and addressed. Early and ongoing public involvement brings diverse viewpoints into the decision-making process. Public involvement lets agencies make better-informed decisions and builds mutual understanding and trust between agencies and the public they serve. Successful public participation is a continuous process that obtains input from and informs the public.
Role of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in Implementing Public Involvement Processes
MPOs are responsible for actively involving all affected parties in an open, cooperative, and collaborative process that provides meaningful opportunities to influence transportation decisions. Decision-makers must consider fully the social, economic, and environmental consequences of their actions, and assure the public that transportation programs support adopted land use plans and community values.
MPOs must consult with interested parties to develop and document a public participation plan that details strategies for incorporating visualization techniques, using electronic media, holding public meetings, and responding to public input, among other things. MPOs also must evaluate the effectiveness of the public participation plan in informing and engaging the public and stakeholder communities.