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9 CHAPTER THREE Agency And Metropolitan Planning Organization Survey Results This chapter describes the results of the agency and MPO Overview of Responses survey for agencies that did and did not involve advisory committees in transit planning or operations in the past 3 To identify best practices among agencies that involve advi- years. The remainder of the chapter includes sections on sory committees in transit planning and operations, the different aspects of committee structure, management, and questionnaire responses were carefully reviewed and com- outcomes. pared to identify relationships between measures of success and attributes of committee organization, structure, and management. These comparisons are noted. The results of Survey Process, Topics, And Response Rate the questionnaire analysis are based on responses from a self-selected set of transit agencies and MPOs and may not The majority of this synthesis report is based on survey represent the full range of experiences with advisory com- results from transit agencies and MPOs throughout the coun- mittees throughout the country. try. Agencies were identified through the National Transit Database and MPOs were identified through the U.S.DOT's The lack of consistency in the practices of agencies with MPO Database (see Appendix A). successful advisory committees suggests that a formulaic approach to successful committee organization, structure, The questionnaire included 62 questions about committee and management does not exist. This supports the com- membership and roles, organization and protocols, decision- monly held idea that effective advisory committees, as making authority and processes, facilitation and manage- with all other public involvement tools, be structured to fit ment, staff support, and committee evaluation methods. the context of the agency or MPO, the community, and the The questionnaire was mainly composed of close-ended issues to be addressed; a one-size-fits-all approach to pub- questions, but respondents were able to indicate "other" and lic involvement does not support success. Best practices further explain their response on each question. In addition, are related to strategic committee design based on agency, several open-ended questions were included. MPO, community, or project needs, as well as adherence to the most basic public involvement principles such as pro- Recognizing that some agencies involve a variety of advi- viding for meaningful involvement and clear delineation of sory committees in different types of projects and processes, roles and responsibilities. agencies were invited to complete multiple questionnaires; one for each committee established. Although some agencies did return multiple questionnaires, the majority indicated Agencies Not Involving Advisory Committees the involvement of multiple committees in different aspects of planning and operations but returned only a questionnaire Eighteen percent of respondents reported that their agen- describing a single committee. cies had not included an advisory committee in transit plan- ning or operations in the past 3 years. These agencies were Analysis of 232 responses from transit agencies and asked to provide information about why they chose not to MPOs are presented in this synthesis. Responses were involve advisory committees. Following are the most fre- received from 46 states and the District of Columbia and, quent responses: though nearly 30% of response came from three states (Cali- fornia, Florida, and Pennsylvania), overall participation was Other methods are more effective than CACs geographically diverse: 18% from the Northeast, 52% from Not planning capital improvements or changes that the Midwest, 32% from the South, and 29% from the West. require public input Overall, more surveys were received from transit agencies CACs are too time, resource, or staff intensive. than MPOs, and the majority (more than 80%) were received from agencies that had involved an advisory committee A few respondents reported negative ideas about involv- within the past 3 years. ing advisory committees, including that they are expensive