Focus Areas

Public Engagement


The Public Engagement focus area page is a one-stop shop for resources about public engagement and equity in transportation planning on the TPCB website. It includes links to publications, legislation and guidance, recent peer events, upcoming calendar events, and related websites.


Resources and Publications


  • Public Involvement Techniques for Transportation Decisionmaking   NEW!
    Quality planning and project development require meaningful input from the public. Many members of the public are genuinely interested in what is happening in their community but do not know how they can effectively provide input to influence the outcome of a transportation plan or project. How does a transportation agency grab and hold the public’s interest in a project or plan and convince people that active involvement is worthwhile? How does an agency provide the means for the public to have direct and meaningful impacts on decisions? This guide provides a variety of tools to secure meaningful input from the public on transportation plans, programs, and projects—and it can help agencies improve their overall public involvement techniques.
  • Better Plans for Better Places: How the Sustainable Communities Initiative changed the way the country plans for a prosperous future   NEW!
    The Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) represents the most comprehensive federal support for community and regional planning in recent history. Never before has the federal government provided funding for planning that spans the environmental, social and economic challenges facing our communities. This investment enabled people and organizations in 143 places, representing nearly 40 percent of the US population, to work together--across jurisdictions, sectors, all manner of old divides--in broad and deep coalitions toward ambitious goals of vibrant, healthy, livable communities. These diverse places--urban and rural, regions and neighborhoods, thriving and more challenged--were supported by a team of experienced organizations using innovative techniques to build community capacity in myriad ways. Their results will have lasting impacts for the 145 million residents living in grantee communities and beyond.
  • A Guide to Transportation Decisionmaking   NEW!
    Have you ever wondered how decisions are made about the transportation projects that affect your life? How do government officials decide where to put a bus stop, road, or bridge? How are these and other transportation projects planned? And how can you make sure your opinions are heard and considered by residents, planners, designers, and elected officials? The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) created this guide to answer these and other transportation project-related questions. We hope this guide will help you understand how transportation decisions are made at the local, State, and national levels; and that you will take advantage of the opportunities provided to contribute your ideas. We believe that the better the public understands the transportation decisionmaking process, the more certain it is that the transportation system will be safe and efficient, and that the planning process will be responsive to public needs and concerns about their communities and the natural environment. A revised version of this guide was published in April 2015.
  • Case studies related to public engagement
  • How to Engage Low-Literacy and Limited-English-Proficiency Populations in Transportation Decision-making - An FHWA report that documents best practices in identifying and engaging low-literacy and limited-English-proficiency populations in transportation decisionmaking. The booklet also provides outreach techniques for these populations.
  • FHWA Public Involvement Reference Tool
  • NCHRP report: Report 710: Practical Approaches for Involving Traditionally Underserved Populations in Transportation Decisionmaking
  • NTI/NHI course: Public Involvement in Transportation Decisionmaking
  • Public Involvement Techniques for Transportation Decision Making - This is a reference work that makes a wide variety of public involvement techniques available to transportation agencies. It includes the 14 techniques originally published in Innovations in Public Involvement for Transportation Planning. There are four chapters with subsections that group techniques thematically by function. Each chapter ends with a final subsection called "Taking Initial Steps."
  • TCRP syntheses:
  • Transportation Planning Process Resource Guide
  • Working with Community-Based Organizations on Transportation Planning (Florida International University) - The Project main objectives are as follows: 1) Identify the circumstances under which partnerships with community based organizations would be the most effective, 2) Provide support for government agencies to partner with community-based organizations and report on the successes and issues in using community-based groups to support agency planning and project development activities and 3) Provide documentation on (1) and (2) for purposes of dissemination. Project should attempt to be national in scope (issues), but local in implementation.

Click here to access a full list of Legislation, Regulations, and Guidance related to public engagement planning on the TPCB website.

Calendar of Events

Check the calendar

Peer Event Reports

The TPCB peer program is a free resource for agencies in need of transportation planning assistance. Visit the peer program page to learn more or apply for a peer event.

Related Websites and Organizations

  • Access Board - Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to developing and maintaining accessibility requirements for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, and for electronic and information technology, provides a listing of transportation-related accessibility resources.
  • Census Issues - Census population data are used in many transportation planning applications including population forecasting, travel demand modeling and microsimulation, Title VI analysis and land use analysis. The US Census definition of "urbanized areas" is used in the Federal determination of MPOs. Planning (PL) and STP funds are based upon urbanized area populations. The transportation planning community, through AASHTO, contracts for a special tabulation from Census data called the Census Transportation Planning Package (CTPP). The CTPP focuses on the journey-to-work, and other tables helpful for transportation planning (including household size, household income, and vehicle availability).
  • Center for Community Change - The mission of the Center for Community Change is to build the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color, to change their communities and public policies for the better. The Center strengthens, connects and mobilizes grassroots groups to enhance their leadership, voice and power.
  • Choosing Visualization for Transportation: Choosing Visualization for Transportation Knowledge Sharing Web Portal, a project funded by the Federal Transit Administration's Public Transportation Participation Pilot (PTPP) program. This web portal is designed to be your one-stop shop for effectively applying visualization tools and techniques in public involvement.
  • EPA public involvement website
  • FHWA Public Involvement/Public Participation Website
  • FTA Public Involvement Website
  • HUD public involvement website
  • International Association for Public Participation
  • Planning Assistance Tool: The Planning Assistant has reasonable choices of public involvement techniques.
  • Public Involvement - Learning the viewpoints and opinions of the stakeholders in transportation projects is one of the chief elements of the project development process.
  • Public Transportation Participation Pilot Program (PTP Program) - The Federal Transit Administration seeks proposals for research that will develop innovative approaches to improving public participation in the planning of public transportation. Research is sponsored through the Public Transportation Participation Pilot Program, created as part of SAFETEA-LU.
  • State-by-State Summaries of the Processes Used and Local Views on Them (April 2001) - A supplemental report to the Rural Transportation Consultation Processes (May 2000) that contains state-by-state summaries of the transportation processes used during state consultations with local officials. The document also contains local perspectives on these processes.
  • TRB Committee on Public Involvement
  • Visualization - Visualization can provide the public and decision makers a clear idea of the proposed policies, plans and Transportation Improvement Programs and the impacts to the human and natural environment. Visuals can make information instantly or intuitively understandable. The new technology has made it possible to communicate what the proposals may look like when implemented.
  • White House Office of Public Engagement
For more information about the TPCB program, contact Michelle Noch at FHWA (202-366-9206) or Tonya Holland at FTA (202-493-0283).

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