Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



metropolitan planning organizations, equity, project prioritization


Transportation investments shape communities and quality of life by influencing the ability of residents to safely and conveniently access employment, health care, recreation, shopping, and other services. When identifying needs and selecting projects for funding, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) must consider multiple factors and balance their investments among competing interests and priorities. Achieving an equitable balance among these factors and interests is critical because of the competitive nature of MPO planning and programming processes and the importance of each factor in enhancing the transportation system of the region. Identifying and selecting projects that promote equity and access to opportunity is essential for addressing the mobility and accessibility needs of historically disadvantaged populations. This final report is intended to serve as a resource for MPOs across the nation wishing to better integrate equity considerations into their project prioritization processes. It is based on a national and Florida-specific review of the project prioritization practices of thirty-five MPOs relative equity and access to opportunity for disadvantaged communities. Findings were obtained through a synthesis of numerous planning documents and interviews with MPO agency staff for additional insights. The review revealed that MPOs use a variety of methods for prioritizing projects for communities of concern (COCs) including mapping equity areas for an unbiased distribution of projects, scoring and weighting equity factors as part of prioritization formulas, holistic approaches, public involvement targeted at transportation disadvantaged populations, performance measures and targets, and equity assessments and analyses of groups of projects. MPOs that include equity as a vision and explicit goal are more likely to ensure that the planning process addresses the needs of disadvantaged populations. Systematically prioritizing projects for COCs and considering user benefits of projects specific to those populations (regardless of project type or mode) are important in selecting projects that benefit the target communities. Having an effective process to engage COCs during project prioritization is critical to understand actual versus perceived needs of those communities. Larger MPOs and those with more resources should consider dedicating a certain amount of funding for the purpose of increasing equity in project prioritization. Transparency of efforts to advance equity in project prioritization and planning is important to public trust and awareness and MPOs should ensure that equity strategies are obvious in all stages of the planning and programing process. Finally, equity should be evaluated from multiple perspectives and from an access to opportunity standpoint.