If you don’t work for one of the 128 TMAs in the United States, then you may have not encountered the term before. Working in the industry, we see many eyes glaze over when we say we work at a “Transportation Management Association”. However, TMA’s play a very important role in the regions they serve, and if you aren’t working with one, you should start.
So what is a Transportation Management Association?
Before explaining the roles of a TMA, you need to know what one is. According to the leading advocate for commuter transportation, the Association for Commuter Transportation, a Transportation Management Association (or TMA) is…“an organized group applying carefully selected approaches to facilitating the movement of people and goods within an area.” Those “carefully selected approaches” are normally defined as transportation demand management strategies, which are strategies or policies to reduce the amount of traffic demand or redistribute the demand in space or time. The goals of a TMA can vary from location to location, but the main goal of TMAs is to reduce traffic congestion and increase mobility.
Within that goal are major roles TMAs play in order to accomplish their overarching agenda. There are, in fact, 5 major roles all TMAs play in the world of transportation:
#1) TMAs are Consultants
Many TMAs act as consultants to provide transportation advice and support to individual businesses. Member businesses contact TMAs to help with a variety of services like: vanpool programs, discounted transit passes, rideshare options, shuttle services, trip planning, and alternative transportation options in their area. TMAs also assist with public entities, such as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and SEPTA, in coordinating construction projects and outreach.
#2) TMAs are Informers
Due to the wide array of entities TMAs work with, they have a wealth of information for businesses and the public about important transportation issues in their service area. Because of the close collaborations with public entities like PennDOT and SEPTA, TMACC receives updates on road projects like, US 202 and Route 100 and then distributes information to the public. Want to know why a road was closed on your commute? Call you local TMA, and they’ll be able to tell you why.
#3) TMAs are Educators
TMAs can serve as educators to benefit employers, developers, public agencies, and customers about transportation problems and issues that exist in their service area, and solutions and strategies that can be employed to address them. For example, Pittsburgh has a large population of commuters who walk and bike. To educate the newest residents on best travel behaviors, Oakland TMA, hosted a traffic safety course for the students of Oakland college.
#4) TMAs are Advocates
It is not uncommon to find staff members of a TMA participating in local planning and economic development committees. Many TMAs have developed credibility with local governments, planning commissions, and chambers of commerce to promote better long-term transportation and land use planning. Working with a TMA can work in your favor. If you’re having trouble contacting the right people to make a change in your city’s transportation network, connecting with your local TMA is the first step in the right direction.
#5) TMAs are Transit Providers (sometimes)
In some instances, like with TMACC or Ride-On TMA, TMAs will provide public transportation services or shuttle services to their area. TMACC operates a public transportation service in Southern Chester County and Coatesville. Other TMAs, like GVFTMA, will operate shuttle services that are not on a timed schedule, but help to fulfill the need to move people, especially when other options are not available.
TMAs are important to your community in advancing mobility and enhancing infrastructure. Contact your local TMA today to see what role they can play for you. Or if you live in Chester County, contact us!