Through federal regulations, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are mandated to perform public outreach and impact assessment. Although there are some established parameters, the quality and effectiveness of public outreach efforts vary widely, and in many instances information dissemination becomes the central focus of public outreach efforts. However, information dissemination, although essential, is not as effective as a two-way process of public involvement in which members of the public may provide feedback to shape agency initiatives. Research conducted for the Ferry Parking and Landside Access Study is used to describe best practices in public outreach, focusing on socioeconomic and community impact assessment. The landside access study represents a dedicated effort by the New York MPO to approach planning for waterborne services by using a comprehensive approach based on land use. With emphasis on land-use criteria, the focus is on people and impact, unlike the traditional demand analysis seen in past ferry studies. By acknowledging regulatory shortcomings and outlining a plan for implementing public outreach and impact assessment, success for consensus building is likely. Practitioners are encouraged to examine the effectiveness of their own public outreach and impact assessment methods.
Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No.2077, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2008, pp 39-45. DOI:10.3141/2077-06