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Public Participation and Social Media

Are you listening to your customers? Public participation long has been an expectation in planning and decision-making. Thanks to new media, there are a lot of ways we can engage our customers in exciting, meaningful ways. These publications and resources address Public Participation and Social Media with respect to human services and coordinated transportation planning.

Featured Resources

Public Participation Strategies for Transit (PDF)(5 MB)
By the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP Synthesis 89)
The purpose of this synthesis was to document the state of the practice in terms of public participation strategies to inform and engage the public for transit-related activities to provide ideas and insights into practices and techniques that agencies have found to be most successful, as well as to explore challenges faced. Specific techniques and the methods by which transit agencies execute public involvement strategies are seen as constantly evolving and bounded only by the creativity of practitioners.

The United We Ride National Dialogue Final Report (PDF)(235 KB)
By the National Academy of Public Administration for the Federal Interagency Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility
The United We Ride National Dialogue brought together key stakeholders using collaborative web-based technologies to discuss the following broad question: "What ideas can improve access to affordable and reliable transportation for people with disabilities, older adults, and people with limited incomes?" The Dialogue platform included several analytical tools that provided tremendous opportunity to cross-reference ideas and comments submitted by participants in answering this central question.

Engaging Stakeholders Online

Promising Practices in Online Engagement (PDF)(260 KB)
By Public Agenda
Excerpt: "In this paper on promising practices in online engagement, we take a closer look at a selection of online engagement practices, from high-level national politics to our most immediate public realms, our neighborhoods. The patterns of opinion-shaping, dialogue, and decision making on each level have changed through the widespread availability of new communication tools. Nonetheless, the differences between scope of engagement and communication tools can be tremendous. We highlight multiple approaches that bring together individuals from all sides in meaningful dialogue."

Sharing Because We Care: OCTA's Social Media Guide for Public Involvement
By Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)
From the introduction: "OCTA's social media program is integrated into our public outreach efforts. It does not replace-but rather enhances-our ongoing communications and outreach work. OCTA's Public "E-volvement" Program optimizes community involvement and public participation utilizing cost-effective social media tools to create opportunities for meaningful public engagement. In today's ever-changing media landscape with decreasing coverage from the news media and rapidly growing social networking sites, it's crucial to be where the public is."

Helping Stakeholders Organize

Effective Use of Citizen Advisory Committees for Transit Planning and Operations (PDF)(1.2 MB)
By the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP Synthesis 85)
This synthesis describes the state of the practice for involving advisory committees in transit planning and operations, exploring the experiences from a few agencies in detail. The purpose of this report is to provide practitioners with guidance about how their colleagues across the country are involving advisory committees and ideas for how to structure successful advisory committees.

A Citizen's Guide to Better Streets (PDF)(2.6 MB)
By the Project for Public Spaces
Excerpt: "Is it any wonder that the layout of American communities has been heavily influenced by transportation engineers while citizens, elected officials, planners and advocacy groups have played a minor role? If we can transform the way the transportation establishment views its mandate, we can rapidly and positively affect the quality of communities across the country. This guide is intended to show people who are passionate about creating better streets and walkable communities how they can influence highway professionals to address transportation in ways that place the most value on people and on places."

A Guide to Transportation Decision-Making (PDF)(1.9 MB)
By the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration
This guide was created to answer transportation project-related questions and to help citizens understand how transportation decisions are made at the local, State, and national levels. The better the public understands the transportation decision-making 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.

The DOs and DON'Ts of Working with Local Communities: Tips for Successful Community-Based Public Meetings
By the Journal of Extension
Communities must be provided with a forum to express residents' opinions on proposed public policies through effective community-based public meetings. Planning is essential to conducting an effective public meeting. To be successful, an effective public policy education process must be implemented before, during, and after the public meeting.

Outreach to Underserved Populations

Developing Public Participation Tools in Transit-Dependent Communities
By the Project for Public Spaces
Engaging minority, non-English speaking, and low-income communities in transportation planning represents an enormous challenge for planners, designers, government agencies, and municipal officials alike. Low-income constituencies are more dependent on walking, biking, and using transit than other population sub-groups, yet they do not often get the opportunity to articulate how their community's transportation infrastructure could be enhanced to better meet their needs.

How to Engage Low-Literacy and Limited-English-Proficiency Populations in Transportation Decision-Making (PDF)(1.9 MB)
By the Federal Highway Administration
Excerpt: "It is Federal Highway Administration policy to provide meaningful access to transportation decision-making to all affected and interested people. Executive Order 13166, Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency, requires this outreach include people of limited English proficiency. Combined with nondiscrimination statutes, meaningful access would extend to people who cannot read and understand what is read; thus, the need to include outreach to low-literate populations as well. This booklet provides examples of outreach techniques that might be used or modified to outreach to these two groups as well as others."

Including People with Disabilities in Coordinated Transportation Plans (PDF)(244 KB)
By Easter Seals Project ACTION (Accessible Community Transportation In Our Nation)
This resource provides ideas and suggestions for increased involvement by people with disabilities in communities' coordination efforts toward accessible transportation. Publication is designed to support people with disabilities in their participation and for the communities involving them in processes.

A New Day: We're Listening--Six Federal Partners' Listening Sessions
By the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor
In January 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy initiated this series of six listening sessions to engage stakeholders across the nation. The purpose of these sessions was to collect information and comments about best practices and key issues to be addressed by Federal workforce systems regarding the employability, employment, workforce participation, retention, and promotion of people with disabilities.

Sample Public Participation Plans

Classics in Coordination and Participation

A Framework for Action
By the Federal Transit Administration
Coordination helps to make the most efficient use of limited transportation resources. In communities where coordination is a priority, citizens benefit from improved service, lower costs and easier access to transportation. The Framework for Action is a comprehensive evaluation and planning tool to help state and community leaders and agencies involved in human service transportation and transit services, along with their stakeholders, improve or start coordinated transportation systems. Assessment and planning can be completed in one or two meetings. Implementation time will depend on the action items participants choose to pursue. Print copies of the self-assessment tool for communities and states are available from the NRC. Contact resources@ctaa.org to place an order.

Public Involvement Techniques for Transportation Decision
Published online in 1996 by the Department of Transportation
From the introduction: "For the transportation community, involving the public in planning and project development poses a major challenge. Many people are skeptical about whether they can truly influence the outcome of a transportation project, whether highway or transit. Others feel that transportation plans, whether at the statewide or metropolitan level, are too abstract and long-term to warrant attention. Often the public finds both metropolitan and statewide transportation improvement programs incomprehensible. How, then, does a transportation agency grab and hold people's interest in a project or plan, convince them that active involvement is worthwhile, and provide the means for them to have direct and meaningful impact on its decisions? This report gives agencies access to a wide variety of tools to involve the public in developing specific plans, programs, or projects through their public involvement processes."