Traffic management

Table of Contents

4. Network Operation Plan

As there are often competing priorities between transport modes and adjacent land uses a Network Operation Plan (NOP) aims to guide the operation and development of the road/transport network towards managing competing priorities.

While an NOP contains the short-term initiatives and services that guide day-to-day operations, an NOP may also include longer term improvement works that would facilitate or support the day‑to‑day operation of the network.

An NOP describes the following:

  • the intent of the operation of the network, which includes the network operation objectives and the relative priorities of transport modes
  • network performance
  • network strategies that would guide the implementation of priorities of transport modes and reduction of performance gaps
  • plans for the management and operation of the network by time-of-day and day-of-week
  • an action plan for the physical improvement of the network
  • processes to review and update the NOP

Any network of roads that have operational dependencies on each other can have an NOP. An NOP could be developed for a specific area (e.g. Sydney CBD); a local government area (e.g. City of Yarra); or for a whole city or town (e.g. Adelaide greater metropolitan area).

A short-term (i.e. 1–5 years) planning horizon is recommended for an NOP, and the initiatives are generally operational in nature and scale. Longer term planning horizons (i.e. > 10 years) are used when network improvements requiring major civil works would form part of the NOP.

An NOP is sometimes also referred to as a Plan of Operational Management or the outcome is referred to as Planning for Operations in some jurisdictions.

An NOP underpins higher level strategic plans. The key planning principles in an NOP are:

  • moving people and goods instead of vehicles
  • seeing transport as supporting broader community goals
  • balancing the competing demands of various road user groups for limited road space and time
  • thinking ‘networks’, rather than corridors, routes, links or nodes
  • stakeholder consultation as a key input to the planning process
  • collaboration with transport partners (e.g. bus operators, related agencies, etc.)
  • providing safer road travel for all road users and moving towards the broader application of the Safe System approach to the road network by reducing the risk of death and serious injury to road users
  • operational intent determines the priority, design and scale of network improvement projects
  • ‘fit for purpose’ management based on adoption of agreed road use hierarchies and networks

Case examples of NOPs can be found in the Austroads report The Application of Network Operations Planning Frameworks to Assist with Congestion Management and Integrated Land Use and Transport (Austroads 2013b). More case examples in Victoria can be found in Bittner, Burdan and Witono (2011), Fitts (2012) and Wall (2011).

Accessibility-based NOP extends traditional NOP by focusing on targeted road users and their journeys rather than on just links. By extending the NOP process to journeys, it looks at travel time and journey LOS in addition to traditional NOP measures such as mobility, safety, access information and amenity. This can be used to inform the development of operational strategies and treatments (Figure 4.1). Safe System principles have a particular influence on the safety NOP measures. Asset management is intertwined throughout all NOP measures as the different measures have different performance LOS elements as outlined in further detail later.

Figure 4.1: Network Operation Plan with consideration of accessibility needs of targeted road users

Source: Austroads (2015d).

Consideration of the accessibility of targeted road users requires detailed understanding of their origins, valued destinations, routes, travel time requirements and journey LOS needs. Typical valued-destinations include:

  • employment
  • schools
  • retail and recreation
  • health and community services
  • freight gateways and distribution centres

The operation of the road network contributes positively to accessibility if the travel times and the LOS of the journey to these destinations are acceptable (Figure 4.2). It is ideal that the operational strategies and treatments aim at improving accessibility of the targeted road users and also support the needs of the general road users. It is possible that operational strategies and treatments that enhance accessibility of the targeted road users will have negative impacts on the general road users. These trade-offs need to be resolved with community and stakeholder participation.

Figure 4.2: Quality of accessibility based on travel time and journey LOS

Source: Austroads (2015d).

Further details of accessibility-based NOP for consideration of use by road agencies as part of NOP is outlined in Austroads (2015d). This includes defining the accessibility-based NOP framework.