Frequently Asked Questions

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Here are some of the most frequently asked questions the MPO staff hears when meeting with people in the region.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the MPO exist?
What does the MPO do?
What’s the difference between the MPO, CTPS, and MAPC?
What do the acronyms mean?
How can I learn what local transportation needs the MPO is aware of in my community?
How can I find MPO study reports or data?
How do I attend an MPO board or committee meeting?
How do I get updates about the MPO?
How do I submit an official comment to the MPO?
How can I have a more permanent voice in MPO decisions?
Does the MPO hear my feedback?
Who can I talk to if I have more questions?

Why does the MPO exist?

Congress created metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) to promote cooperation among state agencies, organizations, and local cities and towns that are involved in regional transportation planning. Every metropolitan area in the United States with a population of more than 50,000 people must have an MPO.

What does the MPO do?

The Boston Region MPO studies transportation issues and funds construction projects. The elected MPO board decides how to spend a portion of federal transportation money for the region. The board allocates money to projects such as Complete Street redesigns, intersection improvements, bicycle and pedestrian connections, and transit modernization. Representatives from state agencies and local cities and towns make up the MPO board. The Boston Region MPO Organization chart shows the structure of the MPO and its staff.

From Urban Renewal to the 3Cs: How CTPS and the Boston Region MPO Emerged from Battles Over Urban Highways charts the history of our MPO from the late 1940s to today.

In this video, MPO staff Executive Director Tegin Teich provides an overview of what MPOs are and how the Boston Region MPO operates.

For more information on MPOs, visit the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Metropolitan Planning and Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

To see all 13 MPOs in Massachusetts and how they work with the state, visit The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)’s Regional Planning page.

What’s the difference between the MPO, CTPS, and MAPC?

MPOs are elected boards. MPO members decide how to spend federal money on transportation and transportation-related projects, but they don’t do the everyday work of transportation planning. MPOs must have an agency that can be responsible for the day-to-day needs of transportation planning.

In most other regions around the country, that agency is the Regional Planning Agency (RPA). While MPOs are dedicated to transportation, RPAs help regions coordinate planning related to housing, zoning, the environment, arts and culture, and more. In our region, the RPA is called the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).

Instead of housing the MPO at MAPC in the Boston region, Massachusetts created a separate agency dedicated to transportation. This agency is the Central Transportation Planning Staff (CTPS). CTPS is sometimes referred to as the Central Transportation Staff to the Boston Region MPO or as MPO Staff. CTPS supports the MPO and also performs work on contract for agencies such as the MBTA.

MAPC and CTPS are closely related but function separately on a day-to-day basis, with their own leadership structures and missions. MAPC is the Vice-Chair and a voting member of the MPO Board. CTPS and MAPC share federal planning money for studies. CTPS and MAPC also collaborate on public outreach and some technical work.

What do the acronyms mean?

Transportation planning can be confusing and full of technical terms. Our Glossary is one resource to help you understand what everyone is talking about. We also offer guides that explain some of our programs.

Program Guides

How can I learn what local transportation needs the MPO is aware of in my community?

MAPC and the MPO divide the Boston region into eight smaller subregions to promote coordination among local cities and towns. The MPO staff has developed booklets to describe transportation needs in each subregion. The booklets are updated every year and help guide conversations with local planners and elected officials about new studies or project ideas.

How can I find MPO study reports or data?

Our transit planning and traffic engineering staff produce location studies and guides on important regional transportation issues. These are available on our Publications page. We also summarize some of our technical work on our blog, TransReport. Our data resources staff maintains a large amount of transportation-related data in the Data Catalog. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, you can submit a Data Inquiry and a member of staff will help you locate it.

How do I attend an MPO board or committee meeting?

The MPO board usually meets the first and third Thursdays of the month. The meetings are typically held at the State Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Boston. The MPO meeting calendar has agendas, materials, and Zoom links. We post recordings of MPO meetings to YouTube.

* The MPO board and committees are meeting on Zoom during COVID-19.

How do I get updates about the MPO?

Subscribe to our mailing list. In email preferences, choose the kinds of messages to receive from the following selections: MPO notices, MPO meeting reminders, TransReport news bulletin, Transportation Equity notices, and Regional Transportation Advisory Council notices.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

How do I submit an official comment to the MPO?

Anyone can submit a comment via mail, email, our online feedback form, or in person at an MPO board meeting. Official comments are considered public records. They could be included in board meeting packets or MPO documents. We provide time for public comments at the beginning of every MPO board meeting. Oral comments are entered into the public record as part of the MPO board meeting minutes.

*Because of COVID-19, MPO staff are working from home and have limited office access. We encourage members of the public to submit comments by email or feedback form.

Email

publicinfo@ctps.org

Feedback Form

bostonmpo.org/contact

Mail

State Transportation Building
10 Park Plaza
Suite 2150
Boston, MA 02116

How can I have a more permanent voice in MPO decisions?

Anyone can apply to serve on the Regional Transportation Advisory Council. The Advisory Council offers essential, independent advice to the MPO and has a voting seat on the MPO board.

Does the MPO hear my feedback?

Yes. One of the most important pieces of our outreach work is reporting what we hear to the MPO board. This ensures that board members are considering public feedback when they make decisions. One way we do that is by compiling the comments, and the other is by summarizing outreach efforts and feedback in written reports and presentations at MPO board meetings.

Who can I talk to if I have more questions?

Kate White
Public Outreach Coordinator
857.702.3658
kwhite@ctps.org