The Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study (CUUATS), an entity of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, designed and carried out an ambitious public outreach strategy for the Long Range Transportation Plan: Sustainable Choices 2040. The strategy included a variety of innovative and coordinated methods to educate the public about the long range transportation planning process, raise awareness of existing transportation services, collect public input regarding the LRTP, and facilitate visioning sessions regarding the future of the region. The multi-pronged approach taken by CUUATS included an interactive website, informational videos, a social media campaign, an outreach bus, and dynamic public meetings between February 2013 and June 2014.
To garner local support and produce a Long Range Transportation Plan that is grounded in a shared vision for the future, CUUATS encouraged resident involvement by meeting people on their own terms and encouraging them to interact with the LRTP 2040 in the method they are most comfortable with. By using an LRTP outreach bus to attend local public events planners were able to re-work the traditional model of a public meeting and focus their time at outreach events engaging and interacting with members of the public on their own terms and in a place of their choosing, rather than presenting to them in a static environment that was chosen for them. In this way, the planners allowed the public to be in charge of the interaction rather than the other way around. Thanks to the opportunities to connect, face-to-face, with people from all parts of the community while attending events with the LRTP outreach bus, planners were able to better understand input from local residents that could never have been captured on a comment card at a traditional meeting. During the previous LRTP for the region, only about 77 total people attended 4 public meetings held throughout the course of the plan. For the LRTP 2040, planners collected over 1,500 pieces of public input.