A Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is the policy board of an organization created and designated to carry out the metropolitan transportation planning process. MPOs are required to represent localities in all urbanized areas (UZAs) with populations over 50,000, as determined by the U.S. Census. MPOs are designated by agreement between the governor and local governments that together represent at least 75 percent of the affected population (including the largest incorporated city, based on population) or in accordance with procedures established by applicable state or local law. When submitting a transportation improvement program to the state for inclusion in the statewide program, MPOs self-certify that they have met all federal requirements.
An urbanized area with a population over 200,000, as defined by the Bureau of the Census and designated by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), is called a Transportation Management Area (TMA). As described in 49 U.S.C. 5303(k), and in recognition of the greater complexity of transportation issues in large urban areas, an MPO in a TMA has a stronger voice in setting priorities for implementing projects listed in the transportation improvement program and are responsible for additional planning products. The planning processes in MPOs in TMAs also must be certified by the Secretary of DOT as being in compliance with federal requirements.
23 CFR 450 - Planning Assistance and Standards - Federal transportation planning regulations (this link goes to the highway version--the transit version, adopted by FTA at 49 CFR 613, is an identical copy which incorprates this section by reference).
FTA Circular 8100.1C - Program Guidance for Metropolitan Planning and State Planning and Research Program Grants - FTA program guidance for metropolitan planning and state planning and research program grants.
FAST Act Fact Sheet: Metropolitan, Statewide, & Non-Metropolitan Planning - Brief FTA fact sheet on the planning provisions in the FAST Act.
FHWA FAST Act Fact Sheet: Metropolitan Planning - FHWA fact sheet on the metropolitan planning provisions of the FAST Act.
U.S. Code Title 49, Chapter 53 - Public Transportation - This is the public transportation section of U.S. Code. The Metropolitan Transportation Planning statute is found at Section 5303; Statewide Transportation Planning is found at Section 5304; and Planning Programs are found at Section 5305. The Metro and Statewide Planning sections are identical to the corresponding sections of Federal Highways code, 23 U.S.C. 134 and 135.
Additional resources related to Metropolitan, Statewide & Non-Metropolitan Planning