The purpose of this project was to assess the feasibility of an innovative way of delivering personalized travel time reliability information directly to drivers. More specifically, it developed a web-based application employing predictive algorithms driven by historical and real-time traffic data to provide pre-trip, time-dependent travel time information based on origin, destination, and departure time.
Research and planning work by the research team established the foundation for the development, demonstration and field trial of the IDEA product, which is a working prototype of a forecasting service that predicts travel time for a given route based on both historical patterns and current conditions, including incidents, weather, and work zones. The IDEA product manifested itself as a web site (MyRoadTripAdvisor.com) where visitors could use a planning tool to obtain travel time reliability forecasts for the current date and up to five days into the future. Registered users could save frequent trips by name, and optionally request the service to “push” travel time forecasts to them by email, text message or phone call in advance of their planned departure time, giving them the option to take an alternate route, work at home, etc., should their trip be forecasted to take longer than expected.
The IDEA product is unique in that it was designed to give drivers actionable intelligence in the form of travel time reliability predictions, offering them the possibility of avoiding congestion and its inevitable travel delays. While restricted to portions of I-66 in Northern Virginia by the limited scope of this project, the concept is applicable to any congestion-prone corridor. Innovation was demonstrated in this project in the areas of business processes and practices, travel time reliability forecasting methodology, and technology integration.
Demonstrations and a field trial of the service established the technical and business feasibility of the IDEA concept. The project successfully created an extensible service framework that can be expanded in follow-on projects to provide metro-wide network coverage, and be integrated into travel information systems operated by state DOTs or commercial enterprises. The contractor's final report is available.