The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 47-17 [Active (Synthesis)]

Statewide and Mega-Regional Travel Forecasting Models: Freight and Passenger
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 10/6/2015 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Crawford Jencks
Research Agency: WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff
Principal Investigator: Rick Donnelly
Effective Date: 11/1/2015
Fiscal Year: 2015

Final Scope


Statewide and mega-region travel demand models are used to help formulate plans and policies, to evaluate and prioritize projects and programs, and to assess the economic and social impacts of major transportation investments. In response to recent policies focused on planning for mega-regions, intercity travel and freight planning, these models have become far more commonplace and have increasingly implemented advanced modeling techniques such as population synthesis, tour-based travel, and dynamic traffic assignment. Stakeholders in statewide and mega-region models, including state transportation agencies, regional planning agencies, FHWA and University Transportation Centers, have lessons to learn and share not just with respect to technical advances, but also with respect to organizational challenges such as implementation sequencing, funding mechanisms, staffing and data sources. The synthesis proposed in this problem statement strives not just to be a snapshot of current models, but also to study the methods and practices that successful states and other agencies have employed to develop effective and affordable large area models.

Currently, about 40 states have operational statewide models with varying levels of maturity and complexity. In addition, several multi-state and mega-regional models have been created for various special purposes and FHWA is conducting exploratory efforts to create national travel modeling capability. States that do not have statewide travel demand modeling capacity are looking for information regarding the technical state of practice, performance metrics that can be usefully estimated by large area models, costs and strategies for implementation, and the role such models can play in the statewide planning process. States with some degree of travel demand modeling capacity are also interested in positioning themselves better to address new and emerging policy issues such as comprehensive performance-based planning and freight planning.

The synthesis will broadly document how the state of the practice in national, mega-regional and statewide travel demand models has advanced and continues to evolve.
The synthesis will address, but not be limited to, the following specific topics:

1. The reasons for creating statewide and megaregional models, and how these models have responded to SHRP2 and MAP21 performance measures.
2. National, multi-state, mega-regional and statewide travel demand models across the nation, addressing both passenger and freight, comparing and contrasting the models, focusing not just on the current state of the model but also the past and projected development path followed by the agency.
3. The hierarchical nature of statewide models relative to regional models, what model type is best for different analyses, and the pros and cons of using common data assumptions and sources.
4. Data used in large area models, the availability of such data, and technical and other challenges in using new and emerging passive data sources as well as data-driven forecasting techniques
5. Existing and emerging applications of large area models including high speed and intercity rail projects, multi-state corridor projects, tolling analysis/funding shortfalls, project prioritization and design, freight planning, economic analysis, and traffic forecasting needs external to MPO areas.
6. Specific examples of advanced methods used in large area travel demand models that better reflect congestion and reliability outcomes. These include integrated land use models, population synthesis, tour based models, economic models dependent upon large-area TDMs, and time-sensitive network techniques such as dynamic traffic assignment.
7. Emerging trends for simplified and strategic models for rapid response to policy issues, including shorter run times.
8. Institutional constraints on data consistency

Information will be gathered by literature review and a survey of the voting members of the AASHTO Standing Committee on Planning. This may include interviews to gather more detailed information from states that have advanced practices. Information on megaregion modeling will be gathered from the state DOTs and multistate coalitions such for I-81, 1-95, and I-5. The entities and persons to be consulted on megaregional models will be included in the consultant work plan, for panel review. The products from FHWA research on national models will be considered (consult Tianjia Tang).

The report will include 5 diverse case studies of exemplary practices including at least 3 cases not developed by the contracting firm, Diversity may include geography, complexity, implementation strategy, issues addressed, and other. These will be identified in the work plan for panel review.

Based on gaps in knowledge and practice, the report will identify research needs.

Information Sources:

1. NCHRP SYNTHESIS 406 Advanced Practices in Travel Forecasting
2. NCHRP SYNTHESIS 358 Statewide Travel Forecasting Models (Year 2006)
3. NCHRP 8-36B Task 91: Validation and Sensitivity Considerations for Statewide Models (2010)
4. NCHRP Report 735 Long-Distance and Rural Transferable Parameters for Statewide Travel Forecasting Models 


TRB Staff

Crawford Jencks


Meeting Dates

First Panel: October 6, 2015, Washington, DC

Teleconference with Consultant: October 23, 2015, 1:30 p.m., ET

Second Panel: June 20, 2016, Woods Hole, MA


Panel Members

Rebekah Anderson, Ohio DOT
Alexander O. Bettinardi, Oregon DOT
Frederick W. Ducca, University of Maryland
Douglas D. MacIvor, California DOT
Phillip J. Mescher, Iowa DOT
Mike R. Schofield, Texas DOT
Benjamin Hawkinson, Federal Highway Administration
Jeremy Raw, Federal Highway Admininstration
Kimberly Fisher, Transportation Research Board

Phone: 202-334-3245

Email: cjencks@nas.edu


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