The National Academies

NCHRP 03-70 [Completed]

Multimodal Level of Service Analysis For Urban Streets

  Project Data
Funds: $1,100,000
Research Agency: Dowling And Associates
Principal Investigator: Rick Dowling
Effective Date: 3/14/2003
Completion Date: 12/31/2007


In many urban areas throughout the United States, there is a desire to evaluate transportation services of roadways from a multimodal perspective. Improvements to non-automobile modes are often emphasized to achieve community goals such as "Smart Growth" and curbing urban sprawl. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) and its predecessor the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) call for mainstreaming transit, pedestrian, and bicycle projects into the planning, design, and operation of the U.S. transportation system. In addition to measuring the levels of service for automobile users, measuring the levels of service for transit, pedestrian and bicycle users along U.S. roadways is also desired.

The current chapters of the Highway Capacity Manual 2000 (HCM 2000) that deal with urban streets essentially address level of service (LOS) only for automobile users. These chapters, perhaps more than any other part of the HCM 2000, should be the centerpiece of multimodal traffic analysis. Automobiles, trucks, transit, bicycles, and pedestrians share urban streets. The various modes interact with each other such that improvements in the quality of service for one mode may improve or lower the quality of service for another mode.

Nationally recognized analysis techniques exist for the highway (HCM 2000) and transit modes [Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual (TCQSM)]. Analysis techniques for the pedestrian and bicycle modes, however, are not as well established. Although there are some components of a multimodal analysis approach, such as techniques for determining the impact of automobile traffic on bus lanes in the TCQSM, no nationally accepted method exists for combining the automobile, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian modes in an integrated analysis. Some initial research has been conducted for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) that resulted in the state adopting planning and preliminary engineering multimodal LOS measures, analysis techniques, and software. (This work is documented in Transportation Research Record 1776, Multimodal Level of Service at a Planning Level, Guttenplan, et al. 2001).

Compounding the challenge of developing an integrated multimodal analysis is the fact that most evaluation techniques have been developed from a modal perspective and LOS thresholds may not match well when one mode is compared with another. It is assumed that this project will continue the practice of using the same LOS for automobiles and trucks.


This is a two-stage research project. The objective of the first stage is to develop and test a framework and enhanced methods for determining levels of service for automobile, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian modes on urban streets, in particular with respect for the interaction among the modes. The objective of the second stage of the research is to validate and refine the framework and enhanced methods developed in Stage 1, propose new material for future editions of the HCM and the TCQSM, and develop sample problems and initial software.

Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.

STAGE I TASKS (1.) Review state of practice. (2.) Address the comparability of LOS across modes. (3.) Identify problem areas and develop a framework and enhanced methods. (4.) Prepare a working paper . (5.) Propose an approach to test the framework . (6.) Prepare an interim report that documents the results of Tasks 1 through 5 and prepare a preliminary research plan and budget for Stage 2 of this research project .

STAGE II TASKS (1. ) Prepare updated level of service (LOS) framework (2 .) Collect data on LOS perceptions of the traveling public. (3 .) Fit LOS models to data. (4. ) Prepare Interim Report. (5. ) Develop a draft chapter for the HCM, that presents the framework and enhanced methods for multimodal LOS analysis for urban streets at planning and operational levels. ( 6 . ) Develop software engine to implement LOS models. ( 7. ) Prepare sample problems. ( 8 .) Prepare a final report for this research project. ( 9 .) Present project status and results to appropriate TRB committees.


The project was initiated Spring 2003. This is a 2-stage project. The reseach team has completed the first stage of this project. $650,000 in funding for Stage 2 have been approved for this project. This second phase is currently underway.

Product Availability: NCHRP Report 616: Multimodal Level of Service Analysis for Urban Streets is available for purchase and download; the multimodal level of service (MMLOS) user’s guide was published as NCHRP Web-Only Document 128.  During 2009 the third and final phase of this project was completed.   In 2010, the Phase 3 report will be published as a new Web-Doc, (2) the corrected copy of NCHRP Report 616 will replace the existing pdf, (3) the corrected copy of NCHRP Web-Doc 128 will replace the existing Web-Doc 128, and (4) the errata sheets will be available for the 2008 publications of NCHRP Report 616 and NCHRP Web-Only Document 128.          

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