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Highway Information Quarterly

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Transportation Users Views of Quality

The Office of Highway Information Management recently released the report, Transportation Users Views of Quality, designed to provide an understanding of the public's perception regarding the transportation services it receives. The data for this report came from the 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) pretest. The NPTS was a national telephone survey that used random-digit dialing sampling methodology to obtain a stratified random sample of U.S. households. To capture a segment of this sample, 4,000 adults were asked a series of questions about their reactions to many aspects of travel, with emphasis on elements of the road system, where most of their travel occurs.

Respondents rated 13 travel elements of the transportation on a four-point scale (Figure 1). Overall, almost all elements were rated positively, typically with above 60 percent giving each of the elements a combined rating of Excellent or Good. Passenger Air Travel received the highest ratings with 74 percent rating it Excellent or Good. Also reflecting high marks was Freeway Pavement Quality which showed 66 percent rating it Excellent or Good. Local Street Pavement Quality was rated at 51 percent. Freeway Pavement Quality ratings were almost uniformly superior to Local Street Pavement Quality across all age categories, while older adults tended to be more positive in their ratings than younger adults.

The elements with the lowest proportion indicating a good or excellent rating were Bicycle Lanes And Routes at 48 percent, Local Pavement Quality at 51 percent, and Intercity Rail Service at 52 percent.

Figure 1

Would you evaluate this as Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor in your area?
Elements Excellent
Observations1 %
Highway Travel Elements
Freeway Pavement Quality 12 54 26 8 100 1144 66
Connections To Other Modes 13 51 23 13 100 966 64
Safety Of Highway Travel 9 54 29 8 100 1111 63
Lack Of Major Highway Delay 15 45 28 12 100 1154 60
Local Street Pavement Quality 7 44 30 19 100 1151 51
Urban Travel Elements
Local Rail Transit 23 40 20 17 100 212 64
Local Bus Service 13 51 23 13 100 476 64
Elderly/Handicapped Services 14 52 23 11 100 608 66
Sidewalks 13 49 25 13 100 900 62
Bicycle Lanes and Routes 13 35 28 24 100 601 48
Intercity Travel Elements
Passenger Air Travel 18 55 20 7 100 827 74
Intercity Bus Use 8 52 23 17 100 453 60
Intercity Rail Services 9 43 21 27 100 442 52

Other topics in the report focus on views on highway travel problems (crime against motorists, air pollution, being stranded, traffic tie-ups, traffic crashes, etc.), and comparison of these responses by gender, kind and size of metropolitan area, and background information on the source and accuracy of sample data use in the 1995 NPTS.

For copies of the report, Transportation Users Views of Quality, (FHWA-PL-98-013)

Federal Highway Administration
Research and Technology Report Center
9701 Philadelphia Court
Unit Q
Lanham, MD 20706
Telephone: 301-577-0818 or FAX: 301-577-1421

For further information, please contact, Bryant Gross, HPM-40, telephone 202-366-5026 or E-mail: Bryant.Gross@fhwa.dot.gov.

1Total respondent observations--respondents were randomly divided into three groups of about 1,350 for these questions. Respondents who did not provide an opinion were either unfamiliar with the category or otherwise chose not to respond.

Strategic Reassessment of the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS)

The Phase 1 Final Report was completed and widely disseminated for comment. The report documents the first phase results of the FHWA study of the agency's HPMS. The purpose of the study was to assist FHWA in its comprehensive review of the data system and to provide guidance to the agency as to the future form and direction that this major FHWA data system should take. The study report represents a culmination of several serial activities, including the identification and assessment of the impacts of the HPMS on the FHWA, its State and other governmental partners, and the many and varied HPMS customers; the results of an extensive outreach program that was capped by a national HPMS workshop held in June 1997; and the subsequent assimilation of these inputs into a set of interim recommendations to FHWA. The report is available on the Internet at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi/.

The next phase of the project, including a recommended data item review and the development of a prototype replacement to the existing HPMS, is now underway. This activity will be completed in coordination with the HPMS Steering Committee which is tentatively slated to meet in Washington, D.C. in mid-June. Shortly after the conclusion of that meeting, FHWA expects to have a prototype HPMS that can be reviewed widely outside of FHWA. For additional information, contact Jim Getzewich at telephone 202-366-0175, or e-mail jim.getzewich@fhwa.dot.gov.

ITS As a Data Resource Workshop

A workshop entitled "ITS As a Data Resource" sponsored by ITS America, in association with the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), was held January 9-10, 1998, in Washington, D.C. The nearly 100 participants included representatives from MPOs, local, State, and Federal Government agencies plus consultants and academics in the field. The purpose of this workshop was to bring together the relevant stakeholders who are collectors and users of data that could be provided through the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). Real-time performance data already in ITS are a valuable resource that can be extracted, archived, and made available to a variety of data users for planning, policy, etc.

The overall objective of the workshop was to prepare findings and recommendations that will be incorporated into a user-requirements document for consideration in revising the ITS National Architecture. The workshop showed that there is much interest in using ITS-generated data for other purposes and that there is a great variety of users and uses of these data. A user requirements document will be developed and is expected to be used to begin the process of adding a new user service to ITS that covers archived data.

For further information, please contact Ralph Gillmann, HPM-30, at telephone 202-366-5042.

NPTS Symposium Held October 29-31, 1997

Nearly 100 people attended the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) Symposium, held in Bethesda, Maryland. The Acting Federal Highway Administrator Gloria J. Jeff opened the conference and discussed the Department of Transportation's Strategic Plan and how findings from NPTS fit into the plan and link to its five goals--Mobility, Safety, Economic Growth & Trade, Human & Natural Environment, and National Security.

Mobility--The NPTS includes measures of vehicle availability; trip/miles per person by purpose, mode, time of day; transit access; and public's views of access and system performance. NPTS shows that Americans continue to make more trips and travel more miles; however, some segments of the population are still less able to meet their daily needs due to constraints on traveling that may be economic or geographic.

Safety--NPTS includes measures of time spent driving; miles traveled by age and sex; miles traveled by vehicle type, walk and bike trips, and composition and use of the private vehicle fleet. As one example, the continuing aging of the vehicle fleet says that safety features in new vehicles are slow to permeate the entire fleet.

The other elements of the DOT Strategic Plan which were related to the NPTS were productivity, related to congestion and perceptions of congestion; and human and natural environment, related to demographic trends and urban development, and air quality issues related to the vehicle fleet.

Four papers using the recently issued 1995 NPTS data set were presented and discussed.

Daphne Spain, Professor at the University of Virginia, presented a paper on the Aging Baby Boom which generated vigorous discussion about individual decisions on residential location, and financial incentives by governments to encourage people to move to the central cities. The paper by Don Pickrell, Chief Economist, Volpe Center, and Paul Schimek on Personal Motor Vehicle Ownership and Use, documenting the continuing aging of the vehicle fleet, and the fleet composition increasingly of light trucks and sport utility vehicles, raised many questions related to air quality. In the paper on the Interaction of Land Use and Transportation, Catherine Ross (Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology) and Anne Dunning showed that increasing population density corresponds to lower vehicle miles of travel (VMT) per person and increasing choice of transit as a mode. However, it is not until densities of 10,000 persons per square mile are reached that seems to affect mode choice, with increasing proportions of walk, bike and transit trips. Elaine Murakami, FHWA, and Jennifer Young, University of Tennessee, discussed the travel patterns of Low Income Households. Although the number of household vehicles in the U.S. equals the number of drivers, low-income households are much more likely to be without any private vehicles. If they have a car, the car tends to be quite old and tends to be driven fewer miles.

There were two policy panels at the symposium. The Federal panel, which was very lively, included Bob Noland (Environmental Protection Agency), Steve Bartolome-Hill (Health and Human Services), Bill Passero (Department of Labor), and Gloria Jeff (FHWA).

We anticipate proceedings from the conference, including final versions of the four papers, will be available by April 1998.

Visit us at our website: http://www-cta.ornl.gov/npts/.

For additional information, please contact Bryant Gross at 202-366-5026 or E-mail: Bryant.Gross@fhwa.dot.gov.

NPTS Data Confirm That Reliance on Private Vehicle Travel Often Reflects the Need to Make Stops on the Way to and from Work

The practice of making incidental stops on the way to or from a major destination (such as home or work) continues to be a significant feature of personal travel. This practice, commonly referred to as trip chaining, greatly influences the choice of transportation mode for commuting. The 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) shows that the 20 percent of all trips to work between 6 - 9 A.M. originate from a place other than home, e.g., a school, a store, or another person's house. (Figure 2)

Work as Destination Trips

For those who leave work between 4 - 7 P.M., approximately 30 percent go from work to someplace other than home. These destinations include dropping off or picking up someone, errand-running, shopping, and going to another job or a stop related to work, as shown in Figure 3.

Work as Origin Trips

Most trip chaining is conducted in privately operated vehicles (POV's) because that mode lends itself to the flexibility needed to make stops en route to work or home. The need to drop off a child at day care or school, to stop at a store for a quick purchase, to pick up dry cleaning, and a host of other errands, often precludes people from carpooling and using transit to get to work.

The commute to work continues to decline as a share of all travel. While 37 percent of all person trips start during the two traditional peak periods of 6 A.M. - 9 A.M. and 4 P.M.- 7 P.M., only10 percent of all person trips are trips to or from work during these two periods. However, the work trip often plays a pivotal role in daily travel because it determines how and when other daily travel is conducted.

The pie charts above represent a basic look at the 1995 NPTS data. The only trips considered were the one directly before the trip to work or first one after leaving work. Traditional trip chaining analyses will be conducted in the future to obtain a more comprehensive picture of why people stop en route to or returning from work. These will include examining:

and other characteristics of the people involved, the vehicle and the trip.

Trip chaining is one of many travel behavior topics that can be examined using the 1995 NPTS, which was released at a press conference on September 15, 1997. The press conference discussed the report "Our Nation's Travel." The report is the first in a planned series based on the 1995 NPTS. Deputy Administrator Gloria J. Jeff discussed the initial findings and implications of the Survey, including the impact of trip chaining and the continued growth of suburban employment as strong factors in the growth of private vehicle use.

The 1995 NPTS data and reports are available from the NPTS Website-- http://www-cta.ornl.gov/npts. Website support is available from Rick Goeltz, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 423-574-5958, E-mail: mailto:rtg@ornl.gov.

A CD-ROM containing the NPTS Public-Use data will be distributed to FHWA field offices shortly. Future reports will be distributed as they become available.

To obtain additional copies of the CD-ROM or reports, contact the FHWA Research & Technical Reports Center, 301-577-0818 (voice) or 301-577-1421 (fax).

For general information about the NPTS, contact NPTS staff at (telephone) 202-366-0160, (FAX) 202-366- 7742, or FHWA, HPM-40, Washington, D.C. 20590.

North American Travel Monitoring Exhibition and Conference (NATMEC '98)

The Federal Highway Administration, Transport Canada, North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Charlotte DOT are presenting NATMEC '98, May 11-15, 1998, in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is a continuation and expansion of the National Traffic Data Acquisition Conference (NATDAC) series.

The conference will provide an opportunity to examine and share state-of-the-art technology, knowledge, and progress in traffic data collection, analysis, and use. A comprehensive program will include informative presentations on traffic counting, vehicle classification, weigh-in-motion, vehicle occupancy, freight movement, travel time, etc. Opportunities for data collection from intelligent transportation systems (ITS) will be covered. There will also be an exhibition by equipment and data base vendors and technology demonstrations on current issues involving traffic data.

Updates and on-line registration are available on the Internet at http://itre.ncsu.edu/natmec/. Contact Pam Cloer for further information at (telephone) 919-515-7990 or (FAX) 919-515-8898, or Ralph Gillmann (FHWA), at telephone 202-366-5042.

Highway Information Seminar--1997

The Office of Highway Information Management's annual Highway Information Seminar was held on November 5-7, 1997, at the Holiday Inn Capitol, in Washington, D.C. The 3-day seminar, which is targeted at State planning officials who are involved in key data programs such as the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS), fuels and finance, traffic monitoring, etc., attracted approximately 70 State DOT, FHWA field, and metropolitan planning officials. The seminar is made up of both general and break-out sessions and provides an opportunity for participants to interact with key FHWA staff, discuss individual problem areas, and share experiences among the States. Outside speakers at this year's general sessions included Francis Francois, Executive Director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), who highlighted the various uses of highway statistics by national organizations, and Janet Oakley, Director of Transportation at the National Association of Regional Councils, who discussed the importance of data for decisionmaking.

For additional information, please contact Juanita Proctor, HPM-30, at telephone 202-366-5047, or E-mail juanita.proctor@fhwa.dot.gov.

FA-Series Tables Support Federal-aid Analyses

The FA-series tables published annually in Highway Statistics provide financial details on the Federal-aid funds that the Federal Government provides to the States for program purposes. These tables include:

Federal-aid Highway Apportionments (FA-4);
Federal-aid Highway Fund Apportionment Formulas (FA-4A);
Federal-aid Highway Fund Allocations (FA-4D);
Obligation of Federal-aid Highway Funds ( FA-4B);
Obligation of Federal-aid Highway Funds by Functional Class ( FA-4C);
Expenditure of Federal-aid Highway Funds by the Federal Highway Administration (FA-3);
Receipt and Expenditure for Highways by Federal agencies -- summary (FA-5);
Receipts and expenditures for Federal agencies (by State) -- summary (FA-21);
Obligation of National Highway System Funds & Surface Transportation Funds by Improvement Type (FA-6); and
Obligation of Federal-aid Highway Funds by Improvement Type (FA-10).

Besides the FA-series tables, the STP series provides information on Federal Surface Transportation Programs funds apportioned to the States, and some trend charts depict various financial and other detail. Most of the information in the FA-series is based on the Federal Highway Administration's Fiscal Management Information System (FMIS). Improvements in the FMIS, particularly on project improvement type data have enhanced this data and assisted in improved analyses. (See Highway Information Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 1, March 1997, for related articles). Other sources for FA-series data include State-reported data, information provided by other Federal agencies, and information included in Federal legislation.

In the interest of supporting Federal reauthorization analyses, the Office of Highway Information Management made available many 1996 FA-series tables in May 1997--some months before they would be published in Highway Statistics.

The following chart (Figure 4) displays typical information that is based on the FA-series.

Federal-Aid Highway Obligations By Improvement Type (1990-1996)

Federal Aid Highway Obligations by Type

For additional information on the FA-series, contact Leonard Goldberg, HPM-10, at 202-366-5024.

Information on Estimating Local Government Highway Bonds

During FY 1997, the Highway Funding and Motor Fuel Division of the Office of Highway Information Management (OHIM) entered into a research contract involving the estimation of local government highway bond information, by State, during a particular calendar year. The data are necessary for OHIM to produce a complete picture of local governments' financial involvement (revenues, expenditures, and debt) in highway activities. This research data would supplement State-reported data on local government highway bonds. For example, for six States that did not report local government highway finance for 1995, the researcher's database contained local government highway bond data. This allowed FHWA to substitute that data in the researcher's database instead of estimating it.

The researchers surveyed a number of municipal bond information sources and discovered what they considered to be the best source for the data. Using this database, researchers provided FHWA with a spreadsheet which listed all municipal bond issues by local governments for highway purposes. The data included the net proceeds from bonds and notes, debt service (interest and redemption payments), and the status of local government highway debt (opening debt, issues, redemptions, and closing debt).

Local government highway bond issues, which totaled $4.325 billion for 1995 data, constitute 11 percent of total receipts, an important portion of local government highway revenue. OHIM is sharing the results of the 1995 database with the States to help improve the quality of the local highway finance bond data. The data will be located on the Internet by mid-January 1998 under the OHIM Website:

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi/ (under Reports, Products, and Publications)

For additional information or a copy of the spreadsheet, please contact Leonard Goldberg, HPM-10, at telephone 202-366-5024.

WIM Handbook

The States' Successful Practices Weigh-in-Motion Handbook has been completed and is being distributed through the FHWA field offices. It was sponsored by FHWA and written by the Center for Transportation Research and Education (CTRE) at Iowa State University. This report provides practical advice to users of weigh-in-motion (WIM) technology, systems, and sites. It is based on the experience of several States who have had success with WIM. The idea for the WIM Handbook originated in discussions related to the Long -Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) project.

Although States have struggled with WIM technology for over a decade, much progress has been made. The WIM Handbook demonstrates that WIM can work successfully. The States that are successful have made a commitment to invest the necessary resources to make it work.

The report is electronically accessible from the FHWA Website [http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi/] or directly from the CTRE Website [http://www.ctre.iastate.edu/projects/attech/WIM_pdf/]. For additional information, please contact the handbook's author, Bill McCall (CTRE), at 515-294-9501 or Ralph Gillmann (FHWA) at 202-366-5042.

Highway Statistics 1996 Released

Highway Statistics 1996 was released in January. The report contains data provided by State and local governments as part of an ongoing cooperative effort to assemble national statistics on highways for planning and other purposes.

The following changes have been made in the 1996 Highway Statistics:

The report is also available for review and downloading at our Internet site:


To get on our mailing list, please call the Office of Highway Information Management at 202-366-0160. For information on the content, contact Mary Teets at 202-366-9211.

Continuing Non-Intrusive Data Collection Research is Planned

Plans are underway to continue the "Field Test of Monitoring of Urban Vehicle Operations Using Non-Intrusive Technologies" project. This follows the successful completion of the initial research. The final report was issued in May 1997 and is available on the Office of Highway Information Management (OHIM) website at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim. Due to tremendous interest in the project, the OHIM and the Office of Technology Applications have again teamed with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (DOT) and SRF Consulting to continue this research.

The goal of the original project was to provide traffic engineers with information about the performance of non-intrusive traffic data collection devices that are not installed in or on the road surface. The results indicate which of these new technology types are better suited to particular data collection needs. The next phase of this research is likely to have a broader scope due to the level of interest and based on the analysis of a technical working group (TWG).

In October 1997, a TWG comprised of practitioners from State and international DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, and academic institutions convened to determine the direction of the follow-on project. While the initial project focused primarily on data collection for planning, the new initiative will also investigate traffic management, operations, and ITS data collection equipment suitability. The TWG will continue to provide guidance and develop policy for this project. Also, a technical advisory group, consisting of equipment manufacturers and others will have the opportunity to provide comments on project strategy and goals. Anticipated products include periodic reports and updates describing results of ongoing equipment tests and the suitability of technology types to particular functions.

For additional information about this project, contact Bill Grush, HPM-30, at telephone (202) 366-5052, or e-mail william.grush@fhwa.dot.gov.

Our Nation's Highways

The soon-to-be-released update of Our Nation's Highways is a condensed overview of facts and figures regarding highway condition and performance, the U.S. Vehicle Fleet, motor-fuel use, travel, financing our highways, and other data of interest.

This update improves on previous editions by including more trend data and more comparisons of international data, and provides information from the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey. To obtain a copy and/or have your name placed on the mailing list, call 202-366-0160. The report is also available for review and downloading at our Internet site: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi/

If you have any questions regarding the content, please call Mary Teets, HPM-40, at 202-366-9211.

State Tax Rates Table on Motor Fuel Available

Tax Rates on Motor Fuel, Table MF-121T, is available and updated monthly in the Monthly Motor Fuel Reported by States report. This table is also published in two other publications--the Highway Statistics and the Highway Taxes and Fees. Table MF-121T identifies the most current tax rates for motor fuel--gasoline, gasohol, diesel, and liquefied petroleum gas-- and the effective dates for each State. The table provides only taxes that are levied as a dollar amount per volume of motor fuel. Taxes that apply to all petroleum products without distinguishing motor fuel are omitted. Local option taxes are included only when they have been adopted uniformly Statewide. The tax rates and any subsequent changes are provided by the individual States. In addition, page 2 of the table provides sales tax information for specific States and additional motor fuel information that affect the various State tax rates. The table also provides Federal motor fuel tax rates and effective dates.

Table MF-121T is available both in the Monthly Motor Fuel Reported by States report and the Highway Statistics publication on the Office of Highway Information Management Website at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi or you may contact Marsha Reynolds at 202-366-5029.

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