Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
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October 31, 2007
Helping Agencies Improve Their Planning Analysis Techniques
This report covers activities of the Travel Model Improvement Program (TMIP) and other modeling activities of interest to the travel model community during fiscal year 2006. Both TMIP activities and non-TMIP activities are presented so that the reader of this report is informed about TMIP activities as well as other activities of interest. This annual report also presents a look ahead at future TMIP directions and presents a summary of past TMIP funding.
TMIP has three goals. Under the first goal, to help planning agencies build their institutional capacity to develop and deliver travel related information to support transportation and planning decisions, TMIP continued to work with our traditional partners such as the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) and the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO), while also adding new partnerships with Argonne National Labs and continuing work with academic partners Rutgers and New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). TMIP sponsored three peer reviews, provided two course offerings and six seminars; continued the Website, E-Mail List and Clearinghouse and produced one issue of the TMIP Newsletter TMIP Connection.
For the second goal, to develop and improve analytical methods that respond to the needs of planning and environmental decision making processes, the Research Needs (for the forecasting profession) Assessment was completed with a paper entitled: "Current and Emerging Urban Transportation Planning Issues and Urban Travel Demand Research Needs." Also, TRANSIMS applications, development and case studies have grown since the release of TRANSIMS under an open source license.
There are a number of both TMIP and non-TMIP initiatives under the third goal, develop mechanisms to ensure the quality of technical analysis used to support decisionmaking and to meet local, state, and federal program requirements:
Fiscal Year 2006 (FY 2006) was the 13th year for the TMIP. This fourth annual report describes the TMIP program and strategic plan goals and objectives, describes the actions taken to support those goals, both by the TMIP team and others, and attempts to assess our impact on the modeling community. Non-TMIP projects will be identified as such, so the reader may also learn of other initiatives of interest to modelers.
TMIP follows its mission by acting on three strategic goals and their commensurate objectives.The TMIP mission is that:
The TMIP activities discussed here are supported by a variety of sources. The FHWA Associate Administrator for Planning, Environment and Realty provides TMIP staff support and, through the Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP), provides the primary source of funding for TMIP activities. Separate funding for TRANSIMS is provided by specific funding allocations in SAFETEA-LU. For more information on funding see Appendix A.
Each goal is addressed individually below, together with the actions and activities that are designed to meet that goal.
In order to achieve this goal, TMIP employs a variety of outreach and training actions. In accordance with our strategic plan we:
A variety of mechanisms are employed to provide and disseminate information including working with organizational partners to plan and present at conferences, promoting and providing peer reviews, offering training, maintaining a website, email list and modeling information clearinghouse, producing and distributing newsletters and supporting peer exchanges.
TMIP funds in FY 2006 were used to work with and support national partners as well as some specific agency and academic partnerships. TMIP sponsored, showed and/or presented papers and moderated discussions at seven national conferences in FY 2006. The seven conferences represent a broad spectrum of our client base including technical planners, researchers and decision makers at all agency levels. The conferences were
The TMIP peer review program provides the modeling community with a method to gain insight and experience in modeling issues. Furthermore, the practice of producing and posting a written report for each peer review, presenting the peer review program and results at conferences and publishing an annual synthesis of peer review issues and recommendations for corrective action by the individual panels improves the state of the practice of travel demand forecasting. TMIP continued the Peer Review Program for a third year in FY06. Three peer reviews were held during FY 2006, of the three, two were follow ups, where the requesting agencies sought review of implementation of previously made recommendations. One agency used the peer review panel to assess the current travel demand model and have them recommend both near-term and long-term model enhancements. The Peer Reviews were held at the following locations (the links are to documentation of the reviews and recommendations):
All TMIP peer review reports can be found at: http://fhwa.dot.gov/planning/tmip/peer_review/.
TMIP Peer Review Locations for Fiscal Years 2004-2006.
During FY 2006 TMIP continued its tradition of hosting National Highway Institute (NHI) courses relevant to travel forecasting and offering one-day TMIP seminars in advanced modeling topics. In FY 2006 TMIP sponsored, hosted or offered:
TMIP Training Locations for Fiscal Year 2006.
Planners and modelers at all levels of expertise, across multiple agency levels and also from the private sector attend TMIP training. In FY 2006, 166 practitioners attended eight TMIP courses and seminars. This represents an approximately 45 percent decrease in overall attendance, and 40 decrease in offerings. Attendance and offerings declined from FY 2005 to FY 2006.
|Course or Seminar||Presentations||Attendance|
|FY 06||FY 05||FY 04||FY 06||FY 05||FY 04|
|Introduction to Travel Demand Forecasting Course||1||2||6||13||48||121|
|Estimating Regional Mobile Source Emissions Course||1||2||3||11||33||51|
|Activity and Tour-Based Modeling Seminar||2||3||4||32||67||103|
|Forecasting Land-use Activities Seminar||2||3||3||60||82||71|
|Travel Model Validation, Calibration and Reasonableness Checking Seminar||2||3||3||50||75||73|
The TMIP website is our face to the community. The homepage consists of updated calendar items, recent additions to the website and news, and navigation to services, courses and conferences, TRANSIMS information, links, contacts, clearinghouse and travel model discussions (which houses the TMIP Listserv email list).
In FY 2006 there were between 4200 and 5800 visitors to the website each month (representing approximately 500 more visitors per month over past years performance). Visits to the homepage tracked slightly higher than previous years, averaging about 1500 hits per month, with a spike to nearly 2000 in August 2006.
The TMIP email list is the scene of technical discussions, information exchange, job postings and course advertisements of interest to the travel model community. It currently boasts approximately 800 members, up from 700 at the same time in FY05, and sees between 33 and 88 postings and replies per month. The TMIP email list is hosted and archived by Texas Transportation Institute and is the source of the Hot Topics column in the TMIP Connection newsletter (discussed below).
The TMIP clearinghouse experienced very moderate growth in FY 2006 chiefly due to the diminished research budget. There are 331 documents and resources available in the TMIP clearinghouse (up from 326 in FY05). The Clearinghouse also experienced a decline in shipped materials, as we move more to downloadable, web-accessible mechanisms.
The table below shows the ten most requested documents, and how they ranked in previous years.
|FY06 Top Clearinghouse Documents Shipped||Number Shipped||Rank FY05||Rank FY06|
|1. Travel Demand Forecasting Self Instructional CD-ROM||81||1||1|
|2. Model Validation and Reasonableness Checking Manual||16||7||3|
|3. Integrated Transportation and Land Use Forecasting: Sensitivity Tests of Alternative Model Systems Configuration||15||2||5|
|4. Creating Synthetic Baseline Populations||14||10||15|
|5. Third Oregon Symposium on Integrating Land Use and Transport Models (CD)||13||3||23|
|6. Time-of-Day Modeling Procedures, State-of-the-Art, State-ofthe-Practice||12||NA||NA|
|6. Land Use Forecasting Case Studies: A Synthesis and Summary||12||NA||NA|
|8. Data Collection and Modeling Requirements for Assessing Transportation Impacts of Micro-Scale Design||10||8||7|
|8. Travel Survey Manual Appendices||10||13||26|
|10. Computational Study of Routing Algorithms for Realistic Transportation Networks, A||11||11||26|
FY 2005 saw the development of a volunteer working group to review and recommend content for the TMIP Clearinghouse.
This group of 21 volunteers reviews content in their subject Clearinghouse categories and identifies documents to be updated or archived, links that needed to be updated or deleted, and suggests additional documentation and/or links.
In 2006, in recognition of the volunteer work the subject advisors contribute, their names were added to each subject page. Their names are placed at the top of the screen immediately below the subject category title on that category's document listing.
All subject advisors were contacted via email in July 2006 for new references to activity based modeling section. Some advisors returned responses either notifying of a change in position with recommended replacement or their recommendations for literature to be added.
TMIP produced one regular issue of TMIP Connection in FY 2006. Newsletter topics covered:
The newsletter was mailed to approximately 1250 people in FY 2006. Additionally, the web link to the newsletter is distributed electronically through the TMIP email list and FHWA planners, and notification is sent to our partners for mention in their newsletters.
TMIP conducted a needs assessment of urban travel forecasting method research through an assessment of documented practitioner needs, need prioritization, and a selective review of recent and current research. The result is a paper entitled: "Current and Emerging Urban Transportation Planning Issues and Urban Travel Demand Model Research Needs."
The TELUS deployment continues. In December 2004, the first customized web-based application of TELUS was implemented at Alabama DOT for use by all 13 MPOs in the state for TIP development. In June 2005, TELUS was deployed at the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission in Dayton, OH. The application, which enables public participation through comment web pages, received a commendation during the agency's federal review. In September 2006, a customized application of the software was implemented at the Houston Galveston Area Council.
TRANSIMS is an integrated set of tools developed to conduct regional transportation system analyses. TRANSIMS is made available under an open source license with the goal of establishing it as an ongoing public resource available to the transportation community. For more information on TRANSIMS visit http://tmiponline.projects.cornerstone.net/Community/Model-User-Groups.aspx and http://code.google.com/p/transims/.
In 2006, TMIP began a working partnership with Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) on TRANSIMS technology in Chicago:
In Central New Jersey work with New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Rutgers continued:
TRANSIMS research efforts in 2006 focused on development and applications. Developing and testing templates for microsimulation studies occurred at:
NHTS Transferability is a GIS-based tool that enables users to download trip statistics for selected Census Tracts and Transportation Analysis Zones (TAZ). The objective of the NHTS Transferability Project is to provide estimates of trip generation rates and VMT for areas which have not had the resources to conduct a regional household travel survey within the last 10 to 15 years, and to combine small area demographic data from Census 2000 and other data sources to improve the estimates. The project refers to the transferability of the 2001 NHTS results to the regional or local level. The Transferability methodology provides estimates of regional or local travel, including vehicle trips (VT), vehicle miles of travel (VMT), person trips (PT), and person miles of travel (PMT) by trip purpose. Outputs are in Excel spreadsheet and ESRI shape file formats. http://nhts.ornl.gov/tools.shtml.
In FY 05, the Federal Highway Administration, Office of the Secretary of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration commissioned the TRB/National Academy of Sciences to study the current state of the practice for metropolitan area travel forecasting. Along with determining the state of the practice, the study is to identify actions needed to ensure that appropriate technical processes are being used for travel forecasting applications. The committee, chaired by Martin Wachs, formerly at UC Berkeley, now of Rand Corporation, met several times in 2006. Committee members represent MPOs, state transportation agencies, consultants, and academia. The committee roster is at http://trb.org/directory/comm_detail.asp?c=B0090.
To provide current technical information, the committee commissioned a consulting firm, BMI-SG, a VHB Company, to conduct a web-based survey of all MPOs on their travel forecasting models and procedures. Sixty percent of those MPOs surveyed responded, including 84 percent of MPOs with one million or more population. An April 2006 draft report of the survey results is at http://www.trb.org/publications/reports/BMI-SG-Sept2005-Draft.pdf .
The TRB/National Academy of Sciences anticipates completing work in 2007, and making a final report available at that time.
TMIP continues to provide technical support for the input of transportation models into MOVES, EPA's replacement for the Mobile model series. The purpose of the support is to ensure a smooth interface between the transportation models and the emissions models. The contractor for this effort is AECOM.
FHWA has been using the checklist for the last three years in conducting certification reviews. The checklist has proven very helpful to this process. By using the checklist, reviewers are able to assess the initial 'health' of the travel models without getting involved in lengthy and detailed technical analyses. MPO staffs have commented that the checklist provides support and justification for budget requests for improvements to travel models. The checklist does not substitute for an in depth analysis of a model or a peer review. However, the checklist does provide an initial diagnostic to determine whether a detailed model review is required. To access the checklist go to: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/certcheck.cfm.
The FHWA Resource Center Planning Team has provided technical assistance and input on project level forecasts for NEPA and local project studies. Illustrative projects include major interchange projects, major capacity expansions in urban interstate corridors, and local roadway widenings to support major traffic generators. Specific technical issues have included: (i) sufficiency of model validation efforts; (ii) adequacy of adopted analytical approach for capturing economic and secondary/cumulative impacts of capacity-enhancing projects; and (iii) review of model outputs for reasonability.
The Planning Team has provided technical assistance—in consultation with the FHWA division offices—for project analyses conducted in the following states:
The Resource Center Planning Team has responded to technical assistance requests from state DOTs through the delivery of specialized workshops on travel forecasting. Training issues have included topics ranging from introductory workshops on travel models to statewide modeling practices and 'off-model' sketch planning applications.
The Resource Center Planning Team has supported technical assistance/training sessions to the following state DOTs (in consultation with FHWA divisions):
2006 was a transition and planning year for the TMIP program. In 2006 TMIP began to rely on funding from the STEP program and the TRANSIMS funding provided by SAFETEALU. Mike Culp, who had managed the TMIP Outreach program since 1999, took another position within FHWA. That TMIP position had not been filled by the end of FY2006. Finally, TMIP awaited the results of the NAS report. This report is expected to have a major impact on TMIP and the direction travel modeling takes in the United States.
Enactment of TEA-21 in 1998 drastically changed the funding of FHWA's R&T programs' severely curtailing TMIP activities the first few years of the Act. This trend continued throughout both fiscal year 2004 and fiscal year 2005 due to continuing resolutions in lieu of reauthorization. The continuing resolutions did not include additional funding for TRANSIMS during 2004 and 2005. SAFETEA-LU was passed towards the end of fiscal year 2005.
In FY06, Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP) provided the primary source of funding for TMIP activities. Separate funding for TRANSIMS was provided by specific funding allocations in SAFETEA-LU.