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Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) Statewide Travel Model Peer Review Report

7.0 Panel Discussion and Recommendations

After reviewing VTrans's application for peer review, participating in the three initial peer review sessions, and providing individual comments based on previous experiences, the panelists' recommendations were aggregated and presented to VTrans and their associated staff.

The following summarizes the panel's comments and recommendations on the topics of interest to VTrans, as well as general guidance for the future of the statewide model. This summary follows the panel's final presentation to VTrans at the concluding Session #4 of the peer review held on July 31, 2013.

7.1 General Comments and Recommendations

First and foremost, the panelists emphasized the importance of defining one consistent model platform, either CUBE or TransCAD, and maintaining all data and processes in the specified format. This consistent platform would allow for simplicity in validation and calibration efforts and increase the reliability of the modeling outputs.

Next, the panelists highly recommended that VTrans internally strengthen their agency's understanding of the model, specifically with regard to its sensitivities and appropriate uses for model application at the statewide level. The panel recommended that the model developer, whether in-house or external, provide features in support of desired analysis by the agency. Furthermore, a VTrans staff person should have a strong understanding of the application side of the model in order to conduct defendable analyses. The panel also noted it critical that agency staff are able to illustrate the value of the model as a planning tool to gain financial support from agency management.

Another overarching issue discussed in the peer review sessions was the need for VTrans to minimize dependence on the statewide model by developing tools in addition to the statewide model that have the ability to meet agency needs while managing resources and effort. Particularly, the panelists noted that one model cannot provide the analytical power required for different levels of spatial acuity. Therefore, VTrans would benefit from maintaining a variety of tools to meet analytical needs. The tools should be consistent and compatible with each other and use data collected by the agency in a streamlined and automated manner.

Finally, the panel underscored the importance of identifying project types and metrics desired for project prioritization prior to the redesign of model features. Panelists lauded the ambitious nature of VTrans's model enhancement goals; however, noted that it will be imperative to first achieve basic functionality and incorporate comments from FHWA before any mid- to long-term goals that require extensive model development efforts are realized.

7.2 Phased Recommendations

The following subsections partition panelist comments by potential timeframe for implementation: short-, mid-, and long-term.

7.2.1 Recommended Shorter-Term Priorities

The panel feels that VTrans should focus on the following priorities in the next year:

7.2.2 Recommended Mid-Term Improvements

Over the next two to three years, the panel recommended VTrans consider the following:

7.2.3 Recommended Longer-Term Improvements

The panel also identified potential improvements for VTrans to consider over the longer term (beyond the next three years):

Updated: 03/28/2014
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