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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-13-022    Date:  August 2013
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-13-022
Date: August 2013


Synthesis of Traveler Choice Research: Improving Modeling Accuracy for Better Transportation Decisionmaking

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Travelers’ choices are central to the performance of a transportation system, but little is known about what influences such choices or the impact they have on system performance. When selecting a transportation management strategy, a transportation management center operator must understand and anticipate how travelers will respond: Will they stay on the same routes or divert? Will they decide to walk, bike, or take a bus or train instead of driving? Will they leave earlier or later?

The operator must know the potential benefits of alternative overall strategies (e.g., variable pricing or information on dynamic message signs) as well as how to handle day-to-day operations by implementing strategies to provide effective responses to particular events. The operator must also account for non-network, predisposing factors that influence travelers’ choices. Such factors, including land use, population density, and walkability, are generally out of the control of the network manager, and their influence may not be intuitively obvious.

The project “Analysis of Traffic Network and Non-Network Impacts Upon Traveler Choice” addresses the current state of the practice, advances understanding, and identifies gaps in knowledge regarding traveler choices. This synthesis report documents the project’s first major activity: an assessment of current research and practices in traveler choice. It will be a resource for both traveler choice researchers and organizations considering transportation management strategies that influence traveler choice. This report also lays the foundation for the project’s next step, the development of traveler choice models that can be incorporated into existing transportation analysis tools.

Joseph I. Peters
Director, Office of Operations
Research and Development


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