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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Scenario Planning Peer Workshop Report - El Paso, Texas

II. Local Trends and Planning Efforts

A. Overview of the Border: Land Use and Travel Patterns in the El Paso - Juárez Region

Salvador Gonzalez-Ayala, El Paso MPO and Instituto Municipal de Investigación y Planeacíon (IMIP), El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
Dr. Gonzalez-Ayala provided the group with context on land use and transportation patterns in the border region and the use of scenario planning by IMIP in Juárez as a part of its ongoing travel survey program.

Juárez has about four times the population density of El Paso, where sprawling, low density development patterns have been common. Consequently, El Paso has nearly three times the daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT) of Juárez, with a much lower population. Juárez has a larger transit system: 170 transit routes to El Paso's 30 routes; and a larger transit modal share: 25% to El Paso's 5% (2006). However, that modal share has fluctuated, declining from 45% in 1989, and increasing slightly from 2001 to the present.

Understanding the driving factors behind mode choice is one of the issues where scenario planning can be useful. The rising cost of gasoline, among other variables, impacts mode choice and the number and length of trips. Scenario planning can consider, for example, the impact of higher gas prices on mode choice and how it could change under other land use scenarios.

Travel surveys provide revealed preference information by asking users to report on their trips and mode choices using the existing transportation system. IMIP has added stated preference questions to its standard travel survey. Respondents were provided information about the functionality and trade-offs of new components of the transportation system, such as bicycle paths. For example, respondents were told to assume that bicycle paths were on every major street and that they would travel twice the distance as walking by expending the same energy.

Four scenarios were included in the 2006 Juarez IMIP travel diary and survey respondents were asked to choose which mode or combination of modes they would have used for the same trip under that scenario, given that those modes were in existence. Fifty-two percent of respondents indicated a mode change to BRT, bike paths, or a combination under the high congestion scenario. It should be noted that these mode switches would only occur if the systems were built as described. This type of survey can pinpoint characteristics of the individual and the system to maximize the system's usefulness. For example, in the stated preference survey, including BRT increased the demand for bike paths by a factor of two. Dr. Gonzalez-Ayala concluded by noting that they hope to apply some of the lessons learned by IMIP at the El Paso MPO.

Updated: 12/2/2015
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