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Transportation Policy Studies

FHWA Home / Policy & Governmental Affairs / Transportation Policy Studies / Transportation Futures

Transportation Futures

Access to Smart City Transportation White Paper, FHWA National Transportation Policy Symposium, January 12, 2017

Smart City Transportation holds the promise for addressing some of our most persistent transportation challenges. While smart transportation has the potential to provide many mobility and economic benefits to system users and communities, there are several policy gaps in issues of access, modal interactions, business model considerations and government roles and responsibilities. As part of the Policy Symposium Series, the FHWA Office of Policy Studies brought together national and global experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities with smart transportation systems. Discussants represented leadership from local, state and federal governments, academia, policy organizations, private companies, and the European Commission. This one-day event addressed policy solutions to transportation challenges, and how smart technology will change the transportation landscape.

Biennial Transportation Trends Report

The biennial transportation trends report titled The Transportation Future: Trends, Transportation, and Travel provides a high-level summary and analysis of current and emerging trends and their potential impact on transportation demand.  Providing valuable insights and context, this biennial report presents trends in Population and Geography, Vehicle and Drivers, Industry and Workers, Travel Demand, and Technology along with a discussion of Emerging Themes and Considerations.

National Summit on Transportation and Opportunity, September 29th, 2016

As part of the FHWA Policy Symposium Program, FHWA led and implemented the National Summit on Transportation and Opportunity in partnership with OST. The Summit brought practitioners and influencers together from across the transportation community to share experience, knowledge and actions in continuing progress in Ladders of Opportunity and Connecting People. Speakers and attendees represented thought leaders from across the country, city mayors, and executive leadership from AASHTO, AMPO, APTA, AGC, and NADO. The Summit facilitated discussion and information-sharing among transportation leaders from multiple perspectives and experiences in order to build on the Federal Highway Administration activities, share best practices at every level of government, and identify barriers to opportunity for every American.

Future Uses of Highway Rights of Way

The Future Uses of Rights of Way study highlights emerging possibilities for the use of highway rights of way to provide more diverse options for transportation and to meet other societal-related needs. Uses highlighted include deck parks, automated technology, solar and wind power, kinetic-energy recapture, transmission line placement, truck idling facilities and inter-modal uses.

Future Uses of Highway Rights of Way, HPTS Summary Report.

The Next Generation of Travel: Research, Analysis and Scenario Development

The future of personal travel will be influenced by a combination of various events, including life cycle changes, demographic and socioeconomic factors, generational social norms, and the adaption of people to new technologies and travel options. The Transportation Futures team has conducted a formal study to examine the travel behavior of youth under the age of 30, which will be used when considering policy recommendations based on improved forecasts of demand, vehicle usage and the impacts of new transportation technologies on personal travel.

Impacts of Millenial Student Loan Debt on Transportation Choices

Now the largest generation in America, the Millennials are not driving at the same rates of their predecessor generations, the Baby Boomers and Generation X. There have been plenty of studies about the millennial generation’s lack of interest in driving. Many conclude that Millennials are fascinated by technology or urban culture.

According to AAA’s findings of the 2013 ‘Your Driving Costs’ study, annual automobile spending for an average sedan owner are $9,122 (Based on 15,000 miles annual usage). For someone newly out of college with student loan debt, automobile ownership may feel out of reach. Millennial student loan debt is a widely discussed topic. Approximately 40 million Americans hold student loan debt. Currently more than 70 percent of U.S. students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree leave with debt, averaging $28,400. According to the White House Council of Economic advisors, 61% of adult millennials attended college, compared to 46% of their Baby Boomer parents. In 2014, the total outstanding student loan debt in the US surpassed $1 trillion.

This paper attempts to investigate the impact of student loan debt along with other variables on the millennial transportation choices.

Geographic Variations in Travel Behavior Study, December 2017

This study explores the role of geography in personal travel with a focus on younger populations (under the age of 30), using a variety of data sources to identify and quantify how geography affects and influences travel-related outcomes. Questions that are examined include the following: Have the residential location choices of young adults changed over time? How does geography influence different types of travelers? And does the residential location of young adults affect their travel behavior?

Projecting Trends in Travel: National and Regional Overview of Tools and Methods Used in Scenario Analysis and Forecasting

The purpose of this project is to explore the state of the practice in the use of forecasting tools and methods to project trends in personal travel, with an emphasis on how demographics, socioeconomics and other external factors are incorporated and/or used in the development of models and scenarios to predict travel-related outcomes and their effectiveness in capturing trends.

The first phase of the project produced a scan report and discussion paper while the second phase used that information to assist the FHWA in developing a tool and/or process for predicting and evaluating trends in personal travel behavior that can be used to support and evaluate initiatives related to national transportation policy.

Rural Futures: Identifying Transportation’s Role

The purpose of the work completed under this project is to understand the trends and forces that are likely to impact future needs of rural areas, residents and industry. A primary objective of the study is to develop a research road map which will provide a body of knowledge on key issues for future rural policy and program development. In addition to the development of a research road map, summary reports and white papers will be developed that will focus on emerging trends in rural areas and the impacts of anticipated growth on the transportation needs of rural communities.

Developing Performance Measures for Rural Access Transportation

In times of increasing needs and constrained financial resources, strategies are needed that assist decision-makers in analyzing and prioritizing transportation programs and projects. This study proposes a set of performance measures which identify rural accessibility at the national level using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and socioeconomic data sets. The development of rural accessibility measures and the use of GIS visually provide a glimpse of how rural counties perform by selected measures.

Global Positioning System (GPS) - Based Trip Characteristic Data and Analysis to Support Livability in Transportation

In an effort to better understand travel decisions made in relationship to the local transportation system network and built environment in livable communities, the FHWA Futures team is conducting a data collection (case study) of individual route and mode choice decisions using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. The data is expected to provide the following:

This collection effort will occur in four communities in two metropolitan areas, including Central Carrboro and Southern Village in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and Harper’s Choice-Colombia Villages and Mt. Vernon in Baltimore, Maryland. The travel of 300 participants will be tracked over a 5-day period using GPS technology through a phone application. Other data sources will be used to provide information about the area’s transportation system and environmental conditions on the survey day.

Travel Behavior Scan/Data Availability and Gaps Scan

The objective of this project is to provide a detailed assessment of the research on travel behavior. This study will create the foundation for FHWA’s future work and support the capability to understand emerging trends that will impact the level and distribution of passenger travel.

This study will include an integrated review of the literature on travel behavior with a special emphasis on socio-demographic factors and emerging trends in niche travel markets. The ultimate objective is to provide options to FHWA on the latest knowledge and methods in order to better understand and forecast the impact of population, socio-economic, geographic and societal trends on future regional and national travel demand. This will assist FHWA in obtaining a higher level understanding of the current and emerging factors that influence travel behavior so that the future distribution and level of demand can be more accurately forecasted.

The project will also identify data gaps and data options from non-traditional sources. A review of data gaps and new methodologies will be conducted in order to fully assess the cost and benefits of various data options, including new data collection, data purchase and updated design and methods for the NHTS.

Travel Behavior Shared Mobility and Transportation Equity

Shared mobility—the shared use of a motor vehicle, bicycle, or other low-speed transportation mode that allows users to obtain short-term access to transportation on an as-needed basis—has the potential to help address some transportation equity challenges. In an effort to categorize the myriad of transportation equity barriers facing transportation system users, this primer proposes a 'STEPS to Transportation Equity' framework including: Spatial, Temporal, Economic, Physiological, and Social barriers. For each barrier category, shared mobility opportunities and challenges are explored along with policy recommendations.

Transportation Futures Forums

FHWA’s Office of Policy Studies Futures Team conducts research on emerging highway topics. The objective of this project is to host three policy forums to engage subject matter experts in discussion and knowledge-sharing on current transportation topics, potential concerns, ideas and solutions. Participants will include industry experts from federal, state and local entities as well as from academia. The forums were held from April through October of 2015.

Transportation Policy Symposiums

The Transportation Policy Symposium Series provide a formalized information resource for FHWA to gain insight and perspectives on key transportation policy questions. A compliment to the Office’s long term policy research efforts, the Symposia allow leadership and staff to obtain timely expertise on emerging trends and critical policy issues from thought leaders in government, industry and academia.

Page last modified on December 17, 2021
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