Technical assistance helped six MPOs improve how they prioritize projects

Through a grant from the Kresge Foundation, Smart Growth America worked with six regions over the past year to help them use performance measures to advance transportation projects that line up with their priorities for the future. SSTI supported several of the regions, focusing on helping each MPO tie their investments to policy priorities like economic vitality, accessibility to necessities, and equity.

SSTI CEO Community of Practice meets in Boston

CEOs and other senior officials from 16 state DOTs, as well as the Massachusetts Commission on the Future of Transportation, gathered in late July for SSTI’s annual Community of Practice meeting. While the conversation was free-flowing without any formal motions or votes, and so is not readily summarized, readers may enjoy seeing the briefing materials that formed the basis for the discussion.

Utah stepping up multimodal planning and investment under new law

Transportation decisionmaking is changing in Utah, thanks to the state’s SB136, which passed earlier this year. The bill garnered attention in part because it reforms the governance of the Utah Transit Authority, but UDOT is also moving forward on other important aspects, including adding a new deputy director, developing a strategic multimodal vision, and supporting the development of new project prioritization criteria.

New multimodal trip data on the horizon

StreetLight Data, which provides trip-making data compiled from cellphones and mobile devices, recently announced a new multimodal data initiative called “M2.” The company has offered data from personal and commercial vehicles for several years. SSTI used these data for a study of travel demand management opportunities in Northern Virginia. By incorporating additional data from location-based services, the company can now identify trips made by walking, biking, transit, and potentially other modes.

Bicycle level of stress and equity as factors in project selection

A paper published in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation suggests integrating accessibility by bicycle, equity, and project selection to tackle the isolation and segregation of low-income neighborhoods in Baltimore. Using bicycle Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) to measure both access to common non-work destinations and disparities in access across different neighborhoods, the authors suggest that projects can be prioritized to improve outcomes for residents that do not own cars and struggle to reach destinations to meet their daily needs.

Accessibility in practice: A new guide from SSTI

The Virginia Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment recently released its new report, Accessibility in practice: A guide for transportation and land use decision making, developed by SSTI with several partners. The guide describes ways of measuring accessibility and, more importantly, how to use those metrics in planning, project evaluation, and other transportation and land use decisions. The information is useful for any state or local agency interested or already involved in making these kinds of decisions.

Connecting Sacramento

Connecting Sacramento is the first study to incorporate both accessibility analysis and tripmaking data, including data from multiple sources, and assess how they can be used together to guide transportation- and land use-related decisions. This study focused specifically on opportunities to improve first- and last-mile connections to light rail transit in Sacramento, but its findings are widely applicable.

Accessibility in practice (SSTI and Virginia Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment, 2017)

Planning agencies and transportation decision makers often talk about the importance of improving access to destinations, but they rarely have the tools or resources to measure accessibility and incorporate those metrics into decision making. This report guides agencies through that process.

New research reinforces the importance of the built environment to cycling mode share

A recently published study from Montreal sheds new light on the importance of the built environment in influencing bicycle commuting and the resulting impacts on greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers also estimated the effect of bicycle infrastructure accessibility on cycling mode share. They estimated the effect of the new bicycle infrastructure as yielding a 1.7 percent reduction in transportation GHG emissions, roughly equivalent to the estimated effects of replacing the city’s buses with hybrid models and electrifying the city’s commuter trains.

Trip-making data, TDM, and connectivity in Northern Virginia (SSTI and Michael Baker International, 2016)

Commercially available GPS data offers valuable new insight about trip origins, destinations, and routes, including short trips that travel demand models often cannot capture. Using this data, SSTI worked with Michael Baker International, the Virginia DOT, and local stakeholders to identify opportunities for managing travel demand and improving connectivity throughout Northern Virginia. This final report describes the full data set and 17 selected case studies, along with recommended projects and policies, estimated costs, and benefits for each.