Estimating the amount people drive based on accessibility measures

How does the built environment influence the amount people drive? Research by SSTI’s Logan Dredske worked to answer this very question. The focus of his research was to create a framework for estimating vehicle miles traveled based on conditions of the built environment. His goal was to use measures of accessibility as the principal proxy for the built environment. The research also converted vehicle miles traveled into greenhouse gas emissions and evaluated the ability of transportation projects to reduce emissions.

Mainstreaming transportation and land use modeling within Oregon DOT

States interested in modeling transportation and land use can now learn from Oregon’s experience building its Statewide Integrated Model (SWIM), thanks to a new study published in the Journal of Transport and Land Use. The model, now used in ODOT’s regular operations, grew out of its decades-long Transportation and Land Use Model Integration Program (TLUMIP), launched in the late 1990s. Several keys to its success were committed staff, a sharp focus on meeting agency needs, and the ability to adapt as those needs changed.

How land use and access to transit impact taxi demand

Significant research and debate in recent years have surrounded the impacts of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft on transportation systems: whether they reduce the need for personal vehicles, how they contribute to or reduce congestion, and how they impact transit ridership. A recent study published in the Journal of Transport Geography may help shed further light on some of these questions by examining taxi demand and its correlation to land use patterns and access to other travel modes in the Washington D.C. region. As the researchers point out, despite the significant growth of on-demand ride-hailing service providers like Uber and Lyft, taxis remain a key asset for urban mobility that can either complement or compete with other modes.

SSTI research highlights built environment policies to reduce VMT

As part of a larger 2015 project for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, SSTI investigated the influence of six built environment variables on passenger vehicle miles traveled. Using data on average daily household VMT at the Census block group level from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, along with detailed land use data and transportation system information, we were able to determine how VMT varied according to a number of variables.

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.

Linking Transit Agencies and Land Use Decision Making: Guidebook for Transit Agencies (TRB, 2016)

Land use decisions play a key role in shaping the long-term success of virtually every transit system in the United States. Organizations other than transit agencies hold the responsibility and authority for integrating land use and transit. However, transit agencies can influence the framework for those stakeholders to routinely make transit-supportive land use decisions. This guidebook was developed to help transit agencies better address the connections among transit, land use planning, and development decision making. It provides transit agencies with the tools to be more effective at the decision-making table.

Trip-making and accessibility: New tools, better decisions (SSTI, 2016)

Transportation researchers and practitioners have long sought other tools to complement or perhaps replace conventional methods—tools that would better analyze trips rather than speed at points in the system, speak to non-auto modes of travel, address land use solutions as well as highway infrastructure, and so on. Fortunately, new sources of data and emerging methods, as well as new-found interest in performance and scenario planning, are yielding the types of tools that the field needs.

Virginia adopts multimodal, competitive project scoring process

Last year Virginia enacted legislation to select state-supported transportation projects through a multimodal, competitive process. The law prescribed five areas to be considered in the scoring, along with project cost: congestion mitigation, economic development, accessibility, safety, environmental quality and land use. The relative weights of those elements, and details of how to assess project benefits in those categories, were left to the rulemaking process, which concluded June 17.

New study links low-cost and free recreation facilities near work sites with active commuting

A recently released study has added further detail to our understanding of the link between commuting mode choice and workplace and environmental variables. The study linked residential proximity to transit stops and employer-provided free or reduced-price transit passes to commuters’ likelihood of choosing transit. It also linked shorter commuting distances and the availability of bike parking at workplaces to commuters’ decisions to bike or walk to work.