Insights

How Do You Plan for That? LRTPs and TDMs in the Age of Disruption

Long Range Transportation Plans (LRTP) are crucial tools for Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to evaluate transportation needs, recommend improvements, and effectively use project funding. But when long-term plans like LRTPs are subject to frequent and drastic changes, how can MPOs keep up?

The Age of Disruption

The pace of emerging technology and new modes of mobility makes it difficult for MPOs to keep their LRTPs up to date. While LRTPs account for traditional modes of mobility, many do not account for emerging modes, such as autonomous vehicles, connected vehicles, ride-sharing, and micro-mobility. 

Many LRTPs rely on Travel Demand Models (TDMs), which are key to obtaining funding and are required to model impacts of recommended transit improvements. At minimum, TDMs should be updated every five years. However, the most recent census data is used to build TDMs. Because the most recent census was completed in 2010, that data is now well beyond the five-year threshold. Sometimes, TDMs use data from surveys that capture consumer preference data between census updates, but this is not always the case.

The gap in census data, combined with the pace at which new modes of transit are being developed, is causing major disruptions to what has traditionally been the planning process. 

Closing the Gap

To help close the 10-year gap in information between census updates and rapidly changing transit technology and options, MPOs should engage with a TDM specialist who understands both the traditional approach to modeling and the significance of changes brought on by emerging technology. TDM specialists can collaborate with you to:

  • Conduct regional travel surveys to gather data that reflects the behavior of the current population
  • Process and use the survey findings to enhance existing TDM data with current data
  • Update the model with forecasted future travel demand that properly accounts for current technology and trends

From travel demand and transit model development to regional transportation model updates, our TDM specialists have the experience and understanding needed to help clients plan for the future. When you’re ready to start your next model update, contact us for help.

Ravi Ambadipudi, PE, PTOE, Project Manager
Ravi Ambadipudi, PE, PTOE
Project Manager