The Southwest Region University Transportation Center (SWUTC) Household Travel Survey Symposium: From Tradition to Innovation was held in Dallas Nov. 8 and 9 and attended by more than 70 travel survey professionals from across the United States. Attendees represented an almost equal mix of agency, consultant and academic researchers.
The symposium started with a poster session, featuring research from 22 separate research efforts, followed by an opening session from Michael Morris, executive director of the North Central Texas Council of Governments, and a keynote speech from Dr. Kermit Wies of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Attendees were encouraged to think outside the box and consider all users of travel survey data as their customers.
Following the opening remarks, discussion groups focused on identifying lessons learned and opportunities to advance methods, sampling approaches and uses of the survey data. Attendees presented their versions of the “travel survey of the future,” incorporating new technologies, known and on the horizon. The symposium also identified what can be implemented now and established a research agenda to move us toward the newly identified survey designs.
“The Travel Survey Symposium was very timely in that our traditional methods of travel survey have relied too heavily on the telephone, which is failing us,” said attendee Lisa Aultman-Hall, a professor with the University of Vermont’s School of Engineering and Transportation Research Center. “But at the same time, technologies such as smart phones and GPS are in widespread use and have great potential for travel data collection.”
Guy Rousseau, travel surveys and transportation model development manager for the Atlanta Regional Commission in Georgia, agrees with Aultman-Hall’s assessment. “The travel survey world is quickly evolving. Posters and presentations, accompanied by break-out sessions, were the ideal forum in which to discuss the latest trends in travel surveys, and share experiences.”
The TTI team that planned and managed the symposium presented findings from the event at several Transportation Research Board (TRB) committee meetings at the 2013 Annual Meeting. The TRB Travel Survey Committee members incorporated several of the research ideas into the research needs process. The research ideas are part of a National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) synthesis statement/idea, will be part of a proposal to the NCHRP quick response program, and will be used to support a full NCHRP problem statement.