For many years, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) has provided travel demand model (TDM) technique support for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) as the base of the urban transportation planning process. The TDM is critical to the transportation planning process since it is used to predict future demand for transportation facilities and services. The TDM also estimates the impacts of policies and projects on travel behavior and travel demand. The TDM typically yields complicated sets of data that require professional skills and a large amount of effort to interpret and understand. Therefore, a visual way to bridge the gap between travel demand modelers and other audiences became necessary.
Researchers from TTI’s Austin Office have built data visualization tools that effectively convey the sophisticated TDM results to various audiences with different levels of transportation knowledge.
One of the key elements of the project is its ability to design interfaces with the end user in mind.
I-35 Capital Express Central Project
This project through the heart of downtown Austin proposes to add two non-tolled managed lanes in each direction along I-35 in high-congestion areas. The research team prepared a report that was designed to show scenario comparisons during open meetings to the public.
TexPACK Integrated Travel Demand Modeling Application
This application includes a suite of TDM software incorporating trip generation and distribution techniques. The report for this project summarized the travel demand results and was used to replace an older, more difficult-to-interpret format. The audience is TxDOT and metropolitan planning organization personnel who may have a level of transportation knowledge but are not experts.
Demographic Check Report
This data set is generated by a utility of the TDM and is more a tool/utility than a report that illustrates the demographics of certain segments within a region. The audience is TxDOT or TTI personnel with some level of transportation knowledge.
“Travel demand models are inherently complicated,” says TxDOT Transportation Planning and Programming Division Model Program Manager Tammye Fontenot. “Through our partnership with TTI, TxDOT has developed easy-to-create and user-friendly visualization tools that greatly broaden the ability of Texas transportation stakeholders to interpret travel model results.”
“The ultimate goal is to build interactive visualization tools as a ‘lingua franca’ or ‘shared environment’ in the transportation practice to support and facilitate collaboration and the decision-making process,” says Pang.