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Executive Summary


This report summarizes the findings of an International Technology Scanning Program scan on managing travel demand. The purpose of the scanning study was to assess European experience in managing the demand for automobile and truck travel through a variety of means, including traveler information, technology, improved modal options, pricing, and new institutional arrangements. The scanning program is sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) of the Transportation Research Board (TRB).

The scan team visited the following cities throughout Europe that have been pursuing programs and policies to reduce automobile demand:

The visit focused on both local efforts to manage demand within a metropolitan area and national research, policies, and programs to integrate demand management into planning, management, and operations of the transport system. While congestion is often the issue driving efforts to manage demand in the United States, European policies tend to also focus on air quality and sustainability objectives.

Demand Management Strategies Examined

To sort through the myriad of strategies to manage demand, the scan team created a loose categorization of techniques, including the following:

Physical Measures-These include access control (Rome), HOV lanes (the United Kingdom), expanded park-and-ride systems (Cologne, Rome, and Stockholm), and use of the hard shoulder during rush hours (the Netherlands). These measures have been designed to modulate use of the automobile via infrastructure changes and physical restrictions.

Operational Measures-These include real-time dynamic information on traffic and parking, traffic management centers, and improved public transport in every city visited. Travel time prediction methods, using recent or archived data, have been developed (the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Germany) to provide pretrip and near-trip information. Photo enforcement makes access restrictions (Rome), area pricing (Rome, Stockholm, and London), and highway speed controls (the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) possible. Finally, demand management is being used to mitigate traffic during major highway reconstruction projects (the United Kingdom and the Netherlands) and during large-scale events (the United Kingdom and Germany).

Financial/Pricing Measures-Several cities were selected for their implementation of pricing. In addition to London's Congestion Charging Scheme, the scan team learned about a large-scale area pricing pilot in Stockholm, priced nonresident permits for access into the historic center of Rome, and truck tolls on the German autobahn system. Revenue from these schemes is being used to improve services (public transport) or infrastructure (highways from truck tolls). Financial incentives were also used in many cities to induce travelers to use alternative modes (the Netherlands and Lund), such as free public transport passes to use transit.

Institutional Measures-New institutional arrangements and processes have been developed to integrate demand management into planning, management, and operations. Sustainable travel and demand management have been integrated into, and even become the focus of, long-range transport plans and have been built into the highway deficiency evaluation process (Sweden and the Netherlands). Travel planning for worksites and schools has become institutionalized in many countries (the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Italy). Integrated packages of strategies are being tested through European initiatives such as CIVITAS. New organizational arrangements are being formed to manage traffic, operate public transport, and provide traveler information (Rome and London). Finally, new public-private partnerships have been formed to collect, process, and deliver traveler information (the Netherlands).

Performance Measurement-The ability of demand management strategies to address congestion, air quality, energy, efficiency, and quality-of-life objectives is being carefully monitored and evaluated in most of the cities and countries the scan team visited. Large-scale evaluations of the pricing (Rome, Stockholm, and London), traveler information (Cologne and the Netherlands), and traffic management schemes (all countries) have provided critical information on the effectiveness of these strategies. In Lund, Sweden, a comprehensive, integrated package of strategies resulted in a modest absolute reduction in per capita car use at the same time that the area enjoyed growth, effectively decoupling traffic growth from economic growth. Finally, several countries the team visited are building performance measurement, centered on travel time reliability, into their national transport and funding policies (the Netherlands and the United Kingdom).

Conclusions from European EXPERIENCE: An Evolution in Thinking

The purpose of the managing travel demand scan was to explore European experience with demand-side strategies that contribute to the more efficient use of highway infrastructure and provide enhanced mobility options and travel choices. What the scan team found was a profound new way of thinking about travel, one that attempts to influence travelers before they get into their cars (promoting nonmotorized modes and alternative destinations of travel) and provides improved options for drivers who choose to use the road system (faster routes and more reliable travel times).

The Dutch model of traffic and demand management (see figure 6) was a key to the scan team's understanding of how demand management fits into the management and operations of the transportation system. A modified version of this model (figure 1) provides a conceptual framework illustrating how many of the management systems used to manage travel demand and traffic can affect traveler choices, be they the choice of which lane is best, which route or time of departure is fastest, or even which mode of travel or destination is optimal for a given traveler. For example, systems to control the number of directional lanes or maximum speeds might affect only lane choice on a given facility and, therefore, manage only traffic already on the network. But other systems, such as incident management, which traditionally have been believed to influence traffic only on a given facility, might actually influence route choice, time of travel, destination, and even mode, as was the case with the hurricanes in the southeastern United States in 2004 and 2005. In these cases, a much broader view of managing traffic and demand was required.

Other systems can be viewed as influencing traffic demand and transport demand, beyond managing the traffic on the existing network. Pretrip traveler information systems are clearly designed to encourage more efficient travel by suggesting routes and times of the day that are less congested and offer more reliable travel times. Pretrip information can also influence the mode selected (e.g., public transport or carpooling) or even the destination of travel (whether to work from home or shop closer to home). However, as evidenced by European experience, near-trip and even on-trip (en route) information can influence time, route, mode, and destination choice. For example, commuters can be provided with real-time information on travel times to their work location if they continue to drive or shift to a nearby park-and-ride service. Finally, while road pricing can clearly affect mode, time, and route choice, it can even influence lane choice, as is the case with high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in the United States. Pricing can also include incentives for changing modes or time of travel.

In the center of the management systems is the transportation management center (TMC), which both manages facilities and provides information to travelers. Traditional transportation demand management (TDM), such as rideshare matching, promotion of alternative modes, and vanpool provision, typically works at the other end of the framework to influence mode and destination choice based on the need to travel, but it can also be an integral part of the information systems linked to the TMC. Therefore, this conceptual framework, modified from that presented by the Dutch, provides a new way of looking at the need for and management of transport and traffic demand. It provided scan team members with a new perspective on the systems they manage by helping them understand the difference between managing traffic and managing demand.

Overall, most of the places the scan team visited were striving to create more livable, sustainable cities by creating and implementing integrated packages of transportation measures that combined improved alternatives to driving a car; real-time information on traffic conditions; options providing pretrip, near-trip, and on-trip route information; new partnerships to support these enhanced travel choices; and even pricing to reduce the number of cars entering the city centers or on the entire network during congestion periods. They are doing so by integrating demand management into both their long-range transportation plans and shorter range operating policies. They are carefully monitoring the performance of the system by looking not only at mobility but also at measures such as accessibility, air quality, and livability.

Figure 1. Conceptual framework for demand management and traffic management: modified Dutch model.
Illustration of conceptual framework for demand management and traffic management, or the modified Dutch model. On the left side of the diagram, a circle labeled transport demand is linked by an arrow to a box labeled mode and destination choice, which is linked to route and time choice, which is linked to lane choice, which is linked to transportation management center. Above the arrow between mode and destination choice and route and time choice is a circle labeled traffic demand. Above the arrow between route and time choice and lane choice is a circle labeled network demand. Boxes in a vertical column above transportation management center are labeled lane and speed control systems and traffic incident management. Boxes in a vertical column below transportation management center are labeled on/near-trip information systems, pretrip information systems, and pricing systems. Arrows lead from the transportation management center to these boxes, and from these boxes to mode and destination choice, route and time choice, and lane choice. The lane and speed control systems box is blue to indicate traffic management, the pretrip information systems and pricing systems boxes are gray to indicate demand management, and the traffic incident management and on/near-trip boxes are blue-gray to indicate traffic management and demand management.

Recommendations and Implementation Strategies

The scan team developed a detailed set of implementation strategies aimed at disseminating the findings, conclusions, and transferable strategies to transportation professionals in the United States, thereby helping to accelerate the evolution of thinking in this country. The recommendations fall into six categories:

  1. Outreach-Pursue presentations at key conferences, articles in transportation journals, and development of Web-based seminars, brochures, and slide shows.
  2. U.S. practice-Assess the domestic understanding and state of the practice in integrating demand management into plans, programs, and policies.
  3. Training-Develop a revised National Highway Institute or National Transit Institute course on demand management and include demand management in other training and university curricula.
  4. Peer exchange-Establish additional exchange between professionals involved in demand management in Europe and the United States by facilitating face-to-face or virtual interaction.
  5. Demonstrations-Test some of the observed techniques from Europe in the United States, including use of the hard shoulder during rush hour, travel time prediction using archived data, and road pricing.
  6. Guidance-Develop guidance on how to assess the effectiveness of demand management strategies and how to integrate demand management into plans and programs.

The scan team learned that demand for travel can be managed at a number of points in the planning, management, and operations processes and that managing demand to improve travel time reliability necessarily involves enhanced travel choices, be they other modes, destinations, route, or time of travel. Demand management is clearly not the only solution to congestion, air pollution, or energy problems, but it provides a broad set of tools to use the Nation's transport system and resources more efficiently.

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Page last modified on November 7, 2014
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