This paper presents the innovative and efficient program initiated by FDOT District 4 to collect and package corridor-focused travel characteristics data for study team before a multi-modal corridor planning study commences. The program makes the highly desirable, sufficiently detailed and up-to-date travel data readily available for use during the study. There are three key aspects of this program – (1) conduct innovative corridor-focused field travel surveys, (2) utilize the readily available and collected data to develop “Making a Case” document for the study, and (3) develop efficient corridor data-driven simplified ridership model.
The field surveys involve collecting travel speeds, boardings and alightings at each bus stop, boarding-to-alighting flow information, rider’s characteristics through on-board origin-destination (OD) interviews and platform surveys to identify localized movements. Utilizing portable smart devices, the program introduces four key data collection advancements, resulting in improved quality and quantity of travel data compared to traditional on-board surveys:
• Real-time update and accumulation of survey data,
• Real-time geocoding of the riders’ origin, destination, boarding and alighting addresses,
• State-of-the-art sampling plan based on segment-to-segment flows rather than at the route-level (or RTD-level), and
• Real-time in-field quality control measures with built-in algorithms.
The corridor-focused data helps inform the corridor mobility needs instead of simply relying on anecdotal evidences. A corridor data-driven simplified and highly efficient ridership model is also developed utilizing the same data. It utilizes transit trip tables obtained from the OD survey as the basis for estimating potential ridership changes due to introduction of various service improvements in the corridor. The model reduces costs associated with model development and computer runtimes, and provides reliable insights. The model helps in developing corridor alternatives and improvement strategies through sensitivity tests and can also be used to support the operational planning needs of the local transit agency.
The program has received highly favorable reactions from the planning staff at District 4 and FTA. It provides focused use of resources and improved understanding of the corridor travel markets and helps reduce schedule risks and budget overruns during the planning study. The methodology can be tailored to better assess unique corridor travel markets.