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What new approaches will work to collect travel data from Chicagoans?

Helping Chicago plan for the future through a travel survey

Challenge

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, like all regional planning agencies, must conduct travel surveys to help plan for future transportation infrastructure requirements. The region may need new or improved roads, bus lines, expanded public transit, bike paths, and pedestrian walkways. However, with fewer people responding to surveys, we need innovative approaches to conduct surveys.

Westat is applying state-of-the art approaches to collect data from Chicago-area households on their travel activities.

Solution

Westat is using rigorous sampling and data collection methods, the latest GPS and survey technologies, and our extensive experience in public outreach to collect detailed travel behavior data from 12,000 Chicago-area households.

Using our smartphone app, participants are asked to report on their various trips during an assigned travel day. The app provides a map showing the travel routes, and the participants identify the purpose of each trip.

Using the GPS technology available in smartphones improves the accuracy of trip route reporting and makes responding easier through automatic data transmission.

Cash incentives help to promote participation in the study.

Results

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning will use the data we collect as it develops regional plans and policies designed to

  • Reduce congestion
  • Promote fuel conservation
  • Improve travel options
  • Enhance safety
  • Improve the region’s productivity

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