By Josh Garvey
A new travel study being conducted by UConn faculty will provide data for the state travel model, updating decades-old information.
Gathering current data about residents’ travel characteristics will help the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) to make transportation infrastructure decisions that account for all modes of travel based on up-to-date information.
The study will provide information that will be used to plan and prioritize future transportation decisions, such as whether to widen a highway or provide more public transportation to an area – decisions that are a part of the $100 million Let’s Go CT investment. The information will help determine the role transit, biking and walking can play in improving mobility in communities, and how we can improve roadways to more effectively handle increasing traffic and travel demands.
Professors Karthik Konduri and Nicholas Lownes in civil and environmental engineering are building and executing the survey, with the help of UConn students and Resource Systems Group (RSG Inc.), a consulting company with experience conducting large-scale transportation surveys in support of state of the art transportation models and research.
Part of the reason for this survey is a simple lack of modern information- there hasn’t been a large scale transportation survey conducted in the state for the past 40 years.
“Connecticut has changed a lot in the last 40 years. The state is investing in a lot of infrastructure improvements. With this data, they’ll be making decisions based on up-to-date information,” Konduri said.
Konduri and Lownes hope that this initial study will lead to a continued partnership between UConn and CTDOT for travel information. Konduri hopes to not only help update and maintain the existing models that CTDOT uses, but also create more in-depth models that will allow the agency to be more responsive to people’s travel needs.
“The models that are being estimated and calibrated will be used to support decisions on infrastructure investments,” Lownes said. “They’re useful for what if or scenario analysis. What will happen if we widen a freeway or add a bus line in a location, for instance.”
There are two parts to the study. An initial portion that gathers basic demographic information about everyone in the household, can be filled out right away. The more detailed section, part two, asks for a specific day’s travel – including a walk to a neighbor’s house, biking to the grocery store, taking the bus, or driving to work. Selected households will be assigned a travel date on one chosen weekday between March 15 and May 26.
“It’s every detail, every trip that you take throughout the day,” Konduri said. “We are collecting information about the purpose of each trip, travel characteristics and what they do at the destination.”
“If you go jogging or walk the dog, that’s part of the survey,” Lownes said.
Invitations are going to 150,000 households across the state, with a goal of 7,500 responses.
“The invites are going across the state, to all the major metro areas and to rural areas. We’re trying to make sure that every type of household in Connecticut is proportionally represented,” Konduri said.
Konduri and Lownes stressed that the privacy of people who participate will be well protected. They emphasized that no individual household data will ever be made visible. All answers will be kept strictly confidential and will only be analyzed with responses from all other participating households.
“We will ensure the highest levels of privacy. The identifiable information, such as names and addresses, will never be associated with the data they provide,” Konduri said.
Lownes emphasized how excited he and Konduri are to gather this information.
“The University of Connecticut serves as a hub for knowledge in Connecticut and seeks to educate and train the next generation. This project serves both of these roles very well for the transportation community and is hopefully the beginning of a long and productive partnership.” said Lownes.