Events - 2009

Groundbreaking GPS Transit Study Pilot

    Release Date: 3/3/2009

    Abt SRBI to Present at the 12th TRB National Transportation Planning Applications Conference

    New York -- Abt SRBI Vice President Laurie Wargelin will soon present results of a groundbreaking pilot household transportation survey utilizing Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) tracking devices in place of paper diaries to record travel behavior. The GPS data collection, if successful, will enhance the accuracy of widely used Travel Demand Forecasting Models.

    Wargelin will present the pilot results at the Transportation Research Board Transportation Planning Applications Conference in Houston in May. The conference brings together more than 400 transportation planners, specialists and decision makers from public and private sectors throughout the country.

    The presentation is based upon preliminary results of an Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) survey that Abt SRBI is conducting of 4,000 households in the Cincinnati area utilizing personalized GPS tracking. Each household member over 12 years old will carry a small GPS device in their pocket or purse for three days. The GPS devices will be deployed over a one year time period beginning in April 2009.

    Traditionally, Household Travel Surveys have been conducted by recruiting households to complete a paper travel diary on their one or two travel days, and to report that information over the telephone. This imposes a substantial burden on the interviewee and has led to poor response rates and missing data.

    "These GPS devices should reduce respondent burden, reduce under-reporting and provide detailed geographic information on route, speed and location not captured by traditional paper-and-pencil methods that could influence the way travel is modeled," said Wargelin.

    This is the first large scale GPS-based survey conducted in the United States. Previously, vehicle-mounted GPS devices have been used on a small scale in conjunction with traditional Household Interview Travel Surveys to independently measure the accuracy of those surveys. This study seeks to demonstrate that researchers can now capture all trips by a person via GPS, instead of only vehicle trips.

    To provide comparison data for the test, ODOT's study will also include a prompted recall comparison survey of 1,500 households. This more traditional internet based survey will prompt the respondents with graphical information on their travel from the GPS survey and ask them follow up questions on trip purpose, mode, travel cost (e.g. transit fare, driving cost and parking cost) and vehicle occupancy.

    Abt SRBI's Transportation Group, headed by Mindy Rhindress, Ph.D., is a national leader in providing advanced market research and strategic planning input to numerous federal, state and local transportation agencies, major transit providers, the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, and many of the nation's leading planners and engineering firms.