TRB 2016 Blue Ribbon Committee
16th National Transportation Planning Applications Conference

Alternate Methodologies For Origin-Destination Data Collection

Corresponding Author: Rob Schiffer, Stantec Consulting Services Inc.

Presented By: Rob Schiffer, Stantec Consulting Services Inc.


There is a wide range of origin/destination (O/D) data sources, approaches, technologies, and techniques that did not exist until recently. Many of these are “passive” data extraction techniques that use devices with global positioning systems (GPS). Anonymous tracking of GPS signals provides cost savings in data collection and allows for larger sample sizes than traditional O/D survey techniques.

There are a multitude of considerations in evaluating and selecting approaches to collecting data on trip origins and destinations. The most obvious of these is cost, although this is a difficult consideration to quantify. While some data vendors have a standard cost template covering a variety of factors, the competitive nature of data acquisition also means there is some flexibility on the part of vendors to remain competitive. Other criteria in selecting an O/D data collection approach include study area size and geography, information needs, trip purposes, and transportation modes. Geographic considerations are crucial in selecting the best approach as different travel patterns might dominate within a single transportation corridor or subarea vs. an entire region. Information needs can also vary; for example, a data source for trip origins and destinations may differ from a study needing information on auto occupancy. Collecting information on trip purpose necessitates different methodologies than studies of general traffic. Focus on specific travel modes is another consideration as different data collection methodologies can provide data on autos, trucks, or transit vehicles.

This presentation will cover a range of data sources and considerations in selecting methodologies including vendor/product name, approach, sampling unit, survey periods, relative vintage, pros/benefits, cons/disadvantages, and relative cost. This information was obtained through Stantec experience using these alternative methodologies in toll corridor feasibility studies; demonstrations and discussions with vendors; and a project for the Polk County Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) on comparing alternative methodologies.

This will be an update to a recent Top 5 presentation at the 2016 TRB Tools of the Trade Conference to reflect findings from an ongoing Phase 2 of the Polk TPO project and more recent advancements in the mining of passive data, an area where technology is continuously moving forward.


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