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Measuring Personal Travel and Goods Movement: A Review of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics' Surveys- Special Report 277
(USDOT). While recognizing the value of the Omnibus program, the committee sees the flagship surveys as far more important to the overall BTS mission of supporting decision making by organizations within the broad transportation enterprise. For this reason, the following conclusions draw primarily on the outcomes of the committee’s reviews of the NHTS and CFS, and the recommendations in Chapter 4 focus on opportunities for BTS to improve its flagship surveys.
VALUE OF FLAGSHIP SURVEY DATA
Conclusion 1: BTS’s flagship personal travel and freight surveys provide essential data not available from other sources.
The NHTS and CFS serve a broad constituency of organizations interested in transportation. USDOT, other federal agencies, the U.S. Congress, state departments of transportation, and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are important public-sector data users. For example, the surveys provide policy makers at USDOT with national-level data to inform policy and investment decisions pertaining to the departmental goals of safety, mobility, economic growth, human and natural environment, and national security. Private-sector groups, such as consulting organizations, think tanks, and industry associations, also make extensive use of NHTS and CFS data, as do those in academia.
The widespread use of data from the NHTS and CFS indicates that these surveys provide essential data not available elsewhere. In the absence of the NHTS, nationwide personal travel data available from the federal government would be limited to journey-to-work trips reported in the Decennial Census and the American Community Survey. There would be no source of nationwide data on increasingly important nonwork-related travel, making it difficult to assess trends in this market. While the CFS is one of many sources of freight transportation data, it is the only federal government data source that attempts to provide a comprehensive picture of freight flows across all modes of transportation. Trade databases provide some useful information, but they are intended for tracking economic transactions and provide only limited data on the physical movement of goods.
Information on the origin, quality, and limitations of the NHTS and CFS data is made available as part of the survey documentation. For ex-