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4 Designing a National Travel Data Program T his chapter begins with a description of the committee’s proposal for a National Travel Data Program that would better meet the current and emerging travel data needs of transportation policy and decision makers. Program costs are summarized, followed by a dis- cussion of who should manage the program, at what funding level, and with what funding sources. A final section considers ways to build con- stituency support and help ensure program implementation and account- ability. The chapter ends with a brief set of findings. Concept and Content of a National Travel Data Program The committee recommends a broad and sustained National Travel Data Program, built on the collection of a core of essential nationwide passenger and freight travel data sponsored at the federal level and well integrated with travel data collected by the states, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and other local agencies (e.g., transit), and the private sector. Figure 4-1 provides a schematic of the program, including the proposed management structure, which is discussed later in the chapter. Program Content The proposed National Travel Data Program builds on many existing travel data collection activities and adds new initiatives to fill data gaps,   75 

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76  How We Travel: A Sustainable National Program for Travel Data National Travel Data Program U.S. DOT Advisory Secretary of Transportation Council Other Federal RITA/BTS: Coordinating U.S. DOT Modal Agencies Functions Administrations National Travel Data: Core Federal Data Collection Passenger Travel Freight Travel Data Component Data Component • Next-generation NHTS • Next-generation CFS State, MPO, and • Intercity passenger • Supply chain survey Other Local travel survey • International freight Agency (e.g., • International travel data transit) Travel passenger travel data • Local operations Data Private-Sector • National panel survey surveys (linked to but • Shares data Travel Data not part of federal collection • Shares data program) • Adds on to collection federal surveys • Provides and/or Other National Travel Data • Provides state, sells private • VIUS for all vehicles regional, and travel data to • Modal travel data local data for the public integration with sector Partnerships with States, MPOs and Other national data Local Agencies, and the Private Sector Data Development and Management • Data design and development • Data clearinghouse and archiving function • Data analysis, product development, quality assurance, and dissemination FIGURE 4-1 Schematic of a national travel data program. (Note: BTS = Bureau of Transportation Statistics; CFS = Commodity Flow Survey; MPO = metropolitan planning organization; NHTS = National Household Travel Survey; RITA = Research and Innovative Technology Administration; U.S. DOT = U.S. Department of Transportation; VIUS = Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey.) with the goal of organizing and maintaining a more comprehensive and better integrated travel data program to support policy and decision making. The committee envisions a program in which data are captured from many data providers at all governmental levels and in the private sector. At the core, federally sponsored data collection activities include a national passenger travel data component, a national freight travel data

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Designing a National Travel Data Program  77  component, and data collection activities that include both passenger and freight travel data.1 Box 4-1 provides a brief description of each of these program components and its purpose, as well as other key program elements. The latter include partnerships with state departments of transportation (DOTs) and MPOs and other local agencies to amplify the National Travel Data Program through both add-ons to federally sponsored surveys and greater pooling of data collected at the state and regional levels. Partnerships with the private sector should lead to mutually beneficial arrangements for the collection and sharing of travel data or for the outright purchase of private data where their sources have clear cost, quality, or coverage advantages. In addition to the data collection components, the core program includes a data development and management component composed of three elements: (a) a data design and development element to provide the research and testing necessary to design and develop the next generation of passenger and freight travel surveys and incorporate innovative methods of data collection; (b) a data clearinghouse and archiving function to achieve better data integration and maintain key databases; and (c) a data analysis, product development, quality assurance, and dissemination element to provide more user-oriented data products. National Passenger Travel Data Component Developing the next generation of passenger travel data will require a more robust National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), supported by a data design and development effort to address the problem of declining response rates and the introduction of more innovative techniques for data collection. In addition, two new surveys are proposed to fill data gaps: a National Intercity Passenger Travel Survey and a National Panel Survey. Each of these program elements is described below, including a rough cost estimate where possible. The costs in both this and the following subsections reflect actual estimates when available or the committee’s best judgment. Greater precision will require a more detailed planning effort, beyond the scope of this committee’s charge. Despite all the uncertainties, however, the committee recognized the importance of providing a sense 1. The assumption is that these core data programs would be sustained over time to ensure continuity for trends analysis. Although use of new methods and technologies for collecting data should be considered and encouraged, they should be introduced in a way that maximizes backward compatibility so that comparisons with earlier data sets can be maintained.

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78  How We Travel: A Sustainable National Program for Travel Data Box 4-1 Key Elements of a National Travel Data Program A National Travel Data Program for the collection of essential national passenger and freight travel data should include the following elements. National Passenger Travel Data Component • A next-generation National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), focused on household travel and conducted every 5 years or possibly as a continuous survey. The national sample, ensuring reliable state-level reporting, would include a core of travel behavior questions and a rotating set of policy questions. Add-ons would be invited, and subsamples could be used to experiment with new data collection techniques. The NHTS should move toward new technologies for data collection and communication with respondents. The data collected should include or be integrated with data on transportation service quality and area characteristics (i.e., supply-side data). Purpose: Track trends in household passenger travel at a national scale—including mobility across socioeconomic groups and locations and effects of changing demographics, resource prices, and policies— to measure performance; detect problems; design, evaluate, and select policies; and direct the allocation of resources. • A periodic (e.g., every 10 years) National Intercity Passenger Travel Survey and update (e.g., every 5 years), with a sufficiently large sample to capture city-to-city flows by mode. Purpose: Track trends in intercity passenger travel and, in conjunction with existing data on domestic air travel, provide a basis for planning, evaluating, and supporting decisions about planning, regulating, and investing in existing and new intercity passenger services, including high-speed rail, rail, air, and high- way transportation. (continued)

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Designing a National Travel Data Program  79  • Improved data on international passenger travel to the United States, particularly detail on foreign visitors’ inland destinations and use of transportation facilities. Opportunities for supple- menting existing surveys should be sought and the National Intercity Passenger Travel Survey should be designed to ensure compatibility among these surveys. Purpose: Provide data on foreign travel within the United States to support tourism and economic development planning and related transportation facility investment by states, local governments, and the private sector. • A National Panel Survey conducted annually to track travel and location dynamics so as to measure traveler responses to changing conditions and policies, as well as attitudes and preferences. Use of the Internet for this survey should be considered, although the sample could be drawn from a non- Internet frame and initially contacted by another mode. Purpose: Provide an understanding of passenger travel dynamics by tracking a representative set of households over time to measure responses to changing external conditions, prices, technologies, services, and policies at the national level; providing insights into travel and location dynamics; and measuring attitudes and preferences with respect to emerging issues and policies. National Freight Travel Data Component • The Commodity Flow Survey (CFS), either at the current 5-year interval as long as it remains part of the economic survey of the Census Bureau or as a continuous survey. Sample sizes should be large enough to capture subregion-to-subregion flows, and electronic methods of data collection should be used whenever possible. Low-cost improvements in survey coverage should be considered, and the private sector should be involved in any survey design changes. Opportunities for sharing or purchasing private data should be considered as well. (continued on next page)

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80  How We Travel: A Sustainable National Program for Travel Data Box 4-1 (continued) Key Elements of a National Travel Data Program Purpose: Track national trends in freight flows by commodity, mode, and geography to measure performance; detect problems; and provide a basis for predicting the effects of freight programs, policies, and regulations on the movement of freight and the impacts on the economy. • A new industry-based Supply Chain Survey to capture intercity data on freight shipments from origin, to intermediate handling and warehousing locations, to final destination, which are not captured in the CFS. Supply chain organizations and other private-sector experts should be consulted about the survey design and the most accurate and easiest ways of sampling shipment data. Two surveys per decade are envisioned, but survey design and testing will be needed before such details can be determined. Purpose: Understand what businesses ship, how, why, and where in order to analyze the state and local economic impacts of freight logis- tics choices and plan supporting public infrastructure investments. • Survey data on international freight flows, particularly inland movements of freight and destinations within the United States. A properly designed Supply Chain Survey should collect the necessary data, so a separate survey should not be necessary. Purpose: Understand the domestic flows of international freight by mode and U.S. destinations to monitor impacts on the economy and plan for transportation infrastructure improvements. • Local operations surveys of intraregional freight movements to gather data from motor carriers and short-line railroads on domestic freight origins and destinations. The Supply Chain Survey should provide the framework for these surveys, which should be designed to be compatible with the CFS and the (continued)

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Designing a National Travel Data Program  81  Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS). Implementation would be primarily the responsibility of states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), although some federal funding could be provided to encourage their follow-through. Purpose: Fill a major gap in freight data, particularly in the area of urban goods movement. These data are needed to under- stand freight flows within metropolitan areas so that supporting infrastructure investments to mitigate congestion and encourage economic activity can be identified. Data Collection Activities Including Both Passenger and Freight Travel Data • A restarted VIUS, expanded to cover automobiles and buses as well as commercial vehicles and conducted every 5 years, probably in conjunction with the economic census. Purpose: Provide national and state-level estimates of the total number of motor vehicles and their physical and operational characteristics; track and forecast trends in fleet mix, safety risks, fuel efficiency, and environmental impacts (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions); and determine cost allocations and user fees. The new VIUS would be the only source for monitoring data on heavy-duty trucks, which will soon have new fuel-economy standards, and for differentiating commercial from personal use of light-duty trucks. It would also be a source of data on difficult-to-locate operators of vehicle fleets (e.g., intercity buses). • Modal travel data (e.g., the Federal Transit Administration’s National Transit Database, BTS’s Air Carrier Traffic Statistics, the Surface Transportation Board’s/Federal Railroad Association’s rail Carload Waybill Sample, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Waterborne Commerce Statistics) integrated into the core National Travel Data Program. Administratively, these programs should remain with the U.S. DOT operating administrations and other relevant federal agencies. (continued on next page)

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82  How We Travel: A Sustainable National Program for Travel Data Box 4-1 (continued) Key Elements of a National Travel Data Program Purpose: Provide detailed data on the operation and performance of specific modes needed to assess performance; identify problems and needs; and guide decisions about investments, regulations, and other policies in support of national economic and social interests. Partnerships with States, MPOs and Other Local Agencies, and the Private Sector • Federal partnerships with state departments of transportation (DOTs), MPOs, and other local transportation agencies (e.g., transit agencies) to enrich, supplement, and validate national data (through add-ons to national surveys) and supplement and validate data collected by other jurisdictions (providing benchmarks); federally supported data architecture, common definitions, and general specifications for data collection to en- courage greater harmonization of state, MPO, and other locally collected travel data across jurisdictions and facilitate integration into the National Travel Data Program; and methods for sub- stituting modeled data for use across metropolitan areas, particu- larly small geographic areas, with common characteristics. Purpose: For U.S. DOT, extend national surveys to support more detailed results at finer-grained geographic levels and greater consistency in data collected across states and regions, enabling more data fusion and providing better comparative data. For state and local partners, provide benchmarks for state- and locally collected travel data; interim estimates between infrequent state and local travel survey updates; and for smaller metropolitan areas, a substitute for locally collected data. • Federal partnerships with industry for data sharing or purchase of private-sector data when the data are needed, appropriate, of suitable quality, and cost-effective. (continued)

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Designing a National Travel Data Program  83  Purpose: For U.S. DOT, secure and disseminate essential data not otherwise available from public sources or collected more efficiently by private transportation firms and data vendors. For private- sector data providers, bring attention to transportation problems that adversely affect productivity and operations (e.g., congestion and major transportation bottlenecks for freight carriers) in ways that safeguard proprietary data and provide new public-sector markets for data. Data Development and Management • Methods research and pilot testing of new data collection methods that are most appropriate for transportation. Designing and testing new freight travel data surveys (e.g., Supply Chain Sur- vey, local operations surveys) to fill critical data gaps should be a major emphasis. Purpose: Conduct the design and testing necessary to develop the next generation of passenger and freight travel surveys and data collection activities and to incorporate more innovative data col- lection methods. • A national travel data clearinghouse to lead the effort to con- solidate, scrub, and organize the travel data collected by many partners to form a coherent picture of national travel activity. This clearinghouse would be a source of survey designs, experience with new data collection methods, lessons learned in imple- mentation, and models and documentation for all data partners and provide an archiving function to maintain critical data sets over time. It would also provide a mechanism for receiving and summarizing feedback from data providers and users. Purpose: Achieve data integration and maintain key databases. • Working with data users and providers, the development of new methods of data analysis, distribution, and dissemination that enhance the capability, accuracy, speed, and convenience of communicating the knowledge obtained from the data collected. Purpose: Provide more user-oriented data products.

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84  How We Travel: A Sustainable National Program for Travel Data of the scale of the proposed National Travel Data Program as a necessary prerequisite for the program’s funding request. • National Household Travel Survey—The next-generation NHTS must focus on today’s travel issues, which require more geographically and modally detailed data than have been collected in the past, and it must support state-level reporting; all of these capabilities demand a larger national sample than has been collected in prior surveys.2 The recent practice of supplementing the national survey through the purchase of add-ons by states and MPOs should be continued because it supports more detailed state and regional analyses where needed. This practice would be even more effective if a reliable national survey sample framework were clearly defined early in the process, providing a structure for comparability among state and MPO surveys that would aid analysis at all geographic levels. Conducting an expanded national survey every 5 years using traditional survey methods would cost about $20 million per decade (Table 4-1).3 The committee urges that other options for conducting the survey be explored, including continuous surveying and new sampling frames and methods, if coverage or quality can be improved or cost savings realized. • National Intercity Passenger Travel Survey—A National Intercity Passenger Travel Survey should be instituted to cover long-distance passenger trips that are not included in the NHTS. In the past 30 years only two intercity passenger travel surveys have been conducted by the U.S. government, the most recent of these in 1995 (see Appendix E). The importance of such a survey has grown substantially because of the recent interest in intercity passenger rail. These data are also critical for ensuring that the transportation system remains adequate and competitive for domestic and international business travel and tourism. Because intercity travel is a relatively rare event in most U.S. households, however, such surveys are difficult and expensive to conduct. To be useful for policy analysis, the survey must provide valid data on origin-to-destination passenger flows by mode for major national travel corridors. Instead of conducting such a survey every 5 years as is 2. In the committee’s judgment, on the order of 35,000 to 40,000 observations are needed. The 2001 and 2009 NHTSs had national sample sizes of approximately 25,000 households. 3. This cost estimate is based on a cost of $250 per completed survey, a generous increment over the 2009 NHTS cost of $185 per completed survey.

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TABLE 4-1 Gross Estimate of the Costs of the Federal Core of the Proposed National Travel Data Program Frequency of Total Cost Data Collection Proposed Estimated Unit Cost per Decade Annualized Cost Program Component per Decade Sample Size (per completed survey) ($ millions) ($ millions) National Passenger Data Component •    ext-Generation National Household   N 2  40,000  $250  $20.0  $2.0  Travel Survey (national sample only) •    ational Intercity Passenger Travel   N 1  75,000  $400  30.0  3.0  Surveya •    ational Intercity Passenger Travel   N 1  5,000  $400  2.0  0.2  Survey Update •    ational Panel Survey N 10 5.000 $ 60 3.0 0.3 Subtotal $55.0 $5.5 National Freight Travel Data Component •    ommodity Flow Survey C 2 100,000 $250 $50.0 $5.0 •    ew surveys to fill data gaps N –    upply Chain Surveyb S 2 N.A. N.A. 30.0 3.0 –    ocal operations surveys L 0.0c 0.0c Subtotal $80.0 $8.0 Data Collection Including Both Passenger           and Freight Data •    ehicle Inventory and Use Survey V 2 140,000 $100 $28.0 $2.8 Subtotal $28.0 $2.8 (continued on next page)

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98  How We Travel: A Sustainable National Program for Travel Data mission. Nevertheless, with their focus across all modes and coordinating statistical role, RITA and BTS, respectively, have the capability, given sustained funding and appropriate staffing, to develop the next generation of national passenger and freight travel surveys and data collection activities. Moreover, the National Transportation Library (NTL), which is administered by BTS, could undertake the proposed clearinghouse and archiving function.22 The committee does not intend for RITA or BTS to supplant the unique, mode-specific data programs of the modal adminis- trations; rather the two agencies should work closely with the modal administrations to integrate their data into the national program to support better multimodal policy making and modal comparisons.23 U.S. DOT clearly has the mandate and the mission to lead the develop- ment and management of a national travel data program. Because trans- portation services are so tightly entwined in the economy, society, and security, many other federal agencies require—and in some cases contribute to—transportation data for program and policy design and assessment. It will be important for U.S. DOT, through RITA and BTS, to work closely with sister federal agencies that collect or use travel data (e.g., the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture) to ensure that the National Travel Data Program meets their mutual needs. U.S. DOT should look for opportunities to insert important transportation-related questions in the data programs of these other agencies and to integrate the travel data that they do collect into the National Travel Data Program.24 Ultimately, the Secretary of Transportation is responsible for moving the department toward more performance-based—hence data-driven— policies and programs. Congress also has a role to play. To support its interest in performance-based management, Congress should provide the necessary funding and hold U.S. DOT accountable for making progress on 22. The mission of NTL is to maintain and facilitate access to statistical and other information needed for transportation decision making at the federal, state, and local levels, and to coordinate with public and private transportation libraries and information providers to improve information sharing among the transportation community. NTL was established in 1998 by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. 23. The legislation creating BTS (see Appendix D) envisioned that it would work with the operating administrations of U.S. DOT to establish and implement BTS’s data programs and improve the coordination of data collection efforts with other federal agencies. 24. These data programs could include the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the Economic Census, the Agricultural Census, the American Time Use Survey, and the American Housing Survey, among others.

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Designing a National Travel Data Program  99  developing the National Travel Data Program, topics that are covered in the final two sections of this chapter. Partnerships and the Federal Role The success of the National Travel Data Program will require the active participation and sustained support of many partners. A strong federal role is essential to bring these partners together. U.S. DOT’s responsibili- ties include the following functions, which are summarized in Box 4-2. • Provide strong leadership, advocacy, and coordination—Encourage integration of travel data across the modes; incorporate travel data from other federal agencies, states, MPOs, and local governments (e.g., transit agencies); work with industry; and advocate for the impor- tance and funding of travel data with other federal statistical agencies, data providers and users, Congress, and the general public. • Manage the collection of essential travel data—Working collaboratively with other data providers and users, define what data are essential and for what purposes, seek ways to use existing data more productively, and fill critical data gaps through new data sources or expansion of current data collection activities. • Set minimum standards and checks for data quality—For public data collection, provide greater consistency and enable greater data sharing across geographic and governmental units, and help ensure the accuracy of the data. • Identify appropriate objectives, roles, and responsibilities for data collection—Develop and expand more explicit collaborative roles for data partners, such as states, MPOs and other local agencies (e.g., transit agencies), and the private sector, by involving data providers and users in planning ways to meet future travel data needs. • Undertake research on and pilot testing of new data collection methods— Design and test new survey instruments and data collection methods that are most appropriate for transportation data. Explore and adopt techniques to improve survey response rates and accuracy, new tech- nologies for data capture, and use of simulation and other modeling approaches to improve the coverage of data for decision making. • Provide leadership for continuing improvements in geospatial mapping and analysis—Consider the adoption of new technologies and tools,

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100  How We Travel: A Sustainable National Program for Travel Data Box 4-2 U.S. DOT Role in a National Travel Data Program A strong federal role is critical to the success of the proposed National Travel Data Program. U.S. DOT’s responsibilities should include the following: • Provide strong leadership, advocacy, and coordination across transportation modes and governmental agencies at all levels and with industry. • Manage the collection of essential travel data, working to fill key data gaps in collaboration with other data providers and users. • Set minimum standards and checks for data quality. • Identify appropriate objectives, roles, and responsibilities for data collection at different governmental levels and within the private sector, and encourage more collaboration and partner- ships in data collection, particularly with the private sector. • Undertake research on and pilot testing of new data collection methods that are most appropriate for transportation data. • Provide leadership for continuing improvements in geospatial mapping and analysis. • Build and retain professional data staff capabilities and expertise. • Establish a data clearinghouse to lead the data integration effort and an archiving function that are comprehensive, convenient, timely, and user-friendly in their implementation. • Develop new methods of data analysis, distribution, and dis- semination that enhance the capability, accuracy, speed, and convenience of communicating the knowledge gained from the data. • Establish effective mechanisms for gathering systematic feedback from data providers and users and a process for collaboratively identifying future data needs.

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Designing a National Travel Data Program  101  as well as improvements to existing tools, such as geographic infor- mation systems (GIS), for improved spatial and network analysis and data display.25 • Build and retain professional data staff capabilities and expertise— A strong professional staff will be essential for developing and main- taining the National Travel Data Program. Critical areas of expertise for staffing and development include transportation policy, statistics, survey research, data collection methods, industry knowledge, data analysis and dissemination techniques, and marketing. • Establish a data clearinghouse and archiving function—The clearing- house should be the primary location of the critical data integration function, providing the data architecture and common data definitions necessary to enable greater pooling and aggregation of data to meet user needs. The clearinghouse should also disseminate good practices, survey designs, models, and documentation. The archiving function should include a repository for key data sets. A one-stop clearinghouse and archiving function should be developed that is comprehensive, convenient, timely, and user-friendly. • Develop new methods of data analysis, distribution, and dissemination— Such methods should enhance the capability, accuracy, speed, and convenience of communicating the knowledge contained in the data. Translating data into information that is useful for decision making requires distilling the data into decision-support products readily accessible to policy makers, enhancing the visibility and value of the data to these users, and providing the metadata (e.g., standard errors) needed by modelers and researchers. • Establish effective mechanisms for gathering systematic feedback from data providers and users—Greater involvement of data providers and users in improving existing travel data collection activities and identify- ing emerging data needs should help build stronger constituency support for a National Travel Data Program. The clearinghouse should serve as an important link to transportation users for articulating their data needs. The proposed National Travel Data Program Advisory Council (discussed below) would reflect users’ views to U.S. DOT leadership. 25. BTS is U.S. DOT’s lead agency for coordinating GIS activities within the department and participating in the Steering Committee of the Federal Geographic Data Committee, which coordinates all geospatial activities between, among, and within federal agencies (BTS 2010b).

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102  How We Travel: A Sustainable National Program for Travel Data There is a clear and developing role for the private sector in travel data collection. The private sector can gain access to data that are often protected from government, and it can frequently undertake such activities as data fusion, creative product design, and dissemination more effectively and efficiently than government. Thus, the private sector should play an important role in the development of a National Travel Data Program. This involvement can be accomplished in a variety of ways, from more collaboration with the public sector in data collection to the purchase of private data. Partnering with the private sector in a postregulatory environment, where the collection and provision of data are frequently voluntary rather than mandatory, requires different working relationships. The private sector must have an incentive to share data, including remu- neration or the exchange of data that are of value to private providers, or both. Different ownership and collaborative arrangements, including licensing private data and working through trusted third parties to protect sensitive competitive information, are feasible and likely to be necessary. In turn, these collaborations will require more sophisticated licensing agreements and contractual arrangements to ensure that the public sector has access to the data or to a public-use version of the data that it needs while proprietary interests are protected. Another option, particularly in cases in which the private sector has a well-developed database, is for the public sector to purchase the data outright. As discussed in Appendix E, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has purchased the PIERS database since 2000 to obtain the data it needs on foreign waterborne commerce. Similarly, the TRANSEARCH database is widely used by the public as well as the private sector for freight fore- casting and planning. Because of the proprietary nature of data collected by the private sector, however, mutually agreed-upon purchasing ar- rangements would have to be worked out to ensure that the data are of the requisite quality for the proposed public use. Program Funding U.S. DOT needs to move from a strategy of conducting individual surveys to one of funding a cohesive National Travel Data Program whose objectives are to provide decision support and an enhanced customer orientation. As a package, a comprehensive and well-integrated travel data program should offer greater combined benefits to users and spread costs out more evenly.

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Designing a National Travel Data Program  103  Funding the proposed National Travel Data Program will require action on several fronts. Ensuring a strong core of federally sponsored national travel data collection activities will require sustained funding on the order of $150–200 million over the next decade (see Table 4-2). Expressed as an annual average, the $15–20 million range represents an annual spending increase of about $9–14 million over current federal spending of about $6 million on core travel data collection activities.26 Funding a strong federal core of national travel data collection activities will require both strategically redeploying existing funds (e.g., moving to continuous surveys to help smooth out funding and staffing requirements over the budget cycle) and seeking new funding to fill critical data gaps and improve the integration of disparate data sets. The next reauthorization of surface transportation legislation provides an opportunity to secure dedicated and continuing funding for core federally sponsored travel data, linked to the need for essential data to support performance-based decision making and performance monitoring and reporting for passenger and freight travel. For example, the legislation could include a new data subtitle—Subtitle A, Data and Information— under the research title (Title V). In addition, BTS will need funding so it can carry out its mission of coordinating travel data collection activities across U.S. DOT and with other relevant federal agencies. Additional funding will also be needed to support the proposed clearinghouse and archiving function. Ensuring adequate funding for state DOT and MPO travel data collection activities will require multiple funding sources. As a general principle, opportunities for collaboration should be sought to share responsibilities and costs. At the state level, the majority of travel data are collected through collaboration with U.S. DOT—through the use of State Planning and Research (SP&R) funds to support annual reporting efforts such as the HPMS and through periodic add-ons to the NHTS. States could seek an increase in SP&R funds in the next reauthorization of surface trans- portation legislation and use their own funds to ensure more consistent support for travel data.27 Once a more regular cycle of national travel data 26. This estimate does not include annual spending on modal travel data, the Census Transportation Planning Products, or state and MPO add-ons to the NHTS, which total about $24 million. Together, the $6 million core national-level data programs and the additional $24 million just described total $30 million, the annual spending estimate on current travel data programs provided in Chapter 2. 27. The current set-aside is 2 percent of the funds apportioned to the states under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) (see §505).

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TABLE 4-2 Cost of Proposed Core Federal Travel Data Program Compared with Current Spending Current Spending Incremental Investment Proposed Spending ($ millions) ($ millions) ($ millions) Per Decade Per Annum Per Decade Per Annum Per Decade Per Annum Program Component National Passenger Data Component •  Next-Generation National Household  $6  $0.6  $14  $1.4  $20  $2     Travel Survey (national sample only) •  National Intercity Passenger Travel   —  —  $32  $3.2  $32  $3.2    Survey and Update •  National Panel Survey  —  —  $3  $0.3  $3  $0.3 Subtotal  $6   $0.6   $49   $4.9  $55   $5.5  National Freight Travel Data Component •  Commodity Flow Survey  $50  $5  —  —  $50  $5 •  Supply Chain Survey  —  —  $30  $3   30  3  •  Local operations surveysa  —  —  —  —  —  — Subtotal  $50  $5  $30   $3  $80   $8  Data Collection Including Both Passenger and Freight Data •  Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey  —  —  $28   $2.8  $28   $2.8 Subtotal      $28   $2.8  $28   $2.8 Data Design and Development — — $13 $1.3 $13 $1.3 Total Spending  $56   $5.6   $120   $12.0   $176   $17.6  Proposed Spending Range  $56   $5.6   $94−144  $9.4–14.4   $150−200  $15−20  a Design only; costs are included under Data Design and Development.

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Designing a National Travel Data Program  105  collection has been established, states should be better able to plan and budget for these expenditures. States could also look to professional organizations such as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Public Transit Association to assist with collaborative purchases of data for state-level decision making; the Census Transportation Planning Products program organized by AASHTO (described in Appendix E) is a good model. MPOs, which are facing new responsibilities for monitoring travel and greenhouse gas emissions, among other requirements, could seek additional federal planning funds in the next reauthorization of surface transportation legislation28 and expanded eligibility for data collection activities. In the short run, additional funding would provide support for more MPO add-ons to the next-generation NHTS; in the long run, it would encourage greater standardization of local travel surveys, enabling more pooling of survey results across metropolitan areas and integration of these data into the National Travel Data Program. Finally, increased partnerships with the private sector hold significant promise for providing timely and useful data on travel movements and more efficient collection of these data. Offering incentives for private partners to participate can be as important as funding. One way to move forward is to engage in pilot projects to define the circumstances under which the data gathering objectives are feasible and worthwhile to both public and private partners. RITA and BTS could be funded to provide direction and support for greater federal, state, and MPO access to private data. Constituent Support and Accountability Two additional items are critical to the success of the proposed National Travel Data Program: (a) a greater role for users in shaping the program and (b) accountability to assure funders and data partners that progress is being made. The point has already been made that current federal travel data programs do not fully meet the needs of their customers, and that data users themselves are widely dispersed and have no systematic mechanism for voicing their needs. Establishing a National Travel Data Program 28. SAFETEA-LU currently sets aside 1.25 percent of state apportionments for the Interstate Maintenance, National Highway System, Surface Transportation, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement, and Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Programs to be made available to MPOs for metropolitan planning activities (see §104).

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106  How We Travel: A Sustainable National Program for Travel Data Advisory Council representing major travel data constituencies could provide such a mechanism for channeling the input of data providers and users. In contrast to the existing Advisory Council on Transportation Statistics of BTS, which advises BTS on statistical matters, the proposed National Travel Data Program Advisory Council would provide strategic advice to the Secretary of Transportation on the design and conduct of the National Travel Data Program (see Figure 4-1).29 More generally, it would provide feedback on data issues as they arise, help identify emerging transportation issues and related data needs, and assist in the challenging task of communicating the value of good data. The National Travel Data Program Advisory Council would also serve as the primary conduit for the transportation user community to employ in making its needs known to U.S. DOT leadership, the user feedback from the clearinghouse providing an additional source. The National Travel Data Program Advisory Council membership should be broad, representing governments at all levels, the private sector, universities, and professional associations and advocacy groups. With such a mechanism in place, data products are more likely to meet user needs, and data users, in turn, are more likely to become strong supporters of sustained data programs. U.S. DOT needs to move quickly in collaboration with its data partners to implement the proposed National Travel Data Program by developing a multiyear implementation plan; laying out action steps, roles and responsibilities, and milestones; and seeking the necessary funding in the next reauthorization of surface transportation legislation. In the spirit of the current emphasis on performance management and accountability, U.S. DOT should report biennially to Congress, its data partners, and customers on the progress of the program. Findings This chapter has described in some detail the committee’s vision of a National Travel Data Program that would better meet the needs of transportation decision makers than the current fragmented system. 29. The Advisory Council on Transportation Statistics advises the director of BTS on the quality, reliability, consistency, objectivity, and relevance of transportation statistics and analyses collected, supported, or disseminated by BTS and U.S. DOT. The Council also advises the director on methods for encouraging cooperation and the interoperability of transportation data collected by BTS, the operating adminis- trations of U.S. DOT, state and local governments, MPOs, and private-sector entities.

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Designing a National Travel Data Program  107  Achieving that vision will require the alignment of leadership, appropriate and forward-looking data collection methods, funding, and understanding of market requirements. The leadership and overall direction of the Secretary of Transportation will be important to ensure the success of the program. RITA and BTS have the appropriate mission and mandate, if provided sustained funding and appropriate staffing, to design and carry out the program in collaboration with partners at all governmental levels and in the private sector. It is important that the proposed program receive the necessary funding, which the committee estimates at $15–20 million annually on average, or sustained funding of $150–200 million over the next decade. This level of funding represents an additional $9–14 million annually above current federal spending of about $6 million annually on core travel data collection activities. The next reauthorization of surface transportation legislation provides the opportunity to secure this modest funding increment to help make better decisions with billions of dollars at stake. Finally, developing a program that incorporates enhanced customer orientation and account- ability measures should help build constituency support and ensure that progress is being made. The next and final chapter provides the committee’s key findings and recommendations for a strategy for improved travel data. References Abbreviations AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials BTS Bureau of Transportation Statistics ITA International Trade Administration NRC National Research Council TRB Transportation Research Board BTS. 2010a. Options and Costs for Restoring the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey. Briefing presented at the Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Transportation Statistics, Washington, D.C., Oct. 8. BTS. 2010b. Significant Accomplishments, Fiscal Year 2009. Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Washington, D.C. Grenzeback, L. Forthcoming. AASHTO Freight Transportation Bottom Line Report. Cambridge Systematics, Inc., Boston, Mass.

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108  How We Travel: A Sustainable National Program for Travel Data ITA. 2008. 2007 International Arrivals to the United States, Fourth Quarter and Annual Highlights. U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C., June 26. NRC. 1997. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics: Priorities for the Future (C. F. Citro and J. L. Norwood, eds.), National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. TRB. 2003a. Special Report 276: A Concept for a National Freight Data Program. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10793. TRB. 2003b. Special Report 277: Measuring Personal Travel and Goods Movement: A Review of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Surveys. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. http://onlinepubs. trb.org/onlinepubs/sr/sr277.pdf. TRB. 1992. Special Report 234: Data for Decisions: Requirements for National Transportation Policy Making—New TRB Study. TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. Wilbur Smith Associates. Forthcoming. Understanding Urban Goods Movements. National Cooperative Freight Research Project F-15A, Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C.