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OCR for page 188
Using Activity-Based Models for Policy Decision Making Erik E. Sabina, Denver Regional Council of Governments Thomas Rossi, Cambridge Systematics, Inc. M etropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are Freestanding communities: maintaining as self- faced with a variety of planning and policy ini- sufficient communities several towns currently separate tiatives for which information on travel demand from the larger urban area; is required. The Denver Regional Council of Governments Balanced, multimodal transportation system: pro- (DRCOG) is the MPO for the rapidly growing Denver area, viding environmentally sensitive and efficient mobility which has developed a comprehensive planning process to choices for people and goods; and deal with the issues confronting the area's residents, work- Environmental quality: establishing a permanent, ers, and visitors. integrated parks and open space system, and preserving The regional planning process in the Denver area the region's air, water, and noise environments. begins with the plan known as MetroVision, which provides the overall framework within which are devel- oped other key MPO planning elements such as the INTEGRATED REGIONAL MODEL VISION PHASE Regional Transportation Plan, the Transportation Improvement Program, and the Air Quality Confor- To ensure that the new model developed for the Denver mity analysis. As DRCOG began the design of a new region would address MetroVision and the plans devel- regional modeling system, and given that initial project oped under its umbrella, DRCOG conducted the Inte- planning suggested that DRCOG should focus its grated Regional Model (IRM) vision phase, which efforts on the next generation of touractivity model- involved evaluation of other advanced modeling projects ing systems, DRCOG management essentially charged throughout North America and Europe, together with the the project team to answer the question "What good convening of panels of modeling experts, regional engi- are these models? Can they better support regional neers and planners, and regional policy makers who pro- planning, and if so, how?" vided overall project guidance. These steps ensured that MetroVision is composed of six core elements, the model design would be informed by the latest practical intended to guide the regional planning process: efforts in model design and implementation, and, most importantly, by the model's ultimate customers, those in Extent of urban development: promoting a more the DRCOG region who will use the results. orderly, compact pattern of development; During the IRM vision phase, the policy panel devel- Semi-urban development: minimizing the extent of oped a list of the top 10 core planning issues that the low-density, large lot development; travel demand model needs to support: Urban centers: encouraging the development of higher-density, mixed-use, transit- and pedestrian- 1. Effects of development patterns on travel behavior; oriented centers throughout the region; 2. Sensitivity to price and behavioral changes; 177