TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD
SPECIAL REPORT 277
Measuring Personal Travel and Goods Movement
A Review of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Surveys
TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD
Transportation Research Board Special Report 277
IA planning and administration
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Copyright 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance.
This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.
The study was sponsored by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Measuring personal travel and goods movement : a review of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Surveys / Committee to Review the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Survey Programs, Committee on National Statistics, Transportation Research Board, National Research Council.
1. Commuting—United States—Statistics. 2. Freight and freightage—United States—Statistics. 3. Transportation—United States—Statistical services. 4. United States. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee to Review the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Survey Programs. II. Special report (National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board) ; 277.
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
The Transportation Research Board is a division of the National Research Council, which serves the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The Board’s mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation through research. In an objective and interdisciplinary setting, the Board facilitates the sharing of information on transportation practice and policy by researchers and practitioners; stimulates research and offers research management services that promote technical excellence; provides expert advice on transportation policy and programs; and disseminates research results broadly and encourages their implementation. The Board’s varied activities annually engage more than 4,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. www.TRB.org
Transportation Research Board 2003 Executive Committee*
Chair: Genevieve Giuliano, Director, Metrans Transportation Center, and Professor,
School of Policy, Planning, and Development, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
Vice Chair: Michael S. Townes, President and CEO,
Hampton Roads Transit, Virginia
Executive Director: Robert E. Skinner, Jr., Transportation Research Board
Michael W. Behrens, Executive Director,
Texas Department of Transportation, Austin
Joseph H. Boardman, Commissioner,
New York State Department of Transportation, Albany
Sarah C. Campbell, President,
TransManagement, Inc., Washington, D.C.
E. Dean Carlson, President,
Carlson Associates, Topeka, Kansas (Past Chair, 2002)
Joanne F. Casey, President and CEO,
Intermodal Association of North America, Greenbelt, Maryland
James C. Codell III, Secretary,
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Frankfort
John L. Craig, Director,
Nebraska Department of Roads, Lincoln
Bernard S. Groseclose, Jr., President and CEO,
South Carolina State Ports Authority, Charleston
Susan Hanson, Landry University Professor of Geography,
Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts
Lester A. Hoel, L.A. Lacy Distinguished Professor of Engineering,
Department of Civil Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville (Past Chair, 1986)
Henry L. Hungerbeeler, Director,
Missouri Department of Transportation, Jefferson City
Adib K. Kanafani, Cahill Professor and Chairman,
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
Ronald F. Kirby, Director, Transportation Planning,
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Washington, D.C.
Herbert S. Levinson, Principal,
Herbert S. Levinson Transportation Consultant, New Haven, Connecticut
Michael D. Meyer, Professor,
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
Jeff P. Morales, Director of Transportation,
California Department of Transportation, Sacramento
Kam Movassaghi, Secretary,
Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Baton Rouge
Carol A. Murray, Commissioner,
New Hampshire Department of Transportation, Concord
David Plavin, President,
Airports Council International, Washington, D.C.
John Rebensdorf, Vice President,
Network and Service Planning, Union Pacific Railroad Company, Omaha, Nebraska
Catherine L. Ross, Harry West Chair of Quality Growth and Regional Development,
College of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
John M. Samuels, Senior Vice President, Operations Planning and Support,
Norfolk Southern Corporation, Norfolk, Virginia (Past Chair, 2001)
Paul P. Skoutelas, CEO,
Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Martin Wachs, Director,
Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Berkeley (Past Chair, 2000)
Michael W. Wickham, Chairman,
Roadway Corporation, Akron, Ohio
Marion C. Blakey, Administrator,
Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio)
Samuel G. Bonasso, Acting Administrator,
Research and Special Programs Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio)
Rebecca M. Brewster, President and COO,
American Transportation Research Institute, Smyrna, Georgia (ex officio)
George Bugliarello, Foreign Secretary,
National Academy of Engineering, Washington, D.C. (ex officio)
Thomas H. Collins (Adm., U.S. Coast Guard), Commandant,
U.S. Coast Guard, Washington, D.C. (ex officio)
Jennifer L. Dorn, Administrator, Federal Transit Administration,
U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio)
Robert B. Flowers (Lt. Gen., U.S. Army), Chief of Engineers and Commander,
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C. (ex officio)
Edward R. Hamberger, President and CEO,
Association of American Railroads, Washington, D.C. (ex officio)
John C. Horsley, Executive Director,
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, D.C. (ex officio)
Robert S. Kirk, Director,
Office of Advanced Automotive Technologies, U.S. Department of Energy (ex officio)
Rick Kowalewski, Deputy Director,
Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio)
William W. Millar, President,
American Public Transportation Association, Washington, D.C. (ex officio) (Past Chair, 1992)
Mary E. Peters, Administrator,
Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio)
Suzanne Rudzinski, Director, Transportation and Regional Programs,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (ex officio)
Jeffrey W. Runge, Administrator,
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio)
Allan Rutter, Administrator,
Federal Railroad Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio)
Annette M. Sandberg, Administrator,
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio)
William G. Schubert, Administrator,
Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio)
Robert A. Venezia, Program Manager,
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, D.C. (ex officio)
Committee on National Statistics (2003)
John E. Rolph, Chair,
Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California
Joseph G. Altonji,
Department of Economics, Yale University
AT&T Laboratories—Research, Florham Park, New Jersey
Department of Statistics, University of Pennsylvania
Robert M. Groves,
Survey Research Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Joel L. Horowitz,
Department of Economics, Northwestern University
Survey Research Unit, Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
School of Public Policy and Social Research, University of California, Los Angeles
Thomas A. Louis,
Department of Biostatistics, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University
Department of Statistics, Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
AT&T Laboratories—Research, Florham Park, New Jersey
Public Affairs, Columbia University
Nora Cate Schaeffer,
Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Matthew D. Shapiro,
Department of Economics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Andrew A. White, Director
Committee to Review the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Survey Programs
Joseph L. Schofer, Chair,
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
Thomas B. Deen, NAE, Consultant,
William F. Eddy,
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
T. Keith Lawton,
Metro, Portland, Oregon
James M. Lepkowski,
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Arnim H. Meyburg,
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Debbie A. Niemeier,
University of California, Davis
Alan E. Pisarski, Consultant,
Falls Church, Virginia
University of Maryland, College Park
G. Scott Rutherford,
University of Washington, Seattle
Edward J. Spar,
Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics, Alexandria, Virginia
Ronald W. Tweedie, Consultant,
Delmar, New York
Jill Wilson, Study Director, Transportation Research Board
The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 established the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) within the U.S. Department of Transportation. This new federal statistical agency was charged with developing transportation data to support strategic planning and policy making. The ISTEA legislation also mandated that the National Academy of Sciences [National Research Council (NRC)] review the statistical programs and practices of BTS to improve the relevance and quality of transportation data. The NRC Panel on Statistical Programs and Practices of the BTS issued its report in 1997, approximately 5 years after BTS began operations.1 In 2001, BTS itself asked NRC to conduct another review of the agency’s activities. Specifically, BTS requested a study to review the agency’s current survey programs in light of transportation data needs for policy planning and research, and in light of the characteristics and functions of an effective statistical agency.
In response to BTS’s request, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) of the National Academies convened a study committee of 12 members under the leadership of Joseph Schofer, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Professor of Civil Engineering and Transportation at Northwestern University. Panel members have expertise in transportation policy and planning, transportation data, and survey methodology and statistics.
The committee met four times between February 2002 and March 2003. Each of the first three meetings was devoted to review of one of the
BTS survey initiatives—the National Household Travel Survey, the Omnibus Survey Program, and the Commodity Flow Survey. After each of these meetings, the committee issued a letter report presenting its findings and recommendations concerning the relevant survey. These letter reports are reproduced in Appendixes A, B, and C. Appendix D lists the invited presentations given at committee meetings. The final meeting was devoted to committee discussions of major themes and crosscutting issues and to preparation of this final report.
The committee’s conclusions and recommendations are necessarily based on the programs and organization of BTS at the time of this study. As a result of its interactions with BTS staff over the course of the study, the committee is aware that the agency is engaged in planning activities that may address items raised in the letter reports and also relate to some of the issues discussed in this report.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Academies. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the National Academies in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The contents of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: William P. Anderson, Boston University, Massachusetts; Daniel Brand, Charles River Associates, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts; Konstadinos G. Goulias, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park; Ronald E. Kutscher, Vienna, Virginia; Martin E. H. Lee-Gosselin, Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada; and Frank Potter, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, New Jersey.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the committee’s conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Lester A. Hoel, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, who was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of the report
was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
The committee wishes to thank the many individuals who contributed to this study through presentations at meetings, correspondence, and telephone calls. The assistance of Mike Cohen, Lori Putman, and Joy Sharp of BTS; John Fowler of the Census Bureau; Susan Liss of the Federal Highway Administration; and Frank Southworth of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in arranging briefings and responding to committee requests for information is gratefully acknowledged.
Jill Wilson managed the study under the supervision of Stephen R. Godwin, Director of Studies and Information Services, TRB, and with advice from Andrew A. White, Director, CNSTAT. Frances E. Holland assisted in logistics and communications with the committee. Suzanne Schneider, Associate Executive Director of TRB, managed the report review process. The report was edited by Gail Baker and prepared for publication under the supervision of Nancy Ackerman, Director of Publications.