As of October 1, 2016, the SWUTC concluded its 28 years of operation and is no longer an active center of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The archived SWUTC website remains available here.


SWUTC Research Project Description

Improvements to the Urban Mobility Report Methodology

University:  Texas A&M University

Principal Investigator:
Bill Eisele
Texas Transportation Institute
(979) 845-8550

Project Monitor:
Paul Czech
Minnesota DOT, Planning Director
Metro Division, Water’s Edge
1500 West County Road B2
Roseville, MN 55113-3174

Funding Source:  USDOT and State of Texas General Revenue Funds

Total Project Cost:  $60,542

Project Number:  600451-00013

Date Started: 4/1/12

Estimated Completion Date:  8/31/13

Project Summary

Project Abstract:
TTI’s often-cited Urban Mobility Report (UMR) provides transportation decision-makers with urban area congestion statistics and trends. Over the years, TTI researchers have updated the UMR methodology as new data sources and information became available. This project provides an opportunity to update the UMR methodology as it relates to 1) daily volume distributions for trucks and regional truck travel patterns, and 2) benefits of transit ridership and transit delay reduction calculations. TTI researchers are coordinating with national truck freight experts in the Region 10 University Transportation Center (UTC) at the University of Washington (UW) and at the Tier 1 Transit UTC at University of South Florida (USF) (with the Center for Urban Transportation Research [CUTR]) to provide technical assistance on these issues.

Project Objectives:
TTI researchers will coordinate with UW/CUTR on making current datasets and methodologies available, performing technical analyses on the truck data, working with researchers/students at both universities in updating the methodologies, and travel to coordinate work activities. Researchers at UW and USF/CUTRhave solicited fundsfrom their respective UTCs to assist TTI by providing technical assistance on the methodological improvements. UW researchers will provide “in-kind” truck data to TTI for TTI analysis. While the mechanism forfunding at UW and USF/CUTR has not been finalized because of the relative infancy of the re-competed UTC program, TTI researchers have received verbal commitments and strong interest from the leader of the UTC at USF/CUTR and researchers at UW in partnering on this proposed work.  At the time of this proposal, USF/CUTR leaders and researchers have indicated that it looks very promising in securing funds for the transit technical analysis and UW researchers are optimistic about being able to provide a sample of truck data to TTI. The budget assumes funds are available at USF/CUTR for technical assistance and that UW researchers supply the “in-kind” sample data and minimal technical support. If UW secures UTC funding, TTI researchers still anticipate the need to perform some of the truck data analysis and will be involved in the truck methodology development.

Task Descriptions:
Task 1 – Kickoff Meetings and Project Scoping

TTI researchers will attend kickoff meetings with both UW and USF/CUTR to establish project scopes for their respective portions of the project. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that both outside agencies understand TTI’s existing UMR methodology and needs. Additionally, TTI needs to get a clear understanding of what each outside agency is planning to do in their respective portions of the methodology improvements. A member of the research team will also meet with the Project Monitor to provide an overview of the project and obtain early feedback.

Task 2 – Coordinate Efforts and Provide Analyses
TTI researchers have been producing the UMR for more than twenty years and are very familiar with the issues surrounding data availability and applicability for the current methodology. It is imperative that TTI helps coordinate the efforts at the other agencies to ensure that the methodology enhancements that are developed are implementable. TTI will also work with both agencies to provide some interim analyses using the developed data and products to guarantee that the final products will be functional. More analysis will be needed for the UW portion of the scope as they will be providing data to TTI but may not be performing the interim analyses on their end to test the new data.

Task 3 – Produce Report of Methodology Improvements
Individual reports will be produced in conjunction with each of the outside agencies for the methodology improvements that are developed. The reports will describe the differences between the previous methodology and that which has been developed and will explain any expected changes to the results. These reports will be incorporated into the existing UMR methodology that is included with the UMR and posted on the website (

Implementation of Research Outcomes:
This research documented an updated methodology for incorporating public transportation benefits into TTI’s Urban Mobility Report.  This new methodology will be implemented into the upcoming 2013 Urban Mobility Report.

The results also strongly suggest there are differences in temporal volume distributions of trucks compared to all vehicles.  While the sample size is low, the results were telling and researchers plan to investigate these findings with larger sample sizes in the future.

Impacts/Benefits of Implementation:
The results of the Urban Mobility Report are often cited for policy or decision-making by transportation professionals.  While the methods developed as a part of this research will only influence portions of the Urban Mobility Report analyses, the refinements in the methodology improve the methods and, therefore, decisions made based on the data in the Urban Mobility Report.

Web Links:
Project Technical Report