Transportation planners are launching a year-long survey of how people travel across the greater Twin Cities region. Thousands of households are expected to participate using smartphones — a first for the region. When complete, the survey will help state, county and local governments build better roads and more efficient transit systems.
The Metropolitan Council, in partnership with the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation, is launching a survey of 7,500 households across 19 counties from October 2018 to October 2019. Invitations to participate will be mailed to randomly selected households throughout the greater Twin Cities region, including the seven-county metro area and three Wisconsin counties.
“This new survey is a deeper look at how people get around the region, giving us better data and a more complete picture of regional trends,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff. “Knowing how and why people travel in our region helps local governments make the right transportation investments at the right time. Participating in this survey is a great way to contribute to the development of a 21st century transportation system that benefits all modes of travel, so residents can get to school, work, opportunities, services, entertainment, and more.”
Smartphone app makes participating easy, leads to more complete data
About a quarter of the selected households will participate through an online survey or by phone. However most of the data collected will come from a smartphone app developed for the survey. It will make participation simple and convenient by using a smartphone’s GPS to securely and anonymously gather data on trips while improving the overall quality of information collected.
The Council has conducted this study every 10 years since 1949. However, this will be the first year the Council is transitioning to collecting data every other year using new methodologies like smartphones to keep pace with rapid changes in the transportation industry.
“The idea is that with this technology, the Council will be able to collect travel data easily and more often — every two years, which will help our Council, policymakers, and local communities see emerging trends more quickly,” said Nick Thompson, Director of Metropolitan Transportation Services.
Participants who opt to participate will carry their phones with them as they normally would. Throughout participants’ assigned travel week, the app will prompt participants to answer why they made trips, who was with them at the time, and how they traveled. The data collected will be kept secure as required by law and help the Council understand how daily travel varies across the region.
Most households will choose to participate for seven days using their own smartphones, but households will also be allowed to participate online or over the telephone as in previous years.