How people travel is important to understanding the future transportation needs of the Twin Cities region. Where people go, how they get there, why they’re going – these are all examples of data that give planners a better picture of current and emerging travel patterns.
That’s why the Metropolitan Council is using a new way to collect information that will help the region keep pace with technology and other factors that are changing the way we travel. In May, the Council will begin a 400-household test of a new smart phone application, designed to make collecting household travel data simple for users and help the Council capture a higher percentage of trips.
“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, policy makers, and local communities see emerging trends more quickly,” says Nick Thompson, Director of Metropolitan Transportation Services. The test of the technology will evaluate the application for full launch of the survey this fall.
Participants will test a new application
The Council will invite a random selection of 400 households from the greater Twin Cities region to join in the test over the month of May. The survey area covers 19 counties, including the seven-county metro area and three Wisconsin counties. Following the test, the complete Travel Behavior Inventory household survey will begin in October.
Participants will use a smart phone application, called rMove, to record their travel over an assigned seven days. rMove will capture any amount of travel, and the participant will fill in information like why they made the trip, who was with them, and if they were the driver or passenger. Short trips count too, like walking the dog or biking to the store.
“The data collected helps us understand typical travel behavior, the variation of that behavior from day to day, and provides a richer, more complete picture of people’s travel choices,” says Thompson. “This is also the only set of data that the Council has available to fill in the travel outside of commuting. When you consider that nationally, the work commute only accounts for about one-fifth of all travel, this survey is a critical tool in understanding the other 80%.”
Data collection is a collaborative effort
The Council collaborates with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and the Transportation Advisory Board to conduct the Household Travel Survey
“We’ve been collecting this kind of data since 1949, and it’s been informing our planning and transportation projects ever since,” says Thompson. “What began as an every-10-year survey, has now evolved to keep pace with rapid changes. We’re excited to unveil this tool that uses the tech we use every day, ultimately giving us the data we need to understand travel patterns outside of commuting.”
Invitations for the test have been sent and for those who opt in, the data collection begins May 1. Watch for news about completion and evaluation of the test, and for the rollout of the full survey