Planning Commission Launches Household Travel Survey

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) has launched a year-long, region-wide travel survey to prepare for coming change in the Greater Philadelphia area. The Household Travel Survey (HTS) will collect data about the daily travel behavior of residents in Southern New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania to determine how to improve roads, reduce traffic congestion, enhance walking and bicycle paths, and upgrade public transportation.

The survey is conducted about once every ten years to help DVRPC, the official Metropolitan Planning Organization for Greater Philadelphia, better understand the region’s travel characteristics and inform future transportation projects. The last HTS took place in 2000. Participation is voluntary and will involve 10,000 households in the DVRPC region – Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania, and Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Mercer counties in New Jersey.

Households will be randomly selected and invited to participate by mail or phone. They will be asked to use a diary to record how, where, and when they travel for a single day during the year. A subsample of 500 households will also be provided with a portable GPS device to carry on their day of travel. All information gathered will be held strictly confidential and will be used for regional planning purposes only.

“Change is coming to the Delaware Valley Region,” says Barry Seymour, Executive Director, DVRPC, “and we need to prepare now to meet the transportation needs of tomorrow. With limited funding for new transportation projects, though, we need to be strategic about our investments.”

Over the next twenty years the population of the nine-county Greater Philadelphia Region is projected to grow by 11%, from 5.5 million to 6.1 million. Employment is forecasted to increase by 13%, from 2.8 million jobs to 3.1 million. Increasing immigration and a doubling of the elderly population will also affect where people live and how they travel throughout the region.

“Gathering a robust real-time archive of travel patterns is essential to help us plan smart for the future,” added Seymour. “We are grateful to all who answer the call when they are asked to volunteer. They will be making a direct, positive impact on each of their communities by helping us improve mobility, safety, and economic viability in the region.”

The research firm Abt SRBI will be conducting the survey, which began with a pilot program this summer. The main survey is taking place from September 2012 to September 2013.

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