Does Travel Time Reliability Matter? - Primer
Why Invest in Travel Time Reliability?
Drivers need a reliable transportation system to plan trips and reach destinations on time.
Reliability is important with all types of regular services:
package delivery, etc.
The same is true for the transportation system.
Have you ever been stuck in unexpected traffic on your regular commute? Or, have you been late getting your kids to school or going to a game, concert, or special event because of an incident on a route you’ve traveled hundreds of times before in less time? If it happens once or twice, you may think nothing of it (or consider leaving a bit earlier). But, if it happens a lot and in an unpredictable pattern, you become unsure of how much time you really need to get where you’re going. Perhaps you budget even more time for your trip—time you have to take away from other things, like family or sleep. In truth, you can’t rely on the transportation system you’re traveling on to get where you’re going in a reliable amount of time; you lack travel time reliability.
You depend on other types of reliable services, such as utilities, pay schedules, and on-time package delivery. Your life is impacted when these services are unreliable. The same is true for the transportation system. Longer-than-expected travel times could mean arriving late for work or meetings, incurring additional childcare fees, missing medical appointments, failing to catch a flight or a bus, or missing a college entrance or employment interview, among other important events. If you are an employee whose schedule affects many others, like a teacher or a pilot, or an hourly worker whose pay is docked for being late, then travel time reliability is critically important to you.
For businesses that depend on reliable transportation to deliver goods and services, delayed shipments and disrupted supply chains can have severe economic implications. Transit providers depend on reliable transportation to stay on schedule and meet expectations of transit users. Emergency responders need reliable roadways to immediately respond to incidents and carry injured motorists to local hospitals as quickly as possible. Unreliable travel time can have far-reaching impacts because road users are caught in unexpected delays or congestion, which cause stress and disrupt travel plans and scheduled activities, impede the effectiveness of emergency response, delay on-time delivery of goods and services, and reduce the quality of life of road users.
This infographic provides examples of how travel time reliability affects people and their communities. It includes the following five categories: 1. Emergency: Reduces survival rates. First responder response time is one of the most decisive factors that determines mortality rates. During cardiac arrest, survival rate decreases by 7 to 10 percent for every minute of delay. 2. Freight: Increases cost of consumer goods. Shippers and carriers value transit time at $25 to $200 per hour, which can increase by 50 to 250 percent during unexpected delays. In Washington State, 60 to 80 percent of these costs are transferred to consumers. 3. Transit: Impacts public transportation costs. Over the course of a year, the monetized opportunity cost of an unreliable transit service in the Dash route in Denver, CO, was estimated to be $699.40 per user. 4. Commute: Harms worker performance. Per recent studies, unpredictable travel time can adversely affect worker performance, including tardiness, absenteeism, decrease in concentration, exhaustion, and stress. 5. Family: Disrupts time with family and friends. Recurring and non-recurring delays in 2014 caused urban Americans to travel an additional 6.9 billion hours annually, over 51 hours per commuter.
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration