Managing Travel for Planned Special Events
Chapter Seven. Travel Demand Management and Traveler Information
|User Group||Trip Purpose||TDM Goal|
|Event patrons||Traveling to the event itself||
|Non-attendee road users||Traveling for reasons other than the event itself||
Successful TDM strategies, developed to reduce the amount of event patron traffic, encourage the use of alternate travel modes. Essentially, a successful, integrated plan includes, for example, providing convenient alternates to driving an automobile to the event site and encouraging the use of these alternate travel modes. This includes increases in scheduled public transit service. In addition, express bus service can also be provided from park and ride lots to the event site as well as charter buses traveling to the event site from outlying areas. TDM strategies are also used to influence the travel patterns of non-attendee road users by encouraging a trip time shift or a change in travel mode. The resulting reduction in traffic demand reduces travel times for both event patrons and non-attendee road users. TDM also reduces delay, increases levels of safety, decreases motorist stress levels, reduces fuel consumption, and decreases certain vehicle emissions.
Table 7-2 contains a summary of travel demand management strategies.
|High occupancy vehicle (HOV) incentives||
|Event patron incentives||
|Local travel demand management||
The ultimate goal of any high occupancy vehicle (HOV) strategy is to increase the number of persons traveling in each vehicle. One option to reduce the amount of vehicles on the roadway is to encourage HOV use. In some areas, limited-access highways include HOV lanes to increase the attractiveness and efficiency of carpooling and vanpooling. Many of these HOV lanes are intended to assist commuters on a daily basis and, as such, the hours of the HOV may be limited to weekday commuting hours. In the case of a major planned special event, consideration should be given to continuing the HOV restrictions on these lanes to later weekday hours, or even into weekend hours, in order to encourage event patrons to carpool.
Incentives can be provided to encourage two or more persons per vehicle. Figure 7-2 illustrates one such example. The Suffolk County Fair and a radio station (WALK) in New York offered a promotion of $40 per carload on certain days. This price included parking, fair admission, and unlimited rides for everyone in the vehicle. In this manner, it was not economically feasible to travel alone, but rather to travel with as many people as possible in one vehicle.
Another strategy to encourage HOV's involves offering special privileges at the event site. Special parking lots can be restricted to HOV only, and these lots may be located nearer to the venue in order to encourage carpools. Lower parking rates further increase the attractiveness of this initiative. Private parking lot operators can be persuaded to offer special HOV pricing in exchange for promotion in special event advertisements. As demonstrated by Figure 7-3, this information needs to be relayed to the public so that they know the advantages of carpooling to the event site.
One successful implementation of HOV incentives took place at Husky Stadium on the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle for football games.(1) The Transportation Management Plan (TMP) included a parking pricing system to provide financial incentives for carpooling. During the 2000 football season, parking on campus cost $7 for vehicles with three or more persons and $10 for vehicles with less than three persons. Operators charged $17 for parking a recreational vehicle and $20 for buses, regardless of the number of people in the vehicle. In addition to the cost incentives, a marketing plan was also developed to encourage carpooling. Messages such as "carpools save time and money and are a lot more fun than going alone" were incorporated into the Husky football transportation guide.
In addition to the plan implemented for University of Washington football games, a similar plan was implemented for Seattle Seahawks football games during the 2000–2001 season when stadium construction forced the Seahawks to use Husky Stadium for home games. The public information campaign for Seahawks football included a summary of available parking in the vicinity of the stadium. Since the Seahawks were playing in a temporary stadium, fans had to be oriented to: (1) new traffic flow routes to access the stadium and (2) new event parking locations and costs. A public information campaign outlined Husky Stadium parking limitations, including only 9,000 on-campus spaces being provided as compared to the 11,000 free on-street parking spaces and 35,000 off-street parking spaces around the Seahawks original stadium. Carpool parking pricing incentives were established similar to those used for University of Washington football games. At the beginning of the season, game day parking was $15 for carpools with three or more persons per vehicle and $20 for vehicles with less than three persons. Stakeholders reduced the carpool parking fee in mid-season to $10 in an effort to increase higher vehicle occupancy.
In addition to venue operators offering HOV privileges at venue parking areas, private parking operators in the site area can also be encouraged to offer special incentives to event patrons. For example, if private lot operators offer a special HOV discount, then the event advertisements can mention that particular private lot by name and location. The "free advertising" may help private operators balance discounts given for HOV parking.
Thus, three high occupancy vehicle incentive techniques include:
Stakeholders managing discrete/recurring events at a permanent venue that generate high peak arrival and departure rates can encourage event patrons to arrive early or leave late in order to reduce the peak traffic demand.
Sporting events and concerts fall into this category given that, when the game or show ends, the majority of event patrons leave the venue at one time. This departure pattern scenario can be offset using several strategies:
Incentives that can be used to attract patrons to events earlier than usual include:
Venues that do not have pre- or post-event activities can solicit suggestions from the public through mailings or via the venue website. For example, when season ticket applications or tickets to the event are mailed, an accompanying survey can ask event patrons which type of pre- or post-game activities they would be more likely to take advantage of. Similar types of questions can also be presented on an event or venue website, as illustrated in Figure 7-4. As a result, the pre- or post-game events will cater to the persons who actually attend the event, thus increasing the number of spectators attending staged activities. For recurring events, stakeholders can survey the patrons in the venue or distribute suggestion cards when patrons enter or exit the venue.
One example of implementing successful event patron incentives involves the San Jose, CA "America Festival". The website for this event alerted spectators that they need to plan ahead for the event's hallmark 4th of July fireworks display since the park venue reached capacity early the year before. The website suggested that event patrons arrive early and see one of the many bands that performed at the festival in addition to sampling the food and drinks available. In this manner, the arrival patterns to the event become spread out over a longer time period. Instead of all spectators showing up at one time, the arrival patterns are influenced by the music that the event patron would like to listen to. In addition, the availability of food and drinks at the festival also helps to spread out the arrival patterns. These incentives reduce congestion by reducing the peak arrival rate of event patrons. Collectively, the incentives convert a discrete event (fireworks display) into a continuous event (festival).
In addition to the recommendations for arriving event patrons, the website also suggested that spectators remain after the fireworks for another concert. Figure 7-5 displays the slogan posted on the event website. In this manner, stakeholders assumed that some event patrons would leave immediately after the fireworks display and some would stay to listen to the music. This reduces the peak departure demand on the transportation system. The post-fireworks concert entertained spectators as they waited for traffic congestion to dissipate. In turn, event patrons did not feel that they were just "sitting around and waiting" for congestion to dissipate.
Another alternate form of transportation that can be used to access the event is a bicycle, especially in downtown areas. Special accommodations need to be provided for event patrons that wish to arrive by bicycle. Safety is a concern for all bicyclists, and proper bicycle paths need to be provided. These paths can consist of existing bike lanes and trails that are augmented with temporary paths leading to the event site. The provision of bicycle paths maximizes safety for the bicyclists and keeps them off roadways that experience higher traffic volumes due to the event.
Security represents a major concern of bicyclists. Figure 7-6 shows a bicycle parking area for a planned special event. In order to encourage bicycle travel, bicycle parking areas may be staffed (e.g., valet service) to prevent bicycle theft. In addition, if the bicycle parking area is located close to the entrance of the venue, it may encourage event patrons to use their bicycles in order to access the event easier. Public transit operators may also provide accommodations for bicycles during events, such as bicycle racks on the front of transit buses that allow spectators to access mass transit while carrying a bicycle.
TDM strategies that reduce the amount of background, non-attendee traffic consist of:
For non-attendee road users, a successful TDM plan encourages alternate travel choices, such as avoiding travel during times of event ingress/egress or travel near the event venue, that ultimately increase mobility and travel time reliability for these users compared to their default travel choice. This includes personal and business travel in addition to commercial truck travel.
Businesses can help minimize traffic demand during peak commuting hours through implementing TDM strategies such as:
Carpooling should also be encouraged by major employers and through public information campaigns. In order to assist the business community in the implementation of TDM, information detailing recommended strategies and how to implement them should be distributed.
The event planning team should inform the local community as to the magnitude of the planned special event through a series of press releases and public service announcements. Alternate routes to and around the event can also be published in daily newspapers, discussed on local television or radio news, and communicated by public and private traveler information services.
In the special case of events that occur infrequently, businesses located in the immediate vicinity of a venue (e.g., hosting a Monday Night Football game) may allow employees to leave early on event dates. This initiative causes an increase in parking supply for event patrons. A public information campaign can be used to notify businesses of the possible problems that could occur and how these problems can be alleviated by clearing, for example, a downtown area prior to a certain time.
Successful local travel demand management techniques, instituted by local businesses, were utilized during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.(2) These strategies effected a change in residents' travel patterns during the event. A post-event telephone survey indicated that about one-fifth of residents changed their travel patterns during the games. The predominant change involved employers revising normal work schedules during the event and allowing earlier work hours or flexible schedules.
In order to reduce commercial truck traffic, stakeholders should contact pertinent trucking companies and advise them of times that truckers should avoid traversing freeway and arterial corridors serving the event venue. Trucking companies should attempt to reduce the number of truck trips made and shift some of their remaining truck trips to nighttime hours. Special mailings can be sent to long haul trucking companies in order to inform them of an upcoming planned special event and affected road corridors. In addition, fliers can be distributed to truck drivers at major points of entry to the region, disseminating information on the days and times of the event, high impact locations, and special traffic patterns. During the event, e-mails containing traffic advisories can be sent to trucking companies so that they can, in turn, get the word out to truckers via citizens-band radio and through their electronic distribution lists. Portable changeable message signs (CMS) and highway advisory radio (HAR) can also be placed at major ports of entry to alert truck drivers.(2)
Some components of a successful freight management plan include requiring trucks to have permits to enter certain areas between a set time frame. In this way only trucks that need to be in the area will be present during peak traffic times. In addition, delivery hours can be restricted to overnight to completely avoid conflict with event traffic. Long-haul trucking can be discouraged from certain roadways in the event area by providing directions on the roadway that divert trucks around the area surrounding an event venue.