CONCLUSIONS & FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
a summary of concluding thoughts from the publication and highlights of important future developments
This report offers a new, broader perspective on demand-side strategies.
These programs can be a critical component of a comprehensive transportation
improvement program to improve the efficiency of the current transportation
system, and they can also be an integral part of longer-term transportation
and land use plans in order to change the fundamental influences on
demand for the single occupant vehicle traveling at peak periods on
congested roads. Ultimately, demand-side programs can be a critical
factor in “decoupling” the link between economic growth
and transportation growth. Economic growth creates new demands for travel
and not all of this new demand can be accommodated on current or future
roads (OECD, 2002).
Demand-side programs, in their traditional form of commute trip reduction, were born from energy crises of the 1970s as a response to fuel shortages. In the new millennium, managing demand extends to all types of travel, be it parents walking a group of kids to school in a “walking bus,” visitors to a National Park leaving their cars off-site and using clean shuttles, new residents opting to live in “transit-oriented developments” to avoid the need for an extra car, or shippers coordinating deliveries to avoid congested roads and clogged city streets.
This is all demand management. Many of the tools used today by transportation planners, traffic engineers, and traffic operations managers are designed to modulate the demand for travel (by mode, route, location or time) rather than provide more capacity in the system to accommodate more trips. This new perspective on demand-side programs can still benefit from some of the findings from the 1993 FHWA report, “Implementing Effective TDM Measures.” That report discussed the “economics of TDM” by estimating that the average cost to society to accommodate a one-way daily solo commute trip was $6.75, whereas the cost to employers to reduce a commute trip was $1.33. Carpooling cost commuters $1.92 per trip, whereas driving alone cost $4.81. (COMSIS 1993) These economics are as compelling today and they were ten years ago. Perhaps as the “demand for TDM” grows and is applied to other travel markets, the economics are even more compelling.
In the future, the role of demand-side programs in solving specific problems and contributing to larger goals will be even greater as our inability to squeeze more cars into a limited road system compels us to look for ways to do things “smarter” and to focus on moving people, goods, and information rather than cars and other vehicles.