Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies


Note From the Director
Office of Transportation Management, Office of Operations
Federal Highway Administration

As we advance further into the 21st Century, strategies to manage demand will be more critical to better transportation operations and system performance than strategies to increase capacity (supply) of facilities. The inability to easily and quickly add new infrastructure, coupled with the growth in passenger and freight travel, have led to the need for transportation system managers and operators to pay more attention to managing demand.

The original concepts of demand management took root in the 1970s and 1980s from legitimate desires to provide alternatives to single occupancy commuter travel – to save energy, improve air quality, and reduce peak-period congestion. Today, the need to manage travel demand has broadened to encompass the desire to optimize transportation system performance for both commute and non-commute types of trips, and during both recurring as well as non-recurring events.

Growth in population, number of vehicles and the number of travelers, freight, and development has affected travel demand and re-shaped travel patterns. Managing travel demand now occurs at shopping malls, tourist sites, employment areas, or special events, such as the Olympics. The need to manage demand can occur in the middle of the day, during weekends, or evenings. Demand–side approaches are needed to help address transportation issues created by growth and the variability in demand for use of the system.

In this light, the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Transportation Management is pleased to present this new report on demand-side strategies and the important role that it plays in 21st Century transportation operations. This report builds upon previous work done on travel demand management in the early 1990’s to present a newer, more contemporary, perspective on what managing demand in the 21st Century really means.

Given the greater need to manage demand under a broader set of situations and conditions, as well as the influence of information and the technologies to deliver it, the concept of demand management in the 21st Century takes on a broader and more relevant meaning. Managing demand in the 21st Century goes beyond just encouraging travelers to change their travel mode from driving alone to a carpool, vanpool, public transit vehicle, or other alternative. Managing travel demand today is about providing travelers, regardless of whether they drive alone or not, with informed choices of travel route, time, and location – not just travel mode.

Information and the technology to deliver it to travelers are beginning to have a significant impact on managing demand for both commute and non-commute situations. Real-time information systems can now let travelers make better decisions about how they travel (mode), when they travel (time), which route they travel (route), and whether they travel at all. Real-time traveler information systems are also critical to managing significant shifts in demand that occur as a result of special events, tourist activity, incidents and emergencies, schools, shopping centers, recreation areas, medical facilities, weather problems, and reconstruction projects. In the 21st Century, the need to deliver information to help manage transportation demand will grow and be further supported by intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies.

The FHWA Office of Operations has a two-pronged action agenda of awareness and guidance to evolve the thinking of managing demand to a more 21st Century perspective. This report is a significant step in that direction.

To learn more, visit our website at:
We look forward to working with organizations, public agencies, and interest groups to advance the ideas presented in this publication.

Jeffrey Lindley
Office of Transportation Management, FHWA

Office of Operations