Return on Investment of TDM

Up to $11.80 in benefits can be gained for every $1 invested in bicycling and walking opportunities. States with the highest levels of biking and walking also have the lowest levels of costly chronic disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programs have historically been implemented to address traffic congestion and air pollution caused by vehicle travel or to reduce transportation energy consumption. The TDM community has developed approaches to measure performance or quantify achievements towards these goals. The impacts of a TDM program are often expressed in terms of reductions in vehicle trips, vehicle miles traveled (VMT), emissions, and fuel used. But these measures tell the TDM story in a language mainly understood by TDM audiences. The story does not resonate with the wider world. Furthermore, these measures do not tell the entire TDM story.

The traditional TDM measures are not commonly used in other urban transportation disciplines, such as highway operations, or public transit. This hinders “apples to apples” comparisons of results of TDM with other transportation strategies. Also, TDM evaluations are not typically presented in cost-benefit or economic return on investment terms. This puts TDM at a disadvantage when funding agencies try to prioritize projects in order to make wise investment decisions.

It is also important to note that increased transportation system efficiency and environment-friendly travel are only two of many potential benefits generated by TDM strategies. Some TDM strategies also support other social, economic, and sustainability objectives, including enhancing personal mobility and site access, supporting economic growth and stability, improving public health and safety, and enhancing residents’ quality of life. There are no established methods for such comprehensive analyses to represent the true value of TDM benefits.

This project aims to quantify the comprehensive benefits of TDM strategies in order to:

  • Compare ROI of TDM strategies to other transportation investments
  • Help communicate the full cost and benefit of choosing a travel mode

We are looking for partners to help:

  • Identify the full range of benefits to be examined based on questions being faced from the public and/or policy makers
  • Develop a method for a comprehensive and reliable economic assessment of TDM benefits that calculates the return on investment for TDM programs
  • Develop an approach to compare return on investment of TDM strategies to other transportation projects
  • Communicate a broad understanding of the role and benefits of TDM projects for a variety of public objectives

What expectations or goals are being placed on transportation investments in your state or region?

What are funders and other decision-makers expecting TDM to accomplish?

What questions are you asked by decision-makers, the traveling public, or other stakeholders about your achievements?

Have you promoted diverse and creative applications or benefits of TDM that resonated with audiences outside the transportation world?

What methods or tools have you successfully used to communicate TDM benefits?

We need to hear from you to make this project more relevant and useful to the TDM community. We also need to know about relevant evaluation research, surveys, or other studies or information that you have encountered about measuring benefits or ROI for TDM or other transportation projects. Because some TDM benefits are not typically associated with transportation, methods to quantify non-traditional TDM benefits (e.g., health, economic vitality, community enhancement, etc) likely will need to draw on non-transportation disciplines. These studies also would be very useful to this project.