Here’s how our new Transportation Cost Savings Calculator works in our hometown of Arlington, Virginia.
From years of studying transportation demand management (TDM), Mobility Lab knows there’s an intrinsic – one could almost say hidden – value in getting people to understand that they have transportation options.
With by some estimates 85 percent of vehicles during rush hour containing only one occupant, reducing the amount of drive alone trips could radically improve people’s quality of life.
While almost every TDM program across the country is a success, (we’re really proud of the work done by Arlington Transportation Partners) few have done a good job of making the business case for how economically valuable they are to any given area or region.
Mobility Lab and our partners are releasing the Transportation Cost-Savings Calculators today at the perfect venue: the Association for Commuter Transportation’s annual conference, which brings together TDM professionals from everywhere, including other countries.
The industry will often proclaim successes for individual initiatives, but those are happening nationwide and have a very sprinkled, ad-hoc appearance. The calculators are something that could finally help ACT members and many others working in transportation start to build the case for their TDM efforts.
The TDM ROI (return on investment) Calculator “will give regions the ability to learn enough about societal benefits to add to their messaging,” said Lori Diggins of LDA Consulting, which played a vital role in building the tool, which is easy to use but has a wealth of complex data from dozens of studies powering it in the background.
“It will give regions fundamental calculation opportunities that they don’t currently have. Many are doing it ad hoc, based on a project-type basis,” she added.
To give a sense of what happens when someone sits down to use the TDM ROI Calculator: there are a few elements to input, such as selecting the correct city or region, what type of place it is, and what types of transit exist (or don’t), and how many people participate in local TDM programs.
One place that we’ve calculated is Arlington, Va., where the numbers show that for every $1 invested in TDM programs offers a return on investment of up to $9.
In the geographically-small, urban locale adjacent to Washington D.C., up to 45,000 vehicle trips and 900,000 miles of travel are taken off the roads each workday by the TDM program shifting people from driving alone to sustainable modes of travel.
Those improvements result in approximately 14 lane miles of road construction deferred. The savings to commuters, society, and government are up to $75 million per year in the seven measured societal benefits.
Although Arlington has one of the U.S.’s biggest TDM programs, just about every region’s data is included in the TDM ROI Calculator. And no matter how big or small a program may be, the tool can work to show how many dollars are returned in societal benefits for each dollar invested in TDM.
One of the continually most fascinating elements of being a TDM professional is getting to study and understand the glaring lack of methods that Americans employ in their daily transportation habits. We mostly just get up and go – into our drive-alone car trips.
These calculators will hopefully be a piece of the puzzle for helping change our lives for the better.
Find out more here: mobilitylab.org/calculators.