How to Avoid Dead-End Transportation Projects

By November 3, 2020 March 10th, 2021 No Comments
Madison WI

Figure 1: O-D traffic volume, by destination zone.

The results revealed that very few people from EJ priority areas left the county for work. As you can see in Figure 1, the destination area with the most activity had only 27 trips made over a 24-hour period. Given limited resources, we quickly determined that 27 trips was not enough demand to warrant further investigation of the potential for employee buses or shuttle services linking EJ priority areas to employers outside the county.

We could see immediately that it was an option that didn’t need further research. 

Refocus Resources on Wins

While ‘dead ends’ like this are usually perceived as negative, in this case it was beneficial that we came to this conclusion so quickly. Within 10-15 minutes, we ruled out the need to further investigate travel patterns from EJ priority areas to employers outside the county, and moved onto investigating other travel patterns and how we could improve transportation options to better serve people living in EJ priority areas. 

Because we saved resources upfront, we had the time and money to focus our attention on travel within Dane County and refine our research questions: When are people from particular EJ priority areas traveling within Dane County? Where are they traveling? How could buses or bike infrastructure improve their travel options? 

Our big priority now is the transit development plan, and Big Data has provided important tools to make sure transit works for all of Madison’s population. 

Ben Lyman is a transportation planner at the Greater Madison Metropolitan Planning Organization.