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ARC seeks public input on update to Transportation Demand Management Plan

Afternoon commuters at the intersection of I-85, Clairmont Road. (Photo by David Pendered. Car tags blurred.)

By David Pendered

The Atlanta Regional Commission is conducting an online survey of commuters’ mobility patterns as the beginning of a two-year effort to update the region’s program to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion.

April 8 is the deadline to complete the first survey, which is part of the ARC’s “Mobility Connections: A Plan for Expanding Opportunity” project. This is ARC’s version of a Transportation Demand Management Plan, which intends to include livability and economic matters in addition to the two core functions of air quality and mobility.

The survey is presented in a multiple-choice format. It takes a few minutes to complete and asks basic questions about how respondents travel to and from their destinations.

Subjects include travel mode to school or work; if the mode changed during the pandemic and if it’s expected to change again; was the mode selected for its speed, comfort, speed and so forth; and how does the respondent learn of commute options.

The most challenging question appears at the conclusion: “What do you think will be the most important impact on transportation in the metro Atlanta region in the future?”

The responses provided to this question are: “Transit expansion; New or consistently increasing dedicated funding; Technology (including emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles); Increase in remote work; Population growth; Land use decisions (including densification and expansion of live/work/play efforts).”

The information provided by respondents is to help form the basis of the TDM plan ARC intends to complete by 2023.

The primary purpose of a TDM was defined as early as 1994 by the Federal Highway Administration.

“Quite simply,” the 1994 definition states, “TDM programs are designed to maximize the people-moving capability of the transportation system by increasing the number of persons in a vehicle, or by influencing the time of, or need to, travel. To accomplish these types of changes, TDM programs must rely on incentives or disincentives to make these shifts in behavior attractive.”

Metro Atlanta’s civic and political leaders have implemented some of the measures outlined in the 1994 report. They include employer subsidies to use transit, preferential parking for ridesharers and guaranteed ride-home programs for workers who may be summoned home to handle an emergency. Some companies had allowed flexible schedules, and COVID-19 closures brought widespread telecommuting patterns for businesses where that was possible.

ARC intends for the final plan to improve the collaboration between transportation demand and transportation management. The historic divide between TMD and transportation management has blurred in recent years. TDM involves changing behaviors in order to avoid overloading the capacity of roads and transit to serve commuters. Transportation management involves mobility-related efforts that can include maximizing existing infrastructure, such as turning roadside emergency lanes into travel lanes, metering ramps to control flow onto highways and resolving collisions quickly to clear lanes for travel.

The ARC offers this description of the aim of the study that’s starting with the survey: “TDM offers the region the ability to deliver better environmental outcomes, connect individuals with opportunity and essential services, improve public health and social equity, foster stronger communities, and create more prosperous and livable places.”

Click here to learn more about the program and link to the survey.

 

 

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David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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