Methodologies used to estimate and forecast vehicle miles traveled (VMT) : final report.
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Methodologies used to estimate and forecast vehicle miles traveled (VMT) : final report.

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    Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is a measure used in transportation planning for a variety of purposes. It measures the amount of travel for all vehicles in a geographic region over a given period of time, typically a one-year period. VMT is calculated by adding up all the miles driven by all the cars and trucks on all the roadways in a region. This metric plays an integral role in the transportation planning, policy-making, and revenue estimation processes due to its ability to indicate travel demand and behavior. These data are critical and required to be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) through the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) by state transportation agencies, and are posted on the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT’s) website (1). In the United States, there was continuous growth in VMT in all 50 states until 2008 when growth leveled off due to the economic downturn. An upward growth trend had returned by 2014. Texas shared similar growth patterns with the rest of the nation. TxDOT’s recent Texas Transportation Plan 2040 (2) notes that VMT in Texas is expected to increase by 62 percent from 2010 to 2040 (based on the Texas Statewide Analysis Model [SAM] [3]). Also, the plan states that population in Texas is expected to rise 61 percent over that same time period. This indicates that VMT, including both personal travel and commercial travel, is growing at the same rate as the Texas population. While there are ample data to find historic trends in VMT growth or decline, there are several challenges in forecasting VMT due to the many factors that affect growth rates. Demographics, roadway capacity, economic factors, and other factors contribute to the continued growth or decline, as well as the magnitude of change, of VMT. There are various means of forecasting VMT available. The literature revealed three primary types of data-based methods for estimating and forecasting VMT: - Traffic-count-based methods. - Socioeconomic-data-based methods. - Travel demand forecasting models. The literature also revealed several quantitative and statistical techniques for estimating and forecasting VMT. These include trend/growth factor methods, time series analysis, and regression analysis. The end users of VMT estimates and forecasts typically include state departments of transportation, state environmental agencies, transportation/environmental consultants, and regional planning organizations. These agencies use VMT primarily for transportation planning and emission analyses.
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