Incorporate Emerging Travel Modes in the Regional Strategic Planning Model (RSPM) Tool

Liming Wang, Portland State University



Performance-based planning helps local and state decision makers to understand the potential impacts of policy decisions, supporting cost-effective investments and policy choices that can help achieve policy goals.  In addition, it can enable monitoring of progress and facilitate needed adjustments, help them communicate to the public, and assist them with meeting federal regulations and the intent of MAP21. The Regional Strategic Planning Model (RSPM) is a performance-based planning tool first developed by Oregon State DOT (as GreenSTEP) and later adapted for use by other states in the form of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Emissions Reduction Policy Analysis Tool (EERPAT) and the underlying basis of the SHRP2 C16 Smart Growth Area Planning software (SmartGAP).

As the popularity of the RSPM tool grows and application cases expand, there is recognition that a deeper understanding is needed to determine how mode choices and mode share may be impacted by policy and investment decisions and how these mode choices further influence performance outcomes of the transportation system. This is particularly important when the tool is applied in a broader base of planning and decision-making processes to truly understand what may be the best decisions for the entire multi-modal and inter-modal transportation system.

ODOT is sponsoring a first phase research project led by this research team to incorporate broad stroke multi-modal travel choices in the RSPM tool. This proposed project hopes to leverage the ODOT and NITC funding to further study, along with existing modes, emerging travel modes, including car sharing, bike sharing, and autonomous vehicles, with stated preference (SP) experiments, and incorporate these new options into the RSPM tool. These modes have been rapidly gaining popularity worldwide, which will have long-term implications for car ownership decisions, fleet characteristics, travel patterns, and further system-wide performance outcomes. By incorporating these modes in the mode choice module, this project will make the RSPM tool sensitive to policies and investment targeted to shift mode share and enable it to evaluate futures in which these modes may become the mainstream, besides contributing to the emerging body of research that aims to better understanding these modes. 

Photo by Felix Tchverkin on Unsplash


This research is the first to investigate substitution and travel patterns among both existing and potential users of emerging travel modes - car sharing, bike sharing and autonomous vehicles. We would also use the resulting substitution and travel patterns to improve the RSPM tool and make it sensitive to policy inputs that would influence adaptation and usage of these new modal options, and capable of evaluating future scenarios where these emerging modes may become mainstream.

The Regional Strategy Planning Model (RSPM) tool, along with the SHRP2 SmartGAP tool, is part of an ODOT-FHWA partnership that will merge 4 GreenSTEP-based models into a common code framework. The enhancement to the RSPM tool by this research project will be be used in planning for livable communities by communities across the nation. Since the RSPM tool can work as a policy evaluation tool for areas without travel demand models or emission modeling experience, or as a quick policy screening tool for areas that do use more complex models, it will be available and useful to regions of all sizes. The incorporation of a wide range of alternative modes in a relatively simple framework will enable communities and regions to make better informed, more responsive performance-based policy decisions.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
August 31,2018
UTC Grant Cycle:
Natl Round 2
UTC Funding: