Mountain Accord Travel Demand Model Development

The Project

The Mountain Accord Program is a high-profile regional study that considers, among other things, the future of transportation and land use in the Central Wasatch Mountains.  The program’s goals include expansion of transit service to mountain destination, improved transit connections between the valley and the Wasatch Back and within Park City, as well as improved safety and access for bicycles and pedestrians. To help evaluate the broad range of proposed solutions, Fehr & Peers expanded the geography of WFRC/MAG regional travel demand model by 25% to include the urbanizing areas east of the Central Wasatch and the urban Wasatch Front. Further, Fehr & Peers developed model enhancements that are sensitive to recreational travel by both residents and visitors. The recreational travel market is an important aspect of the study, including both resort and dispersed recreation destinations.

The Need

This model was developed to be sensitive to seasonal and environmental factors like autumn sightseeing or snowfall characteristics at ski areas, so we can ask “what if” questions related to the status of attractions that currently draw visitors. Significant mode choice modifications represent visitor travel choices (e.g. rental vehicles and shuttles) from airports to hotels to major recreation areas.

Our Solution

Fehr & Peers leveraged numerous data sources beyond the traditional household trend survey, including recreation intercept surveys, parking utilization data, and cellular phone-based origin-destination data. The resulting model is suitable for making planning decisions such as how best to enhance transit service to popular recreational areas and how to accommodate an increasing number of travelers to a sensitive natural mountain environment.

Our Results

The Mountain Accord travel demand model was designed to be sensitive to recreational mountain-oriented travel.  To answer the questions of interest to stakeholders, the model needed to be sensitive to differing recreational travel markets including seasonal changes, both concentrated and dispersed recreational patterns, weekday versus weekend travel, and differing travel patterns by both residents and visitors.  The model building process brought together data from disparate sources, using each data source to its best strength while keeping a coherent structure of the model as a whole.  Among the model components built for mountain-oriented recreation included recreation-specific trip purposes, land uses, mode options, and a visitor travel component, tracing visitors from external gateways and the airport to hotels, and onward to major recreation attractions.  The completed model is now in use to help stakeholders to evaluate specific transportation scenarios as the Mountain Accord project continues.

Key Takeaways:

Expanded the WFRC/MAG Travel Model to Include Wasatch and Summit Counties

Estimated Travel Patterns Within and Between The Wasatch Front and Wasatch Back

Incorporated Extensive Data Including Households, Employment, Demographics, Recreation Travel, and Transit