Our FP Think group recently completed development of our new TrendLab+ 2020 tool for forecasting near-term and medium-term travel demand effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As noted in our earlier blog post, we designed the tool to identify how various factors have and will affect travel demand, including factors such as willingness to share, levels of goods and services delivery, amounts of remote work, economic activity, and land use patterns, among others.
We’ve since continued to refine and calibrate these factors based on available literature, our FP Think group’s collective expertise, and the latest driving and transit trends. As a result, we have learned even more about how we can model post-pandemic travel effects.
What are the Features of TrendLab+?
The tool includes a number of key features and innovations, including the following:
- Dynamic User Interface: We’ve developed a web-based interface to view outputs in real time, on both an absolute and per capita basis.
- Driving and Transit Metrics: The tool focuses on levels of driving and transit ridership, though it can also be customized to include other factors, such as walking, biking, and system performance.
- Varying Time Horizons: TrendLab+ has the ability to look at travel over the next 3-5 years, as well as the next 10 years, to provide both short-term and medium-term time horizons.
- Customization: We’ve built in capabilities to customize tool data and layouts to reflect local conditions or different performance metrics.
- Counter Strategies: The tool also has the ability to consider proactive countermeasures in response to expected trends.
What Are We Learning?
In our last blog post, we identified four potential scenarios for how travel demand could change over the next three years. As we’ve further advanced TrendLab+ 2020 tool development, we have discovered several important results:
Vehicle Miles Traveled
VMT continues to increase on a month-over-month basis, but in many scenarios this increase will soon level off or plateau.
Depending on which factors are considered, the VMT “plateau” may be short term or extend for a longer time period.
On a per capita basis, VMT could remain relatively flat, at around 80-90% of baseline 2019 demand, even as far into the future as 2030 if COVID-19-related concerns induce suburban migration or permanent preferences for working from home.
Under some scenarios, VMT (and congestion levels) will continue to increase through 2030 as preferences for driving outweigh the convenience of other modes.
Transit continues to rebound slowly from current historic lows, and the magnitude and duration of the recovery period remains uncertain.
Medium-Term Ridership Rebound
In an optimistic scenario, transit demand could fully rebound as soon as 2023.
Extended Ridership Reduction
However, it may also take longer for transit to recover to previous ridership levels. Under more pessimistic scenarios, transit may not fully recover until 2025 or beyond.
Rapid Ridership Recovery & Growth
There is a potential for transit recovery to occur sooner if a vaccine becomes available within the next year and transit agencies take proactive measures to attract riders and ensure safety.
While the above results are based on national data, the TrendLab+ 2020 tool can be customized and fine-tuned to available local factors. Please connect with us if you would like to discuss or learn more about TrendLab+ 2020 or our other custom tools.