Useful forecasts of transit travel demand must be grounded in a thorough understanding of existing transit markets, existing transit service characteristics, and how changes to the transit supply associated with a program or project will alter both service and demand. RSG applies these principles to develop transit forecasts that support major capital project sponsors. We do this by using data and models such as the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA’s) Simplified Trips-on-Project Software (STOPS) to supply our clients with defensible insights into future transit ridership patterns in their region.
RSG works closely with project sponsors to specify and calibrate appropriately sensitive modeling tools tailored to their needs. Our team also provides the training required to maximize the utility of these tools. Our goal is to support our clients throughout the transit project planning process so they can confidently make data-driven decisions to support future growth in an efficient and sustainable manner.
STOPS is a forecasting solution our team developed in concert with the team at FTA. At its core, STOPS is a limited implementation of the conventional “4-step” travel demand model. It uses data from the Census Transportation Planning Package, local schedules in General Transit Feed Specification format, and local count and ridership survey information to help users understand regional travel demand, public transportation ridership, and levels of transit service in a region. Based on this understanding, planners can input project changes into the model to predict future service levels across the entire transportation system—or for individual stations.
STOPS supports major capital projects, which most often means urban fixed-guideway projects such as light-rail transit. Importantly for users of STOPS, it requires no primary data collection and instead uses publicly available and standardized data sources; however, an on-board origin-destination survey can sharpen the focus and accuracy of the forecasts. STOPS also offers a simple graphical user interface and can operate on most Windows systems.
Most critically, STOPS produces forecasts that, when used appropriately, have been found to be accurate and that FTA trusts, which is an important consideration for project sponsors seeking to advance major capital projects.
The FTA Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program is a competitive federal grant program used to support the development of fixed guideway transit projects such as commuter rail and bus rapid transit, in urban environments. The CIG program is one of the largest discretionary grant programs currently offered by the federal government. But before projects receive funding, project sponsors first must provide detailed transportation forecasts to FTA for approval. That’s where STOPS and RSG come in.
At RSG, we specialize in generating accurate forecasts based on real-world data to help transit planners win approval for their large-scale transportation investments. Our streamlined approach to realistic ridership estimates enables local agencies to quickly assemble the information they need for their transportation planning processes. These simplified modeling tools we have developed have also become the standard forecasting system for FTA, ensuring seamless project evaluation.
We are the leaders in developing effective, data-driven transit forecasting solutions, leveraging travel market data to accurately predict future ridership and transportation needs. Our traditional transit forecasting services enable our agency clients to generate reliable estimates and projections that are grounded in real-world data and an extensive understanding of current and future markets. With this comprehensive approach, we help decision-makers understand how travel patterns evolve over time to facilitate more effective urban transportation planning.
To serve unique transit needs better, we offer more than just traditional ridership forecasting. We understand that noncommute trips, such as those to airports, stadiums, and universities, require a different approach. It is important to recognize the distinct decisions travelers make in these scenarios. Given this need, our team dives deep into understanding travelers’ choices, especially when presented with multiple options. We employ specialized tools, like stated preference surveys, to truly grasp the motivations behind their travel behaviors. This means decision-makers get insights and solutions tailored to their specific challenges and goals.
The CIG program has a finite amount of funding available—and so does your agency. Transit forecasting is a crucial part of the urban transit planning process, enabling you to accurately estimate ridership levels to justify your transportation investments to the FTA. At RSG, we work closely with project sponsors and apply our insights to help our clients streamline federal review and approval processes and win the funding needed to improve transportation outcomes in their region.