'Historically, infrastructure planning has sought to project future conditions as an extension of today, then provided infrastructure to meet anticipated demand. In 2021 and beyond, the approach must be more robust.' Infrastructure Australia. 2021. Reforms to meet Australia’s future infrastructure needs, p5
Putting the customer first is top priority for transport agencies. This requires improving the quality of service to users by providing key infrastructure improvements, offering travel choices, managing as one network and providing integrated services.
Forecasting future travel demand starts with projecting from where we are today – understanding the current and emerging challenges and what that means for the future.
Disruptions, such as the recent pandemic, various mobility on demand innovations and emerging technologies including electric bikes and scooters and autonomous vehicles, mean we can't just project from the past.
Take the congestion challenge for example - it is a symptom of much more difficult issues – funding constraints, poor pricing signals and non-integrated networks, as well as disruptions referred to above. Congestion results of open, unrestricted, unpriced access to the road network.
In reality, demand for travel can never be fully met. But there has to be a better way of estimating and responding to the demands.
To be able to respond to, and manage travel demand, we need to understand the motivators of travel demand from a user perspective.
The 7 Motivators of Travel Demand
To effectively respond to and manage demand, as transport professionals we need to develop strategies and tactics, considering the seven motivators of travel demand
1. Connected: can I get to where I want to go?
By developing connected transport networks, fixing the bottlenecks, giving priority for high value travel such as freight and business travel, and managing transport as one network will help manage demand to the most desirable modes and routes.
2. Reliable: can I be confident in the time required to complete my journey?
To address reliability requires providing accurate, timely real-time travel information, so users can confidently plan their trip.
3. Value: does it provides me value for my money and my time?
Reduce unexpectedness, provide pricing signals to balance demand with supply through dynamic pricing, priced lanes and distance road user charging are all means of maximising public value (in contrast to private, individual value)
4. Safe: is my safety assured?
Providing safe travel is paramount. To achieve this target unsafe travel behaviour through education, controlling speed (such as by variable speed limits) and automating enforcement.
5. Clarity: can I readily find my way?
Plan to provide clear way finding with appropriate signs and online and mobile mapping tools.
6. Service: am I a valued customer?
Focus on customer service, these are (tax) paying customers.
7. Informed: am I told what lies ahead, can I make travel choices?
Use technology to provide information when and where needed, both before and during a trip, to enable trip choices (when to travel, where to travel and how to travel).
Understanding these seven motivators of demand means we are able to adjust the policy levers to respond to travel demands.