Transportation studies, also commonly referred to as surveys, provide valuable locally-based travel behavior information that helps inform transportation improvements and investments. They answer questions about daily travel habits: where did you go? And how did you get there? Additionally, they provide unique demographic insights and travel patterns that can focus planning efforts to better accommodate community needs. Full-scale household transportation studies are costly undertakings and are typically conducted about every ten years.
Prior to the recently completed 2018 Whatcom Regional Transportation Study, the last household travel survey in the Whatcom region was the 2008 North Sound Travel Survey, notably during a national recession. Whatcom has since recovered and continues to grow along with our larger neighbor Seattle and is commonly found as one of fastest growing places in the nation. Our community’s residential and economic growth combined with technological advancements and recent-year investments into alternative transportation modes continues to influence the transportation landscape.
2018 Whatcom Regional Travel Study
In early 2018, WCOG distributed a request for professional services to conduct the household travel survey. WCOG hired Resource Systems Group, Inc. to prepare the survey’s instruments, conduct the survey, process the data received, and provide documentation and analysis reports.
The complete study time period was January 2018 through April 2019
The study was conducted as a two-part survey. Part one was a questionnaire that gathered basic demographic profile data and typical travel behaviors. Part two involved a travel diary where each household member specified their daily travel details.
Additionally, our region is among the first in the nation to deploy the use of smartphone app technology as the predominant tool used to track daily travel. The smartphone app, RSG’s rMove, accounted for over 60% of the households. Smartphone users were able to participate up to seven days of travel. The remainder of participants reported a single-day of travel through the website travel diary or call-in.
Local marketing efforts were made beginning in September to promote participation into the study. Those outreach included bus posters, an article in the Bellingham Herald, and various website and social media posts. In addition, incentives of $10-15 gift card were provided to those households who completed the study. Our region shined with 1,451 households who completed the study, surpassing the original goal of 1,000 households by 45%!
Definition of a Trip (for this study)
For this study, trips are viewed in terms of origins and destinations. An origin begins as the first trip of the day, generally from home. The destination accounts for the trip end that served a purpose, such as a trip to work or school. The example below illustrates five trips through the course of a day. Each of these trips has an origin and a destination. The idea is to account for every trip through the course of a day.
For data files, please contact WCOG.
2008 North Sound Travel Survey
The 2008 North Sound Travel Survey was conducted as a joint effort to study travel behavior in Whatcom, Skagit, and Island Counties. The survey documents demographics and 24-hour travel behavior characteristics of 1,500 total households (750 from Whatcom County).