NJTPA Update Blog

May 2020

Chair DeFillippo Discusses Pandemic’s Impact on Planning Work

Posted: 5/19/2020 3:17:34 PM

Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, NJTPA ChairThe NJTPA has continued to work to advance transportation projects and programs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. NJTPA Chair Kathryn DeFillippo, a Morris County freeholder, recognized this at Monday’s virtual Board meeting while also reflecting on how much has changed in recent weeks.
The NJTPA was already preparing its next long-range transportation plan, which will consider game changers — such as technological advancements and climate change — that could affect the future. The pandemic will be a key factor in this planning effort.
“We must consider how our plans and programs can help our region bounce back and adapt to the new realities of public health,” Freeholder DeFillippo said.
The Board began its meeting with a moment of silence for Jersey City Councilman Michael Yun, who served as an alternate member for several years. Councilman Yun died last month due to complications from COVID-19.
“COVID-19 has brought tragedy to families across our region and shaken our economy, threatening the lives and livelihoods of many, many of our friends and neighbors,” Chair DeFillippo said.
She also paid tribute to the essential workers who are putting themselves at risks to help others — healthcare workers, grocery store employees, factory and warehouse workers, first responders, truck drivers, delivery people and postal workers, transit workers, road maintenance crews and those working at the port.
“It should be noted that many of the essential workers stepping out of the safety of their homes every day are public servants working in the agencies that sit on this board, including NJDOT, NJ TRANSIT, and the Port Authority,” she said.  “Others are employed by county or local governments.  They all deserve our thanks for helping us get through these troubled times.”
While the NJTPA is not on the front lines, Chair DeFillippo noted that the agency must ensure the region remains eligible to receive federal funding by maintaining the Transportation Improvement Program, updating the long-range plan and monitoring air quality, among other things. She said the Board could also be tasked with approving transportation funding under future federal stimulus bills.
“I look forward to working with you to navigate these uncharted waters,” she said. “Above all, I hope you and your families stay safe. We will get through this together.”

Webinars Feature Transportation Modeling Approaches from Around the Country

Posted: 5/18/2020 3:37:00 PM

NJTPA staff hosted four webinars from mid-March to mid-April to hear from other MPOs around the country about their travel demand modeling experiences and approaches. The webinars were part of efforts by the NJTPA to consider upgrades to its computer model which is used to simulate the operation of the regionwide transportation system and to forecast and analyze travel patterns for required planning activities.

The webinars each featured two presenters from around the country. They allowed NJTPA and partner agency planners and technical staff to learn about using models to help answer questions facing the region — the impacts of emerging transportation technologies, changing demographics and behavior, new travel modes, and economic changes.

The NJTPA’s model currently uses traditional “trip-based” methods to predict where and when individuals travel for specific activities such as work, education or shopping. A more complex approach, “tour-based” modeling, is used by several of the agencies that presented in the webinars. This approach considers travel behavior in greater detail. It groups together trips into a tour, which reflects an individual’s travel from home to one or more destinations and then back home. In contrast, trip-based modelling does not associate various stops with the same individual. Some of the agencies also discussed “destination choice” models, which could improve accuracy as well.

Webinar participants also heard about useful online resources such as the OpenStreetMap, a collaborative online map built on the model of Wikipedia, and General Transit Feed Specification data which allows transit schedules to be compiled from various providers. These can help to better represent road, public transit, walking and biking trips.

In addition to assessing regional travel and air quality impacts, the NJTPA model is adapted by partner agencies and subregions for use in predicting local effects such as land use changes. Any upgrades to the NJTPA model would consider these functions. As highlighted in the webinars, added complexity would require more data, computing power and staff time, but could strengthen the ability of planners and policy makers to understand the choices and needs of the traveling public.
Webinar presenters included the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission; metropolitan planning organizations in Baltimore, Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth, Portland (Oregon), and Seattle; and the North Carolina DOT, which conducts modeling for Charlotte. Partners from NJTPA subregions, NJ TRANSIT, the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Port Authority of NY and NJ, and Federal Highway Administration participated. The webinars were held on March 11th, March 23rd, April 8th and April 22nd.