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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Induced Travel Calculator and Its Applications

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The National Center for Sustainable Transportation’s Induced Travel Calculator (Calculator) has generated substantial interest in the professional community as a method for estimating the additional vehicle miles traveled (VMT) induced by expanding the capacity of major roadways. The Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis (ITS-Davis) initiated a technical assistance project to support Caltrans and others in applying the Calculator. This report: (1) provides an overview of the Calculator and the induced vehicle travel effect, (2) summarizes the results from an earlier study comparing the Calculator’s estimates with other induced travel analyses, (3) describes the technical assistance efforts and outcomes, and (4) discusses plans for future improvements to the Calculator. During the project, ITS-Davis advised Caltrans as it developed its Transportation Analysis Framework to guide transportation impact analysis for projects on the State Highway System. Caltrans published the final document in September 2020, in which it recommends that the Calculator be used where possible to estimate induced VMT. ITS-Davis also advised on efforts to apply the Calculator’s elasticity-based method to estimate induced VMT from out-of-state highway capacity expansion projects, including projects in Portland, Oregon, Washington, D.C., Kenya, and China. In a follow-up project, ITS-Davis will work with Caltrans to improve the Calculator documentation to answer questions raised by Caltrans and others, explore possible technical improvements to the Calculator, and explore opportunities for assessing the validity of the Calculator’s induced VMT estimates.

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