Travel demand forecasting models play an important role in guiding policy, planning, and design of transportation systems. There is no shortage of literature critiquing the accuracy of model forecasts (see, for example, Pickrell, 1989; Wachs, 1990; Pickrell, 1992; Flyvbjerg, Skamris Holm, and Buhl 2005; Richmond, 2005; Flyvbjerg, 2007; Bain, 2009; Parthasarathi and Levinson, 2010; Welde and Odeck, 2011; Hartgen, 2013; Nicolaisen and Driscoll, 2014; Schmitt, 2016; Odeck and Welde, 2017, and Voulgaris, 2019), not to mention several high-profile lawsuits (Saulwick 2014, Stacey 2015, Rubin 2018). Many researchers and practitioners feel more can be done to advance rigorous travel analysis methods for the public good (see, e.g., zephyrtransport.org). Motivated by these critiques, a two-day, NSF-funded workshop was held at UC Berkeley in the Spring of 2017 to engage in a fundamental review of the state of the art in travel demand modeling, to discuss the future of the field, and to propose new directions and processes for advancing the science.
Travel demand forecasting is an inherently practical enterprise. While academics drive the fundamental research, the users of travel demand models and forecasts are typically government agencies and transport operators that use the models to inform long-range investment, funding, and planning decisions. Private firms play a key role in assisting the agencies in both development and application of the models, and, more recently, high-tech firms have entered the development fray. While all of these actors have important roles in advancing the science of the field, in this report we focus our attention primarily on the academic side of the enterprise, consistent with the orientation of the funding agency (NSF), and in order to make the task manageable. That said, other sectors are represented in various parts of this report as they interface with academics or play particularly central roles in our proposals for advancing the science.