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Data Requirements for a Province-wide Travel Demand Model


Saskatchewan is in the midst of a population and economic boom, driven by resources such as
oil and gas. At the same time, the distribution of other industries, such as agriculture, is
changing, as the consolidation of rail transfer points forces farmers to truck their wheat longer
distance; and the catchment areas of the Province’s two largest urban activity centres – Regina
and Saskatoon – continue to expand.
One result is that the Province must consider rapidly growing demands for private and
commercial travel on its highways, and the resultant impacts for improvements, maintenance
and rehabilitation. To help in the planning decision-making, the Saskatchewan Ministry of
Highways and Infrastructure (MHI) is considering the development of a Province-wide travel
demand forecasting model. The model would focus on highway traffic, and would be integrated
with the existing urban models.
As a first step, MHI studied the data requirements for a Province-wide model. The study began
by defining potential modelling approaches. Based on this definition, an inventory was prepared
of existing data sources among Provincial, Federal and local agencies that potentially could be
used to develop the model. Over 30 sources were found, comprising both travel data, such as
traffic counts and origin-destination surveys, and demographic and socio-economic data. The
inventory considered completeness, geographical coverage, representativeness, levels of
spatial and temporal detail and ease of use, among other attributes. It also examined the ability
to forecast the data at the necessary geographies.
Next, the available data were assessed against the needs of the potential modelling
approaches. From this, data gaps were identified as the basis for the specification of several
data collection options. The options, and combinations of these options, are designed to allow
the Province-wide model to evolve as different needs arise and as funding allows.
The paper describes the inventory and the proposed data collection options. Importantly, the
options focused on the feasibility of emerging electronic data collection technologies, including
cellphones, GPS traces and loggers. The paper also speaks to the practical challenges and
opportunities from the use of these data, especially the electronic sources.
Although the paper describes a rural / inter-urban application, it should be of interest to urban as
well provincial transportation planners, many of whom are faced with similar data needs and
opportunities in developing forecasts for their own jurisdictions. In particular, this paper speaks
to the following considerations:
Many of the actual data sources examined in this study, and certainly many of the data types, are applicable to urban, regional and provincial jurisdictions across the country.

Interest in the nation’s transportation community is growing in the potential deployment of electronic technologies to collect travel data.
Most attention in the literature is given to data for large urban areas. However, there is still a need to conduct surveys in smaller urban communities, whose requirements can differ from those of the large areas.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Best Practices in Urban Transportation Planning (A)
Kriger, D.
Transportation planning