Integrating TSMO & ADM with with multi-modal demand and mobility management
Despite the prevalence of capital projects and traditional strategies focused on shifting drivers toward more sustainable modes--including vanpool programs, flexible work hours, public outreach surrounding construction zones, arterial optimization strategies, and more--the percent of commuters driving alone in the Houston region has consistently hovered around 80%.
In an effort to deploy an innovative solution that optimizes available capacity while managing the demand growth, shifts, and spikes associated with scheduled and unscheduled events, the Texas Department of Transportation Houston District (TxDOT HOU) applied for and received an Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Under this grant, TxDOT HOU will deploy ConnectSmart, an advanced framework integrating Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) and Active Demand Management (ADM) with multi-modal demand and mobility management. Through ConnectSmart, TxDOT HOU aims to establish a model technology deployment site that enhances the safety, reliability, and efficiency of Houston’s regional transportation system by reducing congestion and maintaining quality of life and economic vitality.
Metropia was selected to lead the ConnectSmart deployment team and provide the technology platform through which demand is managed and traveler behavior is influenced in real-time to achieve operational objectives. The ConnectSmart platform will integrate various advanced mobility technologies and data sources to provide predictive multi-/intermodal travel time, cost, and reliability information while leveraging behavioral economics to encourage the use of alternative sustainable mobility options.
ConnectSmart’s platform foundational element is a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) ecosystem aimed at increasing the use of sustainable mobility options. However, ConnectSmart looks to transcend the traditional MaaS concept by incorporating Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) and Active Demand Management (ADM) into a singular MaaS&T platform, where T represents the Tool which addresses system performance. Through this dynamic MaaS&T ecosystem, TxDOT HOU will gain critical insight into the operations of their network, proactively deploy ADM strategies to address traveler demand while improving Houstonians’ travel experiences.
Starting with a white-labeled version of Metropia’s GoEzy trip planning app, the Connectsmart app is developed with regional challenges and resources in mind. Local transit options, rideshare services, vanpools, and more are integrated into the ConnectSmart app to provide its users with currently available and emerging mobility options within a single, convenient platform. The ability to chain together and pay for those services--including bus, taxi, rideshare, light rail, bikeshare, and more--right within the app will increase user access to all local modes for a seamless door-to-door experience.
In addition to increasing awareness of and access to existing modes as well as incorporating emerging modes as they become available, ConnectSmart will introduce Metropia’s dynamic carpooling feature, DUO. DUO will allow Houstonians to form private carpooling groups with friends, family, coworkers, classmates, and other personal groups as well as join public carpooling groups established by others. Working hand-in-hand with some of the city’s largest employers, company-specific carpool groups will be established to increase travel options to-and-from work and reduce congestion on and around their site.
As seen across the United States, mere awareness or even access to more sustainable forms of transportation may not be enough to lure drivers out from behind the wheel of their passengerless vehicles. Leveraging INDUCE, Metropia’s behavior engine, ConnectSmart will proactively manage demand across departure time, route, and mode. By analyzing data that has been captured from GoEzy (e.g., observed travel behavior, inferred activity type, user characteristics acquired via micro-surveys) through sophisticated AI-based mathematical algorithms, users identified as more likely to try a new mobility alternative will be provided with personally and contextually relevant suggestions designed to make them aware of the new mode, allow them to consider the option, and nudge them toward that behavior change. To further increase user engagement, optional incentives can be integrated into the mobile app, but will be judiciously administered to only ‘reward’ changed behavior until the desired behavior is sustained.
Through the cohesive ConnectSmart platform, TxDOT HOU and partnering agencies will gain the unprecedented capability to dynamically monitor, control, and influence travel, traffic, and facility demand of the entire transportation system and over a traveler's entire trip chain.
Expected Project Accomplishments
ConnectSmart expects to reduce regional traffic congestion and improve safety by delivering the following anticipated outcomes:
Enhance and strengthen working partnerships among Houston regional transportation agencies through available ConnectSmart products and shared big-data analytics
Engage Houston’s large employers and employee bases to improve workplace commutes in highly congested areas
Allow users to dynamically discover sustainable mobility options--including carpooling, vanpooling, transit, and shifting travel times--to improve their commute while balancing corridor utilization and system capacities
Increase Houston regional transportation agencies’ TSMO capabilities to proactively manage and influence the traffic network/conditions and capacity through enhanced data and analytics (e.g., notify travelers of accidents before and during a trip to prevent secondary crashes and reroute around the accident)
Encourage positive commuter behavior change through multi-sourced data, analytics, and behavioral economics strategies
Provide agencies and travelers alike with critical real-time system information (e.g., travel times, delay, reliability, speeds, crashes, etc.)
Optimize special event traffic management through the push of real-time data (e.g., parking locations/capacities, work zones, incident/flooding locations) to reduce related congestion and safety concerns (e.g., distracted driving in pedestrian/cyclist-heavy areas)
Improve air quality in the nonattainment Houston-Galveston-Brazoria (HGB) region related to vehicle emissions, a critical priority for Houston regional transportation agencies and the region
Partner with local transportation agencies and service providers to optimize transit capacity and utilization by connecting existing services through an intermodal trip planner with mobile payment capabilities