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You’ve been asked to submit a plan to remodel a house. But you don’t know what the house looks like, how many rooms it has, or how each room will be used. This is the type of dilemma facing transportation planners across the country.

Is the Future as Murky as it Seems?

Transportation

You’ve been asked to submit a plan to remodel a house. But you don’t know what the house looks like, how many rooms it has, or how each room will be used. Sound tough? Now you have an idea of the type of dilemma facing transportation planners across the country.

Planning for infrastructure that must last decades in a fast-changing world is challenging. Predict, for example, how travel patterns might change with the deluge of ride-hailing companies—especially when these companies are now providing not just rides but fast-food delivery, medical, and even landscaping services. Consider how land use might change with autonomous vehicles. Do we build fewer parking garages? Can we live farther away if we can do work while our cars drive us to our jobs? 

While they may not have a crystal ball, transportation planners can predict trends using sophisticated models and data. The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a leader in the development and use of advanced transportation modeling tools. The MAG Activity-Based Model (MAG ABM) has been applied to a number of challenging planning tasks. 

During recent updates of the model, the opportunity arose to ask industry experts for further suggestions, recommendations and review of the MAG ABM. A large panel of experts from federal agencies, state departments of transportation, major Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and leading consultants and academics in the field assembled at MAG for two days of in-person Peer Review meetings.

“The exchange went beyond evaluation of the model into discussions on the future of transportation forecasting and modeling,” said MAG Director of Transportation Technologies and Services Vladimir Livshits. “We were able to map next steps for the development of modeling tools in the region.”

Dr. Livshits said peer reviews have become an industry standard for identification and dissemination of best practices. He is encouraged that field experts find MAG’s models to be among the best anywhere.

“These sophisticated models are critical to regional transportation planning,” he said. “They ensure that the planning process can rely on forecasting tools that will account for new socioeconomic environments and emerging planning challenges.”

Published January 28, 2019

About MAG

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments (COG) that serves as the regional planning agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area.

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