New Data Shows the Real Reason why People Crossed the Road
Landmark travel habits survey a goldmine of quality information


February 28, 2019: A new survey of travel patterns in the Sacramento region has highlighted the differences between how people get around.

For example, one finding was that rural residents spend less time traveling than their urban counterparts. Rural residents average 67 minutes a day traveling, compared to 85 minutes for urban residents. That might seem counterintuitive, as rural residents often live further away from services and jobs. And it is true that rural travelers’ trips are longer on average (9.6 miles) than urban travelers (8.5 miles). But urban people take more trips per day on average (3.8 versus 3.0), meaning they travel 12 percent further than rural people, even though their average trip length of 22 minutes is the same for both.

Data junkies will enjoy diving into the report to discover nuggets such as the fact that 92 percent of vehicles in the region are gas-powered compared to 5.5 percent electric or hybrid; that 48 percent of Uber/Lyft rides happen between Friday and Sunday; and that 94 percent of calls for roadside assistance are made on cell phones. But the survey contains troves of data that are not in the introductory report.

As part of the many services SACOG offers its partner agencies, planners can request custom reports from the survey data. For privacy reasons, planning staff can’t access the raw data but they can request slices of the aggregate data.

The survey’s results represent a huge leap forward in the quality and quantity of information about how people get around our region. The previous household travel survey was done back in 2000, and collected just one day’s worth of data, which was gathered by people filling in surveys of how they traveled. The 2018 survey ran for a full week last spring, meaning weekend travel data was included. It covered almost 4000 households, 8321 persons, and 146,000 linked trips across 34,000 complete person-days.

Even more significant was how the 2018 survey information was collected. Most of the households used a mobile phone app called rMove, which automatically records when and where users travel. A few minutes after the trip ends, users are sent a trip survey, where they can record how they traveled and why. The trip survey shows a map of the trip, making it easier for users to answer it accurately. About 73 percent of the surveyed households used the rMove app, with the remainder filling in their surveys online.

The advanced data collection methods mean the detailed survey data reveals much more accurate trip rates, times, distance traveled, and fuel economy. In turn, SACOG modelers are using this high quality data to make their work much more accurate.

You can learn more and download the survey results here.

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