Travel Demand Forecasting & Modeling

simulation map

Developing accurate and credible forecasts for some of the most challenging and visible modeling projects in the nation has earned Cambridge Systematics international recognition. Our clients benefit from our technical skill, practical solutions, and dedication to improving transportation. Our staff comprises the largest group of transportation modelers in the industry; staff who are trained to listen to our clients’ needs and provide understandable solutions. For more than 40 years, we have developed and applied high-powered and common sense analytical techniques to guide our independent thinking and objective analysis. In fact, we contributed to and in some cases developed many of the travel demand forecasting practices in use in the transportation industry today.

With our roots in market research and travel demand forecasting, our skills include the development and application of models for passenger and freight, transit and highway, and urban, statewide, and intercity projects. From feasibility studies to environmental impact statements (EIS) and model development and improvement, we apply our analytical skills to address federal, state, regional, and local needs. We use all of the major modeling tools available to match the right tools to the challenge and our clients’ needs. We believe that transferring knowledge to our clients is essential and that partnering with them is the best way to achieve it. We ensure that our clients know how to use the tools and techniques when the project is done, as well as apply and communicate the results. We have the deepest and technically most advanced staff of modelers in the country, with more than 40 staff located in our offices across the country. We assign the most appropriate staff to each project, based on a combination of the skills required and geographic proximity.

Our Services

  • Model Development and Application. Cambridge Systematics develops creative, practical solutions for travel demand models such as the estimation and implementation of tour- and activity-based models and the integration of land use and travel models. We have estimated and updated travel forecasting models in more than 25 metropolitan areas. We use all of the major modeling software packages, including Cube, TRANSCAD, and EMME/2. We specialize in the following model types:
    • Passenger/Freight – We have long been a national leader in the development and application of passenger models, and in recent years we have led the nation in the advancement of freight modeling techniques, including the integration of commodity flow data into four-step models
    • Highway/Transit – We are equally comfortable developing forecasts for highway and transit projects, and we are expert in the application of Summit to Federal Transit Administration (FTA) New Starts projects
    • Urban, Statewide, and Intercity – We are a leader in the development and application of models in large urban areas, statewide models, and intercity models. We developed and applied the California Statewide High-Speed Rail Model, and developed Activity Models for the Denver MPO, San Francisco County, and Tel Aviv (Israel)
  • Geographic Information Systems. Cambridge Systematics has been on the forefront of applying geographic information systems (GIS) technology to travel demand forecasting for more than a decade. We develop solutions that enable clients to apply geospatial methods to their business activities, from visualizing and measuring the impact of transportation projects to designing enterprise GIS systems. More than one-third of our modeling staff have expertise in GIS programming and applications, from map making for public outreach to complex statistical analysis.
  • Market Research. Cambridge Systematics is a recognized leader in the development and design of transportation surveys, including the design and use of stated- and revealed-preference surveys and the development of sampling plans. For the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), we authored the Travel Survey Manual, a reference manual covering all types of planning-related surveys, and we have applied these techniques to transportation projects across the country. Our practice is built on the foundation of discrete choice model estimation and statistical analysis, thus ensuring reliable forecasts, particularly in the development of mode choice models for regions considering the introduction of new transit modes. In recent years, we have increasingly applied these skills to toll road traffic and revenue studies, and the identification of strategies for increasing transit ridership.
  • Freight Forecasting. Cambridge Systematics has developed and applied innovative methods for freight forecasting, with projects that represent a wide array of simple truck models to more complex commodity flow models. For the FHWA, we authored the Quick Response Freight Manual, a reference manual about how to develop state and regional freight models. Also for the FHWA, Cambridge Systematics is delivering the new three-day National Highway Institute (NHI) course called Freight Forecasting for Transportation Planning. We also developed and/or applied freight models for states such as Florida and Wisconsin; for urbanized areas, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Phoenix; and for major freight corridors such as Quebec-Windsor for Transport Canada.
  • Research and Training. Cambridge Systematics conducts research on developing model improvements that can be put into practice. We developed and taught training courses in travel surveys, freight forecasting, advanced travel demand forecasting, and model validation, and completed research in time-of-day modeling, commercial vehicle modeling, and short-term model improvements.

Why Cambridge Systematics

Cambridge Systematics has been developing and applying travel demand forecasting models since our formation in 1972. Having developed and continually refined the practices that are now industry standards, we help our clients more efficiently anticipate and mitigate obstacles in identifying the best processes for addressing complex modeling challenges. Our clients save time and money and make better use of their resources. Our modelers, analysts, and statisticians comprise the largest group of seasoned experts in the industry. Members of our staff have pioneered a number of analytical techniques that have increased the accuracy of forecasts. We integrate analytic skill with a deep understanding of transportation data and challenges to find the best solution for our clients.

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