The Long and Winding Road to the Hawaii Guidelines

Unbeknownst to me the new Hawaii “Guidelines for Project Level Travel Forecasting” report was posted on web by the BTS.  I just now saw it there.  At the risk of a bit of self-promotion let me say that this report is really worth reading or referencing.  It is a customized and entirely rewritten version of much of the salient material contained in NCHRP Report 765.  I will try to explain its significance and how it came into being.

The report was conceived by Goro Sulijoadikusumo of Hawaii DOT.  He approached me with the idea shortly after the 1999 Irvine Conference on statewide travel forecasting.  HDOT needed a local principal investigator, so we recruited Panos Prevedouros to lead the project.  Panos and I wrote a proposal for funding, and everything was set to begin when Linda Lingle was elected governor, freezing a number of HDOT contracts for a time.  Goro moved on to other endeavors, and our idea went into deep hibernation.  After a couple false starts and several snafus, mostly due to conflicts when one state government signs a contract with another state government, we were ready to begin in 2012.  By that time the NCHRP 8-83 project was well underway.

NCHRP Project 8-83 resulted in NCHRP Report 765, Analytical Travel Forecasting Approaches for Project-Level Planning and Design.  NCHRP Report 765 turned out very well because of dedicated efforts by our team under the leadership of Rob Bostrom.  Rob needed to juggle the wants of a large review panel, eight or so co-authors and a number of onlookers.  The scope of the project was huge and the resources were not as ample as we thought going in.  There were some things that I would have done differently, given another chance and the Hawaii project presented that chance.

NCHRP Report 765 addressed a large and varied audience, so it made a lot of suggestions but mandated nothing.  The report is big and some important concepts are difficult to find and grasp.  It was perhaps too light on time-series techniques.  Finally, there was no easy way to reconcile the variety of writing styles of the many co-authors.

I vowed that the Hawaii report would be pithier and more assertive.  We ditched all elements of NCHRP Report 765 that were there because a tiny portion of its audience may have wanted it.  And we streamlined what remained.  We had constant communication with HDOT throughout to make sure it remained relevant.  HDOT wanted more content on time-series and a “pivot” method that somehow disappeared from NCHRP Report 765 before being published.  Panos and I maintained strong editorial control.

Both Panos and Goro were delightful to work with and I truly regret that this may be our first and last project together.  Panos and Goro constantly bickered like an old married couple, but the report is all the better for it.

So if you are looking for an excellent, accessible treatise on project-level travel forecasting, check out the Hawaii report.  I’ve put a link to it on the Project-Level page of the web site.

Alan Horowitz,  Whitefish Bay, January 4, 2017