Data on patterns of travel and levels of demand are an essential input to sound policy decisions in the transport sector. The European Commission and Member States have perceived for some years that such data are not available publicly with adequate levels of quality, consistency and coverage. Cost-effective data collection is crucial, and new technologies are becoming available that might be exploited for this purpose.
TEST aimed to develop and evaluate innovative ways of using new technologies for collecting, analysing and disseminating travel survey data. The project focused on five areas:
- using hand-held computers during trips as a tool for near real time data collection;
- offering Internet-based forms for the completion of long distance travel surveys;
- using geographical information systems (GIS) to improve the accuracy of recording place names visited during trips;
- using artificial intelligence (AI) processes to correct erroneous data and impute missing data in travel diaries;
- building a web site interface to provide access to stored data.
The project demonstrated the feasibility of the targeted approaches through pilot implementation:
- The computerised portable travel diary gained user acceptance in field tests and provided results consistent with those from more conventional methods.
- The web-based travel diary was also successfully demonstrated in two countries.
- The GIS work showed that semi-automatic support for trip recording could be provided, although more accurate and comprehensive databases of place names are required to support this application.
- An AI-based system was developed for data correction that provides an audit trail for quality assurance.
- The web interface demonstrated the feasibility of supervised remote access to stored analyses of travel diary results. This technology has been adopted by the ongoing Belgian national travel survey.
The user acceptance and access to the first two applications are expected to expand greatly as the generic technologies improve and increase their market presence over the next few years.
The project has demonstrated that new communication and information technologies can be used effectively to improve the quality of travel data surveys. A reduction in costs is also anticipated as data collection and transfer becomes more automated. At a European level, this will support the development of the new European Transport Information System (ETIS) funded by the European Commission.
TEST focused on data relating to long distance trips. Such results form a crucial input to decisions on European transport policy for:
- infrastructure planning, such as the Trans-European Transport Network;
- monitoring the success of policies on Community cohesion (e.g. access to and from peripheral regions);
- monitoring the development of transport markets, e.g. quality of services and competitiveness of modes.