Search the USF Web site Site Map USF home page


Center Identification Number:  77920 

Project Title: An Assessment of Public Transportation Markets Using NHTS Data

Principal Investigators:

Xuehao Chu, Senior Research Associate
Phone: 813-974-9831

Steve Polzin, Director, Mobility Research Program
Phone: 813-974-9849

Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
Fax: 813-974-5168

External Project Contact:     

Daniel Harris
Transit Project Manager
(850) 414-4532

Start and End Dates

Start Date:  November 2009               Expected End Date: December 2010

I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

Since 1969 the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) series has been the only authoritative source of the nation’s inventory of household travel including means of transportation and a host of other trip-making characteristics. The latest NHTS provides a unique opportunity for gaining insights into public transportation in Florida and the nation. It covers April 2008 through May 2009, a period during which the societal environment changed significantly for both providers and users of public transportation. More importantly, it contains significantly more data than previous surveys and allows richer and statistically more meaningful analyses of travel by public transportation. Specifically, it has a large sample size of 155,000 households for the entire nation with 15,000 households for Florida. In addition to the larger samples, it has data on a large number of characteristics that are not available in previous surveys in the NHTS series:

  1. Length of residence
  2. Role of being close to transit in residence location
  3. Weekly bicycling and walking activities to or from public transit
  4.  Flexibility of work schedules
  5. Attitudes toward bicycle and walk facilities and environments
  6. Attitudes toward public transit services
  7. Usual modal usage for school travel – Dial-a-ride as a separate mode
  8. Identification of park-n-ride and kiss-n-ride as access modes
  9. Identification of specific mobility devices such as cane, walker, wheelchair, etc.

II.  Objectives/Tasks

The objective is to paint a comprehensive picture of public transportation in the United States for the dynamic period from April 2008 to May 2009. Information provided in this comprehensive picture can benefit FDOT, other transportation agencies, and the general public in Florida and across the nation in their planning and debating efforts on public transportation policies. The following tasks have been designed to accomplish this objective:

Task 1. Project Management

This task will cover project management at CUTR including producing required progress reports and carrying out deliverable reviews before submittal to FDOT.

Task 2. Content Determination

This task will determine the content of the final report. The contents of CUTR’s previous reports based on the NHTS series data will be the starting point. Our experience with our previous reports indicates that their content covers the key data needs for a wide range of transportation agencies. In addition, this task will conduct several reviews. It will review the most current research and literature regarding the use of the NHTS series data and travel by public transportation in the United States. The review of travel by public transportation will seek to integrate the existing work on public transit and on other modes of public transportation. Previous CUTR reports on NHTS focused on traditional fixed-route transit modes, but the 2008 NHTS dataset may contain data on other public transportation modes, including carpool, vanpool, and dial-a-ride. In addition, it will review current policy issues facing the U.S. public transportation industry. It will also review the data content of the 2008 NHTS. The results of these reviews will be combined to determine the report content. It is important to point out that although it is planned to include carpool, vanpool, and dial-a-ride modes at this point based on our current knowledge of the 2008 NHTS, whether they will actually be included in the final report will depend on the amount and quality of the data on these modes.

Task 3. Data Analysis

This task will perform data analysis according to the report content determined from Task 2. It will assemble the full 2008 NHTS dataset as soon as possible. While the FHWA plans a public release of the full dataset in early 2010, we have had a close working relationship with the NHTS team at the FHWA and have received a beta-version of the full dataset in October 2009. Just like its predecessors, the 2008 NHTS will have data from a national sample and data from many add-on samples for various metropolitan areas and states, including Florida. The full dataset includes both the national sample and all add-on samples. Once the data are in hand, this task will learn about the specifics of the 2008 NHTS dataset, including how sampling was done, supplemental data items on land use characteristics and other features, and the coding of individual variables, including missing and invalid cases. It is possible that the first release of the 2008 NHTS dataset may contain only some of the supplemental data items and more may come in later stages. While we do not know exactly when supplemental data items become available, we do not plan to wait for the full supplemental data because the initial dataset will have more than enough data content for this analysis. As a result, additional data analysis may be conducted later during the project duration if the later supplemental data items are found to be relevant. While the initial report content from Task 2 would form the starting point for data analysis, it is likely the initial report content would be revised as data analysis moves along. Following the the previous studies, much of the data analysis would use cross tabulations. We anticipate that the report would include both comparative data between Florida and the national totals and trend data comparing the 2008 results with findings from prior NHTS.

Task 4. Final Report

This task will develop the project final report, including documenting the data analysis, developing a draft report, and revising the draft report. Outlining of the final report would start with the task on content determination, while drafting of the final report would start with data analysis. The draft final report would be reviewed internally within CUTR before it is submitted to FDOT for its review. FDOT’s comments on the submitted draft final report would be the basis for developing the final report. As there is a strong national interest in the results of this analysis, we anticipate outside reviews of the draft report. Following our previous practice, the anticipated outside reviews would be conducted individually rather than as a formal panel. At a minimum, we anticipate asking one representative of the NHTS team of the FHWA and a technical staff person of the American Public Transportation Association. In terms of timing, these outside reviews would likely to be done concurrent with the FDOT review once a draft final is completed.

Work not included in this scope of service is not to be performed and will not be subject to compensation by the Department.

III. Deliverables

Progress Reports – The Principal Investigator will submit quarterly progress reports to the Research Center. The first report will cover the activity that occurred in the 90 days following the issuance of the Task Work Order.

Reports should be submitted within 30 days of the end of the reporting period. Reports are due even if little or no progress has occurred (in which case, the report should explain delays and/or lack of progress). Progress reports should be sent in MS Word to Sandra Bell, .

Progress reports must include the following information:

1. Contract Number, Task Work Order Number, and Title 2. Work performed during the period being reported 3. Work to be performed in the following period 4. Anticipated modifications (i.e., to funding, schedule, or scope). This section is for reporting/informational purposes, not for officially requesting an amendment. Note: To request an amendment to a contract, the contractor must provide the project manager with the appropriate information (i.e., what is being requested with justification) in the required format. If the project manager concurs with the request, he/she shall forward it with his/her approval and commentary, as appropriate, to the Research Center for administrative review and processing (pending available funds, etc.) 5. A Progress Schedule (figures A, B, and C) updated to reflect activities for the period being reported.

Failure to submit progress reports in a timely manner may result in termination of the work order.

Draft Final Reports – The Draft Final Report is due 90 days prior to the end date of the task work order. The draft final report will be submitted to Sandra Bell, It should be edited for technical accuracy, grammar, clarity, organization, and format prior to submission to the Department for technical approval. The Research Center expects contractors to be able to provide well-written, high-quality reports that address the objectives defined by the scope of service. Draft final reports must be prepared in accordance with the “Guidelines for Preparing Draft Final and Final Reports” posted at This document provides information on all report requirements, including format, the technical report documentation form, disclaimer language, and so forth.

Final Reports – Once the draft final report has been approved, the university shall prepare the final report. The university will deliver a minimum eight (8) copies of the final report in MS Word on CD or DVD. The CD/DVDs should be labeled in a professional manner and include at a minimum the contract number, task work order number, project title and date.

The final report is due no later than the end date of the task work order and should be delivered to the follow address:

The Florida Department of Transportation Research Center, MS 30 605 Suwannee Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450

I.                        IV.  Project Kick-Off Meeting

                A kick-off meeting shall be scheduled to occur within the first 30 days of execution by the university. The preferred method for the kick-off meeting is via teleconference or video conference. As a minimum, the project manager and the principal investigator will attend. The Research Center staff must be advised of the meeting and given the option to attend. Other parties may be invited as appropriate. The subject of the meeting will be to review and discuss the project’s tasks, schedule, milestones, deliverables, reporting requirements, and deployment plan. A summary of the kick-off meeting shall be included in the first progress report.


          IV.  Project Schedule

It is anticipated that the project will be completed within 18 months of the issuance of the TWO from the Department. Given that the Department will likely begin updating the Transit Strategic Plan in early 2011, the research team will work with the Department to make key results about public transportation in Florida available to the Department by December 2010. The research team will work with the Department to identify its information needs for this particular purpose.

V.  Project Budget

Fixed Price Subtotal                                            89,908.57

Indirect Cost (fixed price subtotal x 10%)          8,990.86

Total Fixed Price Amount                                    98,899.42

VI. Use of Graduate Student(s) and Other Research Assistants

Dr. Xuehao Chu will be the principle investigator for the project. Dr. Chu will direct and participate in all tasks of the research effort and take responsibility for the deliverables. CUTR faculty will include Steve Polzin, who is expert in travel behavior and industry issues on public transit. If needed, CUTR faculty from its TDM Program may be consulted in relation to policy issues on public transportation modes, including carpool, vanpool, and dial-a-ride. Use of an engineering graduate student will be critical to this project. The student will support the reviews for content determination, data analysis, and documentation of the research. Using a statistical software package called SUDAAN, the student will also support project attempts to estimate the reliability of critical data items presented in the final report.

VII. Equipment

No need for non-standard equipment is expected for conducting the proposed research.

VIII. Travel

No travel is planned.

National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · · Comments: