Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Ohio wants households to document travel


Diaries will help state allocate funds

The Associated Press

        TOLEDO — Where are you headed? That's what the state wants to know.

        An Ohio Depart ment of Transportation (ODOT) consultant plans to call randomly chosen households statewide asking people to keep diaries of all their trips during designated 24-hour periods.

        State officials plan to use the information to analyze where, why and how Ohioans travel.

        The Travel Behavior Survey will guide ODOT's decisions about improving the state's transportation system, said department spokesman Brian Cunningham.

        The survey, part of a five-year, $7.5 million transportation study ODOT began last year, is being conducted by NuStats Inc., an Austin, Texas-based research firm.

        ODOT has directed NuStats to find 15,000 households across Ohio to participate in the study.

        Participants will be asked to log every trip each household member makes, even if it's just a walk to the corner store or a bike ride to school, said Kimberly Smith-Hilsenbeck, NuStats communications manager.

        “We want to include any form of transportation people use, not just auto travel — although that's the way most people travel,” she told the Toledo Blade.

        People who agree to participate are led first through a telephone questionnaire about how and why they travel, Ms. Smith-Hilsenbeck said.

        The questionnaire will provide ODOT with background data such as the average number of cars per household, plus an analysis of the extent to which Ohioans “chain” trips, such as stopping at the store on the way home from work.

        ODOT tried a similar study four years ago by distributing questionnaire cards to motorists at roadblocks, said Joe Rutherford, another department spokesman.

        “We got huge, huge complaints that it was a Big Brother thing,” Mr. Rutherford said.

        Officials say they will not know who NuStats contacts for the latest survey, and all participants' identities will be kept confidential.

       



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- Ohio wants households to document travel