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Improved Data and Tools for Integrated Land Use-Transportation Planning in California

Overview of Project:

Effective land use-transportation planning requires the ability to estimate potential benefits and impacts of various choices, including those regarding “smart growth” and “sustainable communities” strategies (such as urban infill, mixed-use, transit-oriented development, complete streets, etc.). Up-to-date California-specific data on built environment-travel relationships allows decision-makers to consider the potential effects of transportation infrastructure and land use investment choices in a consistent and supportable way.

The primary goal of this project was to obtain and analyze available data on quantitative relationships between the built environment and travel in various parts of California, and to incorporate the results into software tools available for use in local and regional integrated land use-transportation scenario planning processes.

Potential uses of the results of this project are:

  • Conducting regional integrated Blueprint planning processes.
  • Complying with California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 (SB 375), required for all California metropolitan planning organizations.
  • Preparing local General and Specific Community Plans and other transportation system plans that incorporate smart growth/sustainable communities strategies.


  1. The processes and results of this effort are summarized in a Final Overview Report, with detail in seven technical Appendices(available below).
  2. This project incorporated results into two types of planning tools/models for use in California:
    1. Scenario/”sketch”-planning tools (both GIS and spreadsheet formats), which are used as educational tools during public meetings as a “first level” of scenario development and evaluation.
    2. As post-processors to travel demand forecasting models, which are commonly used to analyze and compare the effects of land use and transportation “scenarios” after they are developed.

A video that provides an overview of this project is available here. It includes: why the project was needed; its goals and objectives; data collection and analysis processes and results; products and their uses; and conclusion. Slides used in this presentation can be downloaded here.

Please Note: Refer to these Guidelines which describe the purposes, selection, and use of these tools in various parts of California.
All of the software products (sketch planning or travel model post-processing) are released under the open source Apache 2.0 license.

1. Final Report

Final Overview Report
Technical Appendicies:
Appendix A. Annotated Literature Review
Appendix B. Project Panels (Experts and Practitioners)
Appendix C. Data Collection Processes
Appendix D. Results of Analyses of Built Environment & Travel Data

Attachments to Appendix D:
 D1. The Sacramento Metropolitan Region
 D2. The San Diego Metropolitan Region
 D3. Small and Medium-size Metro Regions
 D4. Urban Rail Corridors in the S.F. Bay Area
Appendix E. Travel Model Post-Processor Demonstrations
Appendix F. GIS Planning Tools: Python modules & UPlan
Appendix G. VMT Estimation Spreadsheet Tool

2.a) Scenario/sketch-planning Tools

GIS Tools:

A. PYTHON module: Overview
The python module is a specific-purpose calculator that utilizes the “Ds Analysis Modules” findings (described in Appendix “D” of the Final Report) and enables their application in GIS tools. The python module is not a standalone product and is not intended to exist without the support of other “helper” tools that prepare the inputs to it, and record the outputs from it. These helper functions are the more complex component of the tool kit and must be created and tested with care. Please refer to the User Guide in Appendix F for more information.
The Python modules are available from: link

B. UPlan Implementation:
The UPlan implementation is a practical example of a complex helper function that prepares model outputs for analysis using the Python module. UPlan is a simple rule-based urban growth model written within the ESRI GIS platform using ArcObjects. A description of the methods and usage of this tool is presented in Appendix F.
UPlan is available from: link
The UPlan implementation is available from: link

• With questions or suggestions about this tool, you may contact: Nathaniel Roth at UC Davis ULTRANS: neroth@ucdavis.edu

VMT Spreadsheet Tool

The VMT spreadsheet tool provides a “sketch” level comparison of land use and transportation scenarios. In a regional context, the tool provides VMT estimates that can be useful in scenario planning and evaluation. It conducts an analysis of the land use and transportation relationships using 7 Ds: density, diversity, distance, design, destination, demographics, and development scale. It examines how a land use scenario differs from an established or modeled land use scenario, comparing the two on land use metrics such as the number and types of jobs and households, densities, and the mix of uses. The tool also compares the scenarios regarding travel behavior, and - depending on the scale of the project - can provide estimates of vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Please note that this level of use is not intended to replace the type of analysis better suited for more robust travel models or analysis tools.

The tool contains two parts: 1) The main component of is a spreadsheet, “Sketch7” built in Microsoft Excel (in which the calculations take place); and 2) a web-based GIS application, built in Microsoft Silverlight (for making land use changes, and feeding the spreadsheet the appropriate land use data).

• For a description of these tools and a User Guide, please refer to Appendix G..
• For information on configuring these tools to various regions, see the Instructions. Download Instructions.
• To download the spreadsheet tool, click here.
• To download the silverlight code, click here.
• With questions or suggestions about these tools, contact: Raef Porter at the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG): RPorter@sacog.org 916-340-6261

2.b) Travel model post-processor tools

A travel model post-processor calibration spreadsheet template tool is available for downloading below. It is designed to: 1) assist in testing an existing travel demand forecasting (TDF) model’s existing sensitivities to built environment-travel “D” variables (which are described in Attachment D), and 2) Help develop “Ds” calibration adjustments to the degree that the model does not already fully capture these effects. Please note that this tool was built to function with calibrated and validated travel demand forecasting models only.

  • For information on its use, please see these instructions. Please see Attachment E for descriptions of post-processors that were developed for eight MPOs in California.
  • To download the Ds post-processor calibration spreadsheet “template” tool, click here.
  • To download a pdf of the slides used during the June 26, 2012 training session, click here.
  • To download a recording of the training session, click here.
  • With questions or suggestions about this tool and its use, you may contact: Fehr & Peers - Richard Lee, r.lee@fehrandpeers.com 925-930-7100

The results of this project are being hosted by ULTRANS under the following agreement: click here

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