Forecasting Urban Travel

Forecasting Urban Travel

Past, Present and Future

David E. Boyce and Huw C.W.L. Williams

Forecasting Urban Travel presents in a non-mathematical way the evolution of methods, models and theories underpinning travel forecasts and policy analysis, from the early urban transportation studies of the 1950s to current applications throughout the urbanized world. From original documents, correspondence and interviews, especially from the United States and the United Kingdom, the authors seek to capture the spirit and problems faced in different eras, as changing information requirements, computing technology and planning objectives conditioned the nature of forecasts.

Chapter 2: Emergence of the traditional approach

David E. Boyce and Huw C.W.L. Williams

Subjects: economics and finance, transport, environment, environmental sociology, urban and regional studies, transport, urban studies


To understand the emergence of urban transportation planning in the US, try to imagine the situation in large urban areas such as Chicago in the early 1950s, a prosperous period following the Second World War. Their populations had increased substantially through in-migration from rural areas, especially from the south, as well as from abroad. Moreover, within metropolitan areas, out-migration to the suburbs was increasing. In response to increased use of cars, and trucks for deliveries and goods movement, expressway plans proposed for the Chicago area in the 1930s were being implemented. For example, a six-lane, 13-mile expressway connecting north-west Chicago to its northern suburbs opened to traffic in 1951. Four radial expressways centred on Chicago’s central area were planned, but construction funding was not available. A circumferential tollway with radial extensions into the outer suburbs was being planned. In contrast, following the peak ridership achieved in 1946, bus, streetcar and subway-elevated ridership had steadily declined. Similar conditions were found in Detroit, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

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