1. Introduction

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Objectives of the Mobility Monitoring Program

The Mobility Monitoring Program is an effort by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to track and report traffic congestion and travel reliability on a national scale. The program has two primary objectives:

  1. Monitor traffic congestion levels and travel reliability trends using archived traffic detector data; and
  2. Provide “proof of concept” and technical assistance to encourage local/regional performance monitoring programs.

The Program uses archived traffic detector data that were originally collected for traffic operations purposes. Thus, the extent of the Program is limited to those cities and roadways where real-time traffic data are collected and archived. The Program started in 2001 (with an analysis of 2000 data) in 10 cities. In 2004, the Program has grown to include nearly 30 cities with about 3,000 miles of freeway. The Texas Transportation Institute and Cambridge Systematics, Inc. support the Mobility Monitoring Program activities.

Report Overview

This annual summary report provides the traffic congestion and reliability levels and trends from 2003, the most recent year of available data. The 2003 data were gathered from 29 cities in the United States. Congestion and reliability trends from three years (2001-2003) are available in 20 of these cities, and four years of trends (2000-2003) are available in 10 of these cities.

This report is organized as follows:

  1. Introduction — brief overview of the Mobility Monitoring Program and the annual summary report;
  2. Background — supplemental information on the Mobility Monitoring Program and other national/State performance monitoring programs;>
  3. Data, Analysis Methods, and Performance Measures — documentation of the data source, analysis methods, and resulting performance measures;
  4. Major Findings and Conclusions — findings and conclusions based on analyses of 2000-2003 traffic congestion and reliability data; and
  5. Recommendations — recommendations for improving the process and Program results.

New Report Elements

Readers who are familiar with the Mobility Monitoring Program and its previous reports will recognize that many elements of our analysis and this report are similar to previous annual editions. There are, however, several new elements or changes that are noted:

  • Greater emphasis on multi-year trends — Now that we have accumulated a minimum of three years of data for at least 20 cities, we have placed a greater emphasis in this report on traffic congestion and reliability trends from 2000 through 2003.
  • Less emphasis on city-specific information — Because of differences in data collection, coverage, and quality for each city, past reports have warned against comparing traffic congestion or reliability levels between cities. In keeping with this principle, we have provided less city-specific information and more national composite statistics.
  • More cities — This annual report for 2003 data includes 29 cities; the annual report for 2002 data (FHWA-OP-04-011) included 23 cities, whereas the annual report for 2001 data (FHWA-OP-03-141) included 21 cities. The total freeway mileage included in these 29 cities for 2003 totals nearly 3,000 miles.
  • Format and layout changes to city reports — The Mobility Monitoring Program produces city-specific reports (separate from this annual summary report) that are intended to provide useful information for State and local agencies. The content of these city reports has been streamlined to provide only the most relevant information. This includes a summary page, various charts that show day-of-week and time-of-day patterns, tables that show traffic congestion and reliability by freeway section, and information on data sources and data quality.

Additional Information and City Reports

More information on the Mobility Monitoring Program can be found at http://mobility.tamu.edu/mmp/. The Program has produced annual summary reports as well as city-specific reports since 2001, and the most recent reports are available at this website. In October 2004, the Program began producing monthly reports to provide more timely information to FHWA. These monthly reports are available on request.

City reports are intended to provide useful information for State and local agencies, and as such, are considered a benefit for agencies providing archived data. These city reports are separate from this annual summary report but can be downloaded from the Mobility Monitoring Program website at http://mobility.tamu.edu/mmp/.