Data driven: County Vehicle Occupancy survey reveals travel insights

JACKSON, Wyo. — A vehicle occupancy survey conducted during late-February signaled a need for a dedicated bus/carpool lane on Highway 22 and 390, according to researchers.

The three-day vehicle occupancy survey was conducted on Highway 22 and Highway 390 corridors on February 26, 27 and 29 in conjunction with the implementation of the Teton County Integrated Transportation Plan (ITP).

Over 38 volunteers and staff from Teton County and the Town of Jackson braved cold weather to count cars and trucks and SUVs. Volunteers also counted the number of occupants in vehicles during peak morning and afternoon commute periods. The survey data will be used to help inform future transportation planning for possible bus rapid transit and carpool options identified as alternatives in the adopted 2015 Integrated Transportation Plan.

Jared Smith, a Wilson resident and transportation engineer who helped coordinate the occupancy survey, summarized the survey results, “From what we observed, there is significant benefit in adding bus and carpool lanes on Highway 22, which can absorb cars and buses with a higher level of occupants. We noted two to four times more people traveling in carpools or on the bus, meaning people already have good behaviors. If we incentivize that behavior further with a carpool/transit lane, we can reduce traffic congestion, and also reduce our emissions footprint.”

Jim Charlier, the lead consultant for the ITP, was a key next step toward implementing bus rapid transit and carpool concepts that could help achieve the ITP goal of reducing vehicle miles traveled while increasing the people-moving capacity in this congested corridor.

“Data-driven solutions are critical to making effective decisions that will shape the future of our transportation network,” said Jack Koehler, program director at Friends of Pathways. “We were happy to work with the 38 volunteers and staff who collected this essential data regarding vehicle occupancy.”

Initial data indicated that in addition to the 98 START transit bus runs each winter day, 27% to 34% of vehicles in the corridor have two or more occupants during weekday peak periods. On weekends, 44% to 55% of vehicles have two or more occupants. During peak periods, transit coaches are carrying up to 40% of the people traveling in the corridor in the peak direction.

These high occupancy numbers indicate that giving more priority and incentives to transit and carpools with dedicated bus/carpool lanes in the Highway 22 corridor could further increase the use of alternatives to single-occupant vehicles, which would help realize the goals adopted in the ITP.

“I applaud the grassroots and volunteer work done recently to collect vehicle occupancy data,” said Amy Ramage, Teton County engineer. “Transportation solutions will take work and collaboration from the Town, County, WYDOT, START public agencies and individuals. This data will be instrumental in taking steps for a regional, cohesive transportation plan.”

The Teton Transportation Coalition helped organize the volunteer effort.

You May Also Like
Rules of the road: are you paying attention?
What is the ‘zipper merge,’ and why you should be doing it
Fire and EMS respond to accident involving multiple vehicles, Scott Lane blocked off
Top Stories
Three-car pileup stalls traffic on Highway 22 this morning
WYDOT work around the town square will disrupt traffic flow
Accident on Highway 22 has traffic backed up this am