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Transportation Demand Management is a Movement for Improvement

Encouraging Efficient Travel for Better Communities

What is TDM?

Transportation Demand Management (TDM), by definition, is the use of strategies to inform and encourage travelers to maximize the efficiency of our transportation systems, leading to outcomes such as improved mobility, reduced congestion, and lower vehicle emissions.

For the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), TDM is further defined to include the outcome of improved safety for travelers and the community at large.

All of these outcomes — improved mobility, reduced congestion, lower vehicle emissions, and greater safety — warrant focus and effort. And that's exactly what SPC is doing: sharpening our focus on TDM strategies across the 10-county region we serve.

What are effective TDM strategies?

Most people think about the obvious when it comes to transportation options, such as public transit, carpooling and vanpooling options, bicycling, and pedestrian amenities. But true TDM efforts encompass these, plus additional strategies that have proven effective. That includes:

  • Access to the Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefit (pre-tax and/or subsidy)
  • Provision of public transportation and/or private shuttle services
  • Appropriate pricing of parking, tolls, transit, and other options
  • Assistance with trip planning and ridesharing
  • State and local TDM ordinances, commute trip reduction laws, or other similar regulations
  • Parking management
  • Use of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)/High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes
  • Promotion and support of telecommuting & hybrid work schedules
  • Targeted marketing & education to inform commuters about options and shift behavior
  • Investment and support of bicycle & pedestrian infrastructure

Ultimately, the goal is to provide options for residents and visitors to have travel modes other than single occupancy vehicles (SOVs).

It's also important to keep in mind that while transportation systems management and operations are an umbrella term for a set of strategies, it is helpful to focus on specific needs – aka, ‘the demands' – of the travelers themselves. The strongest strategies will be built around those demands, offering true solutions that are customized by region.

How can funding be attained for TDM initiatives?

TDM efforts are no small feat. People and organizations tasked with strategizing, planning, and implementing TDM solutions must also find resources for funding these projects. Luckily, there are several options for financial support.

The Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) program provides funding to state departments of transportation (DOTs), local governments, and transit agencies for projects and programs that meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act. These projects are evaluated for their ability to reduce mobile source emissions and regional congestion across transportation networks.

The Transportation Alternative (TA) Set-Aside program provides funds under the Surface Transportation Program (STP), specifically earmarked for community-based "non-traditional" projects. To qualify, these projects must strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, and environmental aspects of the region's intermodal transportation system. Examples of projects funded by the TA Set-Aside program include the creation of pedestrian and bicycle facilities, preservation of historic transportation structures, and trail development.

The Carbon Reduction Program (CRP) is one of many new initiatives created through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) also known as the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA). This program has already been providing historic levels of funding for our nation's transportation and infrastructure systems. The CRP aims to reduce transportation emissions through the development of state carbon reduction strategies, and by funding projects specifically designed to reduce transportation emissions.

What TDM efforts have we already initiated?

SPC has a TDM Action Plan in place with many efforts already in place. Here are just a few examples of completed and existing projects. You can see more details about these and view the full plan here.

  • CommuteInfo Vanpooling Program
  • City of Pittsburgh's Bike Lane Program
  • Regional Bike Trails, including the Panhandle Trail, Montour Trail, GAP Trail, and more
  • Pittsburgh Regional Transit's (PRT) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project
  • Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), or technology-based projects

While the efforts already in place are impressive, there is always more work that can be done. Join SPC, as together our TDM efforts move for improvement.

ABOUT THE CONTENT AUTHOR AND SPONSOR: Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) has been spearheading TDM initiatives for more than a decade. The goal is to provide travelers with information, options, and incentives that expand their travel choices and result in a safer and healthier environment and economy. Led by Anthony Hickton, SPC has a TDM Action Plan in place with many efforts already in motion.

headshot of Anthony Hickton from Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission sized at 200x200
About the Author
Anthony Hickton is the TDM Manager at Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission

August 31, 2023