Montana Department of Transportation

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Research Toolkit

Montana Transportation and Land Use

Multimodal Analysis

Traffic Analysis Tools - Multimodal Analysis

Multimodal Analysis

What is multimodal analysis?

Adding alternatives to single-occupant vehicle modes is a way to reduce highway travel demand and preserve roadway capacity. Multimodal systems are particularly effective in areas with high levels of tourism or recreation. For example, developing National Park shuttle systems and bicycle, pedestrian or transit access to trailheads can help relieve roadway capacity constraints.

Multimodal analysis tools are used to assess and evaluate the performance of transit, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities in a given community or region. These tools can range from a question-and-answer checklist to detailed multimodal performance measures.

Multimodal level of service standards can be used to indicate problems and ways to improve each mode. Establishing transit, bicycle, or pedestrian level of service analysis methods and requirements allows for a systematic identification of impacts or benefits to alternative modes of transportation. Level of service criteria and target performance measures can be qualitative and quantitative, including measures of accessibility, connectivity, safety, and security.

Who implements multimodal analysis tools?

Local nonmotorized transportation plans are usually adopted as part of the community's comprehensive plan (growth policies). Local plans often have boundaries that extend well beyond the urban area to provide connections with recreational areas and other destinations outside the communities.

Multimodal levels of service criteria and analysis methods have been documented for transit, bicycle, and pedestrian modes in urban areas. Level of service standards can be included in the long-range planning process in MPO areas and small urban areas or in city and county pedestrian and bicycle plans.

MDT has established a state bicycle and pedestrian coordinator who is responsible for addressing nonmotorized transportation considerations. MDT has also developed a process to ensure that bicycle and pedestrian concerns are consistently addressed early in the project development process.

What are the keys to success and potential pitfalls?

Well-Supported Technical Standards: The acceptance and enforcement of plans and policies resulting from multimodal analysis tools is important to their effectiveness. The measures of effectiveness and accepted standards for multimodal transportation are not as well established as auto modes. Community involvement and support for multimodal performance measures is essential to development of effective multimodal analysis tools.

Where has this strategy been applied?

Examples in Montana

  • Bozeman Bicycle Network Plan: Bozeman has developed a Bicycle Level of Service calculation to identify bicycle infrastructure needs. The plan includes a priority ranking system for sections of road that would benefit from bicycle facilities.

Examples outside of Montana

  • Real Accessibility Index, Charlottesville VA: The Real Accessibility Index is a tool designed to score access to services by determining the extent and condition of transportation infrastructure. Target areas receive points based on the availability of various modes of travel and connections made between services and residential areas. The more options that are available to an area, the higher its score will be. Scores reflect connectivity, continuity, ease of use, safety, integration of modes, and pleasantness of travel.

Case studies

How can I get started?

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center provides on-line case studies and training for integrating multimodal features into policies, plans, and individual projects, as well as potential avenues for innovative funding. At a more qualitative level, some agencies employ essentially a question-and-answer or checklist process to assure that transit and multimodal options are explored to some extent.

Where can I get more information?