Value of Travel Time Reliability in Transportation Decision Making: Proof of Concept—Maryland



Federal Highway Administration


Center for Advanced Transportation Technology University of Maryland

National Center for Strategic Transportation Policies, Investments and Decisions University of Maryland


The topic of travel time reliability has been a significant focus in the transportation systems management and operations (TSM&O) community during recent years. With the end of the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) Reliability research program in sight, agencies are working to figure out how to incorporate travel time reliability–related performance measures, analytical processes, and tools into their planning and programming processes. Travel time reliability describes the quality, consistency, timeliness, predictability, and dependability of travel. What is occurring today is a fundamental shift from a past policy focus on average travel time to one that now focuses on variability of travel time. The specific problem that this research project addresses is to identify how an agency can include a value of travel time reliability (VTTR) in a benefit–cost analysis (BCA) when making congestion reduction–related project investment decisions. This project builds on the experiences of the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) and their ongoing efforts to include reliability in their planning and programming processes. In recent years, SHA has adopted a reliability performance measure and has included a VTTR in their BCA process when selecting congestion relief projects for implementation. The stated project objectives for this project were as follows:

Select and defend a value or range of values for travel time reliability for the Maryland State Highway Network.

Use the VTTR in the Maryland SHA project development process to prioritize operational and capital improvements and determine if (and how) the ranking of projects changes due to the addition of VTTR.

Report for the benefit of others the step-by-step process used to develop, justify, apply, and assess the use of VTTR in the Maryland SHA project evaluation and decision process.

This research project is presented in two parts. Part 1: Background and Application of the Method provides the results of the project in four chapters: (1) Background, (2) Research Approach, (3) Findings and Applications, and (4) Conclusions and Suggested Research. Part 2: Description of the Method provides an in-depth treatment of the development and application of a travel-time data-driven methodology for estimating value of reliability, including the methodology’s assumptions, example application and calculations, and how it attempts to improve on a previous application of Real Options theory.

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Report: Value of Travel Time Reliability in Transportation Decision Making: Proof of Concept—Maryland