Measuring Supply and Demand for Transportation-Efficient Development

Focus Area

Land Use


Environmental Process






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

Planners and developers need a user-friendly approach or tool to measure supply and demand for transportation-efficient development. Consumers may prefer more transportation-efficient development than currently exists. Knowing that would be beneficial to help modify developer offerings and persuade reluctant government officials to modify plans and land use regulations to facilitate such development. With better information, governments would be able to influence supply and demand by providing incentives for developers. Better market information could overcome political resistance to such development. Providing a user-friendly approach to measure market preferences creates an opportunity to improve traffic demand management, livability, transportation services, investment decisions, and reduce emissions and fuel consumption.


  1. Identify or develop approaches to validly measure the supply and demand for transportation-efficient development and the willingness to pay for it.
  2. Evaluate the approaches and document the justification for choosing a preferred approach. Preference would be given to a transferable, scientifically valid, user-friendly, cost-effective approach that would adequately and accurately measure the magnitude and characteristics of the demand and supply and consumer willingness to pay. If an approach consistent with those criteria could not be found or developed for a reasonable cost, the research could cease at that point.
  3. Determine the appropriate size of area to apply the approach (neighborhood, census tract, traffic analyis zone, etc.). Apply it in an appropriate number of areas with different incomes, housing prices, commuting times, ethnic characteristics, community amenities, (mixed-use and single use) demographics, and other factors to calibrate it and document its strengths and weaknesses while determining the influence of “self-selection” (Did consumers select their housing location based on development amenities being consistent with their preferences?).
  4. Compare measured preferences with chosen locations and existing community attributes to determine: Is there a willingness to pay for compact, transportation-efficient, mixed-use development? Was the “demand” met by the supply available? Did survey subjects “self-select” the community amenities and features they prefer by their existing housing and location decisions? If so, how much was the selection influenced by what was available?
  5. Document how to use the approach so planners, developers, and others can apply it in other locations. Developing a training module to promote transferability would be important.
  6. Briefly propose how land use planning, zoning, transportation planning, and developer decisions could be better aligned to reflect the findings.

Urgency and Payoff

Funding this research would provide information to combat institutional, governmental, and economic barriers to transportation-efficient development. Government, developer, and consumer decisions are incremental, but a market assessment approach could impact government and developer investments on a grand scale if it was transferable and used in many communities over a long time period.

Every year billions of dollars are invested by governments, developers, and consumers on infrastructure, community amenities and housing. If demand exceeds supply for transportation-efficient development, there are opportunities to improve health and environmental quality; reduce trip length, and reduce energy consumption, traffic congestion and emissions. Better data showing an undersupply of transportation-efficient development would make it easier to generate public and private support and implement institutional change.

Suggested By

Ben Orsbon, SDDOT

[email protected]