STOPS – FTA’s Simplified Trips-on-Project Software
At their option, sponsors of New Starts and Small Starts projects may use a simplified method developed by FTA to quantify the measures used by FTA to evaluate and rate projects. STOPS is a limited implementation of the conventional “4-step” travel model. STOPS replaces the standard “trip generation” and “trip distribution” steps with the Census Transportation Planning Package (CTPP) – tabulations from the 2000 Census (and soon, the American Community Survey) to describe overall travel markets. It also replaces the traditional “coded” transit network with standard transit-services data in the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format. More detail is available in an overview of STOPS and its component procedures.
Project sponsors who choose to apply STOPS will need to:
- Get STOPS documentation and software;
- Get the appropriate data from the Census;
- Obtain supporting information from the regional travel model; and
- Obtain current GTFS data for their individual metro areas.
Data for STOPS calibration and validation included detailed rider surveys from six metro areas and station-level count data from nine other metro areas. Together, these 15 metro areas have 24 fixed-guideway systems (six commuter rail, one heavy rail, 13 light rail, two bus rapid transit, and two streetcar).
STOPS produces all reporting needed by project sponsors to review its ridership forecasts in detail and to support grant applications to the FTA New Starts and Small Starts programs.
FTA anticipates that the local installation of STOPS and assembly of the required input information will require one to two weeks of effort by a capable travel-forecasting professional. FTA anticipates that preparation of project forecasts will require one additional week for straightforward projects and two to three additional weeks for complex projects.
FTA provides technical assistance to project sponsors using STOPS to prepare project forecasts. After you have read the User Guide, installed the software, and made progress towards producing forecasts for your project, you can contact Pete Mazurek (firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-366-1627) with questions or with a request for help from an FTA-provided contractor.
FTA has sponsored tests of the STOPS software and travel models in six applications across the country over the last three months. These tests have led to updates of the software and the user guide for clarity and ease of application. This initial release of STOPS reflects the insights gained through that testing program. Nevertheless, STOPS remains both a new software package and a new approach to travel forecasting for major transit projects. Further updates are inevitable as it is applied by new users in new settings. FTA will provide timely technical assistance to those efforts and, where appropriate, release software updates that respond to problems encountered in these initial applications. Project sponsors should be mindful of these realities as they undertake STOPS applications.