Federal Actions for Efficient Transportation


TDM Encyclopedia

Victoria Transport Policy Institute


Updated 6 September 2019

This chapter identifies TDM policies and programs suitable for implementation by federal governments.



Federal governments significantly influence transportation and land use decisions in many ways. They finance and plan major transportation facilities and services, and establish long-term, strategic transportation plans and policies.


Federal governments are responsible for interregional transportation and for non-transportation planning objectives such as public health, economic development and environmental quality. Federal governments can create Sustainable Transportation plans and policies. When viewed from this broad perspective, TDM programs often turn out to be more cost effective and beneficial than alternative solutions to transportation problems.


Federal policies can have large leverage effects. For example, a few million dollars in federal funding can influence tens of millions of dollars in state and regional funding, which influences hundreds of millions of dollars in land use development and consumer expenditures. If federal policies favor highway improvements they can stimulate automobile-oriented transport systems and sprawled land use patterns, but federal funding for alternative modes can create more multi-modal transport systems and more compact land use development patterns.


Federal governments can support TDM implementation in the following ways:








Best TDM Strategies

The following strategies are particularly suitable for implementation by federal governments. For more detailed information see the TDM Summary Table.


Aviation Transport Management

Various management strategies can increase air transport efficiency, including strategies that encourage use of alternative modes, reduce total air traffic, increase air travel system efficiencies, and reduce specific aviation external costs such as air and noise pollution.


Market Reforms

Transportation price and market reforms can encourage more efficient transportation and support TDM objectives.


Comprehensive Transport Planning

Various planning reforms can result in more comprehensive and accurate transportation decision-making. Current planning results in omissions and distortions that tend to overvalue automobile-oriented improvements and undervalue alternative solutions to transportation problems. More comprehensive planning is particularly important when evaluating TDM and alternative modes.


Freight Transportation Management

Freight Transport Management increases freight transportation efficiency by shifting improving the quality of efficient freight modes (such as rail and integrated distribution services), providing incentives to use the most efficient option for each type of delivery, increasing load factors, improving logistics, and reducing unnecessary shipping distances and volumes.


Fuel Tax Increases

Fuel taxes can be raised to increase roadway user fees and cost recovery, reduce vehicle travel, conserve energy and reduce pollution emissions. Carbon Taxes are taxes based on fossil fuel carbon content, and therefore a tax on carbon dioxide emissions.


Funding Options

There are various ways to fund transport programs, some of which support TDM objectives by charging directly for vehicle use.


Least-Cost Planning

Least Cost Planning refers to planning and investment reforms that support demand management implementation when overall cost effective. This tends to support TDM policies and programs.


Road Pricing

Road pricing means that motorists pay directly for driving on a particular roadway or in a particular area. “Congestion pricing” (also called “value pricing”) refers to variable tolls, with higher prices under congested conditions and lower prices under less congested conditions, intended to reduce peak-period traffic volumes to optimal levels.


Smart Growth

Smart Growth involves various local and regional land use planning practices that create more accessible, multi-modal, efficient and livable communities. This tends to reduce driving and increase use of alternative modes. Federal policies can incorporate Smart Growth Reforms that help create more accessible land use patterns.


Transit Improvements

There are many ways to improve public transit service quality, including increased service speed, frequency, convenience, comfort, user information, affordability and ease of access.


Win-Win Transportation Solutions

Win-Win Transportation Solutions are various TDM strategies that provide a combination of economic, social and environmental benefits.



Examples and Case Studies


Commuting and Business Travel (www.fhio.gc.ca/commuting/commuting.htm)

The Canadian Federal House In Order (FHIO) website provides information on several successful Commute Trip Reduction programs, as summarized in the table below. Each description includes information on the program’s tools, background, target audience, program description, main components, communications, resources required, results, lessons learned, resources and transferability.


Table 4                        Canadian Commute Trip Reduction Programs


Public Transit




Business Travel


Walk & Roll (Go For Green)






AT&T Telework






Cambie Corridor






Commuter Challenge






GVRD Employee Trip Reduction






Episodic Clean Air Days






Go Green Choices (BEST)






Smart Program














European Planning Innovations (FHWA, 2006)

A comprehensive study of European TDM programs found that European planners tend to use more comprehensive strategies to influence travelers before they get into their cars (promoting nonmotorized modes and alternative destinations of travel) and provide improved options for drivers who choose to use the road system (faster routes and more reliable travel times).


A variety of management systems are used to manage travel demand and traffic. Pretrip traveler information systems are clearly designed to encourage more efficient travel by suggesting routes and times of the day that are less congested and offer more reliable travel times. Pretrip information can also influence the mode selected (e.g., public transport or carpooling) or even the destination of travel (whether to work from home or shop closer to home). In addition, near-trip and even on-trip (en route) information can influence time, route, mode, and destination choice. For example, commuters can be provided with real-time information on travel times to their work location if they continue to drive or shift to a nearby park-and-ride service. Road pricing can clearly affect mode, time, and route choice, and even influence lane choice, as is the case with high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in the United States. Pricing can also include incentives for changing modes or time of travel.


In the center of the management systems is the transportation management center (TMC), which both manages facilities and provides information to travelers. Traditional transportation demand management (TDM), such as rideshare matching, promotion of alternative modes, and vanpool provision, typically works at the other end of the framework to influence mode and destination choice based on the need to travel, but it can also be an integral part of the information systems linked to the TMC. This comprehensive approach provides a new way of looking at the need for and management of transport and traffic demand.


These programs are designed not just to reduce traffic congestion, they are intended to create more livable, sustainable cities by creating and implementing integrated packages of transportation measures that combined improved alternatives to driving a car; real-time information on traffic conditions; options providing pretrip, near-trip, and on-trip route information; new partnerships to support these enhanced travel choices; and even pricing to reduce the number of cars entering the city centers or on the entire network during congestion periods. Planners are doing so by integrating demand management into both their long-range transportation plans and shorter range operating policies. They are carefully monitoring the performance of the system by looking not only at mobility but also at measures such as accessibility, air quality, and livability.



Swiss Heavy Vehicle Fee (www.zoll.admin.ch

Switzerland introduced a Heavy Vehicle Fee (HVF) in January 2001, as a result of a successful public referendum passed in 1998. The HVF charges heavy trucks (over 3.5 tonnes) based on their gross weight, kilometres driven and emissions. The system was carefully planned and has been widely accepted by the freight industry. Billing for most trucks is based on data collected by an electronic on-board data collection unit that records vehicle mileage and route. At the end of each month the data are transmitted to the Swiss Customs Agency either by mail or over the Internet. This information is used to generate a bill that is sent to the owner.


Total truck volumes actually increased on many cross-Alpine routes when the HVF was implemented because maximum vehicle weights were increased from 28 tonnes to 34-tonnes at the same time. Environmental groups are lobbying to increase HVF rates and improve rail service, as demand management strategies to reduce total truck traffic.



Innovative Strategies To Increase Ridership Website (http://ftawebprod.fta.dot.gov/bpir)

The U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has developed an interactive website/database that includes dozens of examples of successful innovative programs that have increased ridership. These include improvements in service, fare collection, marketing, vehicles, coordination with other organizations, intermodal activities, operator training, and security. Detailed descriptions are provided for each program, including the type of program, size of service area, and impact on ridership.



References And Resources For More Information


ACT (2004), The Role Of Demand-Side Strategies: Mitigating Traffic Congestion, Association for Commuter Transportation, for the Federal Highway Administration (http://tmi.cob.fsu.edu/act/FHWA_Cong_Mitigation_11%202%2004.pdf).


Edward Beimborn and Robert Puentes (2003), Highways and Transit: Leveling the Playing Field in Federal Transportation Policy, Brookings Institute (www.brookings.edu).


Best Practices & Local Leadership Programme (www.bestpractices.org)
United Nations Human Settlements Programme(UN-HABITAT)

Best Workplaces for Commuters (www.bwc.gov) is a program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation to recognize employers that provide outstanding commuter benefits. The website has a variety of resources concerning various Commute Trip Reduction strategies, including the TDM Case Studies Spreadsheet (www.cities21.org/epaModeShiftCaseStudies.xls)


Sally Cairns (2004), et al, Smarter Choices - Changing the Way We Travel, UK Department for Transport (www.dft.gov.uk).


CALTRANS (2004), California Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Searchable Database, California Department of Transportation (http://transitorienteddevelopment.dot.ca.gov).


CCAP (2005), Transportation Emissions Guidebook: Land Use, Transit & Travel Demand Management, Center for Clean Air Policy (www.ccap.org/trans.htm). This guidebook helps users assess the air pollution, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions benefits of a variety of transportation and land use policies. Includes policy overviews, success stories and links to key models and resources.


Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development (www.sustainable.doe.gov/transprt/trsstoc.shtml), U.S. Department of Energy site provides information and services on how communities can adopt sustainable development, including several sustainable transportation success stories.


Centre for Sustainable Community  Development: Case Studies (www.fcm.ca/scep/index.htm), Federation of Canadian Municipalities (www.fcm.ca). 


Clean Air Initiative (www.worldbank.org/cleanair) and the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (www.worldbank.org/wbi/cleanair/caiasia ) provide information on innovative programs that improve air quality in developing countries.


COST, Best Practice For Sustainable Urban Infrastructures, COST Program (www.cf.ac.uk/archi/research/cost8).


Alan Durning and Yoram Bauman (1998), Tax Shift, Northwest Environment Watch (www.northwestwatch.org).


ECMT (2000), Efficient Transport Taxes and Charges, European Conference of Ministers of Transport, OECD (www.sourceoecd.org).


EEA (2004), Transport Price Signals: Monitoring Changes in European Transport Prices and Charging Policy in the Framework of TERM, Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM), European Environment Agency; Technical Report No 3/2004



ELTIS Case Study Database (www.eltis.org/en/indexcse.htm)
European Local Transport Information Service.

EPI (2002), Selected Examples of Explicit Environmental Tax Reform Packages, Earth Policy Institute (www.earth-policy.org/Updates/Update14_data.htm).


European Transport Pricing Initiatives (www.transport-pricing.ne) includes various efforts to develop more fair and efficient pricing. Specific European transportation pricing projects are described below:


AFFORD (www.vatt.fi/afford) is an evaluation of optimal transportation pricing policies.


CAPRI (www.its.leeds.ac.uk/projects/capri) is disseminating research on transportation pricing.


CORDIS Project - Transport (www.cordis.lu/cost-transport/src/cost-342.htm) is a major European study of best practice in pricing and land use management policies to improve mobility and address energy and emission problems.


CUPID (Co-ordinating Urban Pricing Integrated Demonstrations), European Transport Pricing Initiative, Project No. GRD1-1999-10958, European Commission, Competitive and Sustainable Growth Programme (www.transport-pricing.net/reports22.html), November, 2001. 


ExternE (http://externe.jrc.es) involves research into external costs of transport.


IMPRINT (www.imprint-eu.org) is an effort to promote implementation of fair and efficient transport pricing.


PETS (www.cordis.lu/transport/src/pets.htm) assesses current pricing of transport modes in European Union member countries.


TRACE (www.hcg.nl/projects/trace/trace1.htm) provides costs of private road travel and their effects on demand, including short and long term elasticities. Sponsored by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Transport.


SPRUCTRUM (www.its.leeds.ac.uk/projects/spectrum) (Study of Policies regarding Economic instruments Complementing Transport Regulation and the Undertaking of physical Measures) is a research program to develop a framework for evaluating economic instruments, regulatory and physical measures to help achieve transport efficiency and equity objectives.


TRENEN (www.cordis.lu/transport/src/trenen.htm) is an effort to develop models for transport, environment and energy.


UNITE (www.its.leeds.ac.uk/projects/unite) involves transport cost accounting.



European Program for Mobility Management Examples (www.epommweb.org/examples/examples.html) describes various European transportation demand management programs.


FHWA (2006), Managing Travel Demand: Applying European Perspectives to U.S. Practice, National Cooperative Highway Research Program; Federal Highway Administration (www.fhwa.dot.gov); available at http://international.fhwa.dot.gov/traveldemand/index.htm.


Joel Hirschhorn (2000), In the Fast Lane: Delivering More Transportation Choices to Break Gridlock, National Governor’s Association, Center for Best Practices (www.nga.org), Nov. 2000.


IISD, Sustainable Development Gateway, International Institute for Sustainable Development (www.sdgateway.net/topics/111.htm) contains case studies and other resources developed by members of the Sustainable Development Communications Network (SDCN). Transportation studies, case studies, assessments, colloquia, etc. 21 titles link to the relevant sites. Covering over 50 topics, the SD Topics section includes links to more than 1,200 documents: www.sdgateway.net/topics/default.htm


Institute for Transportation Development Policy (ITDP) (www.itdp.org/tra/tra_5/index.html) promotes sustainable and equitable transportation policies and projects worldwide.


International Network for Urban Development (INTA) (www.inta-aivn.org/99-menus/ContentFrameSet10.htm) is an international network promoting urban development best practices exchange.


Doug Koplow and John Dernbach (2001), Federal Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: A Case Study of Increasing Transparency for Fiscal Policy, Annual Review of Energy and Environment, Vol. 26 (www.annualreviews.org), pp. 361-89.


NALGEP (2005), Clean Communities on the Move: A Partnership-Driven Approach to Clean Air and Smart Transportation, National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals (NALGEP), (www.nalgep.org).


Noxon Associates (2008), The Case For TDM In Canada: Transportation Demand Management Initiatives And Their Benefits – A Handbook For Practitioners, Association for Commuter Transportation of Canada (www.actcanada.com); at www.actcanada.com/EN/Downloads/Case%20for%20TDM%20in%20Canada%20FINAL%20October%202008.pdf.


Noxon Associates (2011), Transportation Demand Management for Canadian Communities: A Guide to Understanding, Planning and Delivering TDM Programs, Transport Canada (www.tc.gc.ca/urban); at www.noxonassociates.com/guide.html.


OECD (2000), Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Best Practice Competition, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (www1.oecd.org/env/ccst/est/curract/vienna2000/EST-Best-Practices-Synthesis-Report-Part2.pdf). Includes 18 transportation best practices case studies.


OECD (2001), Database on Environmentally Related Taxes, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (www1.oecd.org/env/policies/taxes/index.htm).


OUM (2001), TDM Success Stories, Office of Urban Mobility, Washington State Department of Transportation (www.wsdot.wa.gov/mobility/TDM/TDMsuccess.html).


Stephen Potter and Tom Rye (2000), The Potential for Further Changes to the Personal Taxation Regime to Encourage Modal Shift, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (www.dtlr.gov.uk/itwp/modalshift/index.htm).


PROSPECTS (2003), Transport Strategy: A Decisionmakers Guidebook, Konsult, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds (www.konsult.leeds.ac.uk); at www.konsult.leeds.ac.uk/public/level1/sec00/index.htm.


Robert Puentes and Ryan Prince (2003), Fueling Transportation Finance: A Primer on the Gas Tax, Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, Brookings Institute (www.brookings.edu/es/urban).


RAND Europe (2005), Analysis and Assessment of Policies: Report on Performance of Policies, European Commission (www.summa-eu.org).


Reconnecting America (2009), Realizing the Potential for Sustainable and Equitable TOD:  Recommendations to the Interagency Partnership on Sustainable Communities, Reconnecting America (http://reconnectingamerica.org); at http://reconnectingamerica.org/public/display_asset/091118ra_sustainabilityrecommendations_final.


Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) has 4 urban transportation success stories, summarized and referenced, at www.rec.org/REC/Programs/SustainableCities/Transportation.html and 2 car use reduction successes, summarized and referenced, at www.rec.org/REC/Programs/SustainableCities/Land.html


Philipp Rode, Catarina Heeckt, Nuno da Cruz (2019), National Transport Policy and Cities: Key Policy Interventions to Drive Compact and Connected Urban Growth, Coalition for Urban Transitions (www.coalitionforurbantransitions.org); at https://lsecities.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/CUT2019_transport_final.pdf.


Jan A. Schwaab and Sascha Thielmann (2001), Economic Instruments for Sustainable Road Transport. An overview for Policy Makers in Developing Countries, GTZ (www.gtz.de) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (www.unescap.org); at www.gtz.de/dokumente/Economic_Instruments_for_Sustainable_Road_Transport.pdf.


SMILE - Sustainable Urban Transport Policies and Initiatives (www.smile-europe.org/frame22.html). 170 successful and replicable European practices for sustainable mobility.

Strategic Policy Options for Sustainable Development Database (www.iges.or.jp/cgi-bin/rispo/index_spo.cgi), Research on Innovative and Strategic Policy Options (RISPO) by the Institute for Global Environmental Studies provides information, recommended best practices and case studies on a wide range of sustainable policies and strategies.


Sustainable Development Online (http://sd-online.ewindows.eu.org) has information on sustainable development programs throughout the world.


TC, Moving On Sustainable Transportation (MOST), Transport Canada (www.tc.gc.ca/EnvAffairs/most/successful_submissions.shtml). Program supports education and awareness-raising projects that promote sustainable transportation. Also see the Case Study Library Profiling Twenty-Five Innovative Approaches To Sustainable Urban Transportation In Canada, (www.tc.gc.ca/programs/environment/UTSP/casestudylibrary.htm).


TELLUS - Bringing CIVITAS Onto the Road (www.tellus-cities.net), European Union. Describes projects to demonstrate that integrated urban transport policies can help reduce urban traffic problems.


Transport Research Knowledge Centre (http://ec.europa.eu/transport/extra/web/index.cfm) provides information on European transport research programmes that support sustainable mobility.


Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Database (www.tc.gc.ca/programs/environment/UTSP/tdm.htm) by Transport Canada, contains profiles and results for transportation management projects that foster energy efficiency, sustainable development, accessibility and increased productivity by influencing urban travel behaviours.


UN-HABITAT, Best Practices & Local Leadership Programme United Nations Human Settlements Programme (www.bestpractices.org). Contains 1,100 demonstrated projects from 120 countries recognized by the Best Practices & Local Leadership Programme (BLP) for addressing common social, economic and environmental problems of an urbanizing world.


USEPA (2001), Directory of Air Quality Economic Incentive Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (http://yosemite.epa.gov/aa/programs.nsf).


USEPA, Voluntary Emission Reduction Policies and Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov/oms/transp/traqvolm.htm). This website describes the successful implementation of various voluntary mobile source reduction measures.


USEPA (2002), Transportation Control Measures Program Information Directory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (http://yosemite.epa.gov/aa/tcmsitei.nsf). This is an on-line searchable database with approximately 120 case studies of programs that reduce transportation pollution emissions.


USEPA (2002), Smart Moves: Transportation and Smart Growth Best Practices (www.epa.gov/livability/smart_moves.htm) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This competition profiles state and local efforts to promote smart growth principles in transportation projects.


USEPA, Gateway to International Best Practices and Innovations, EPA National Center for Environmental Innovation (www.epa.gov/innovation/international/transportation.htm).

WBCSD, Sustainable Mobility Project, World Business Council on Sustainable Development (www.wbcsdmobility.org/mobility_web/index.asp) includes 200 mobility case studies with brief descriptions and internet links.


WHO (2004), Case Studies On Sustainable Development, World Health Organization (www.who.dk/eprise/main/WHO/Progs/HCP/Documentation/20010917_2)


World Bank, Urban Transport Group Case Studies, World Bank (www.worldbank.org/transport/urbtrans/pubtrans.htm) includes information on projects in the developing world, with summaries/abstracts and full texts.

This Encyclopedia is produced by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute to help improve understanding of Transportation Demand Management. It is an ongoing project. Please send us your comments and suggestions for improvement.




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