Wisconsin Passenger and Freight Statewide Model: Case Study in Statewide Model Validation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, land use - planning, ridership - demand


Wisconsin, Validation, Travel models (Travel demand), Travel demand, Statewide travel models, Software validation, National Household Travel Survey, Intercity travel, Freight and passenger traffic, Commodity flow, Census Transportation Planning Package, Case studies


This paper reports the model validation process for a passenger and a freight statewide model developed for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. These policy-sensitive planning models are used to understand and quantify passenger and freight flows in Wisconsin and to support system-planning analyses at a statewide level. Examples of policies being tested include the impact of different land use scenarios and transportation projects on highway traffic, the diversion of traffic along key corridors, and the ridership potential of enhanced intercity bus service. The passenger model was estimated by using the Wisconsin add-on for the 2001 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), and the freight model was estimated by using Transearch commodity flow data. Model validation relied on the NHTS data, statewide automobile and truck traffic counts, intercity transit ridership estimates, and 2000 U.S. Census data including the Census Transportation Planning Package, FHWA’s validation manual, and NCHRP Report 365. The Wisconsin statewide models are presented as case studies to highlight the data sources, model estimation and validation methodologies, and results obtained at a statewide level. The passenger and freight validation results support the robustness of the models at a statewide and a corridor level. The methodology and standards discussed for the Wisconsin statewide models provide another data point to help establish guidelines for statewide model validation.