Toward Human-Centric Transportation and Energy Metrics: Influence of Mode, Vehicle Occupancy, Trip Distance, and Fuel Economy

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1 Scopus Citations


Traditional metrics measuring transportation and energy outcomes can be augmented to better represent impacts on people’s lives and systems-level performance. This study introduces, analyzes, and tests two novel metrics: human-centered road capacity (road capacity for people) and energy intensity (energy use for people’s transportation) using empirical cumulative distribution functions of associated parameters for scenario development. Current national-level distributions of available data in the United States for factors contributing to the two new integrated metrics are used as context to evaluate potential outcomes. These factors include vehicle occupancy, mode share, fuel economy, and trip distance. Variations in input values provide insights on how these factors shape efficiencies in road capacity and energy intensity. Parametric sensitivity analysis indicates that the impact of each input depends on the metric being evaluated. For the human-centered road capacity mobility metric, increasing vehicle occupancy has the largest effect—twice that of increasing mode share for bike, walk, and transit. For the energy intensity mobility metric, the effect of improving fuel economy is the largest. Additionally, a novel interactive tool to visualize the results for various parameter combinations is designed to allow researchers and decision makers to test the metrics. The findings show deficiencies in continuing to use traditional vehicle-centric metrics and suggest that the diffusion of new human-centric metrics that benchmark outcomes associated with road capacity and energy may be significant in motivating new sustainable transportation investments and efficient utilization of infrastructure, mobility assets, and services.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)467-478
Number of pages12
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© National Academy of Sciences: Transportation Research Board 2022.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-78869


  • access/accessibility
  • accessibility
  • accessibility and mobility
  • analytic data visualization
  • bicycles
  • data and data science
  • human factors
  • multimodal analysis
  • multimodal information systems
  • pedestrians
  • planning and analysis
  • sustainability and resilience
  • transportation and sustainability


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