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Forecasting FAQs

Forecasting's responsibilities include the analysis and interpretation of forecast data to support studies and inquiries by City staff, developers, and the public. The analysis is drawn from a time series of future scenarios: the Scenario Series. This FAQ is provided to answer some of the more commonly asked questions about requests for forecasting analysis.

  1. What is the Regional Transportation Model (RTM)?
  2. How can the RTM be used to support planning decisions?
  3. How often is the RTM updated?
  4. What kind of information is needed to develop or update the RTM?
  5. What results can Forecasting provide?
  6. What future years are available?
  7. What information should I provide when making a forecasting request?
  8. How much will I be charged?
  9. How long will it take to produce the results?
  10. How is future growth accounted for in the Scenario Series? What is included in the future land use assumptions? Is the development of my site included?
  11. What transportation infrastructure projects are included in the forecast?
  12. How are future infrastructure projects included in the Series?
  13. I have a forecast from two years ago. Is it still valid?
  14. I compared this forecast (most recent Scenario Series) to one from an old report for the same horizon year. The new numbers are different. Why?

1. What is the Regional Transportation Model (RTM)?

The Regional Transportation Model or RTM is a computer simulation of travel behaviour in the city and surrounding region. It is a regional model with a Calgary focus and is capable of delivering detailed analysis for Calgary along with information about major regional corridors.

The RTM is a state-of-the-practice trip-based travel demand model that is well regarded across North America. It is a 24 hour weekday model that simulates all modes of travel including auto, transit, walking and cycling. The 24 hour model day is divided into 5 time periods to that represent the AM and PM Peak periods along with the rest of the day.

For more information, please see Model Documentation.

2. How can the RTM be used to support planning decisions?

The value in the RTM is its ability to test scenarios of land use, transportation infrastructure and policy. It is possible to assess the impacts of an interchange before spending millions on construction costs or determine the impact of a new development without waiting for the development to build out. The information from this type of analysis helps support planning decisions.

3. How often is the RTM updated?

The City of Calgary has been using transportation models since the first model was developed in 1964. The models have been updated and improved with respect to form and function on a regular basis with significant updates occurring every 10 years. The current RTM was redesigned 10 years ago in order to answer increasingly complex questions about urban travel and using travel behaviour information collected in 2001. The Forecasting Division collected new travel behaviour information in 2012 through the Calgary and Region Travel and Activity Survey (www.calgary.ca/travelsurveys​). This information will be used to update the RTM to current conditions.

4. What kind of information is needed to develop or update the RTM?

There are two kinds of information required to update the RTM: travel behaviour and activity information collected through household travel and activity surveys; and independent validation data which include traffic, transit, bike and pedestrian counts, travel time studies and special generator studies.

The travel behaviour information is used to develop the equations in the RTM that estimate travel demand and the choice people make about where, when and how they travel on a daily basis. The independent validation data is used to verify the calculated results and ensures the RTM is consistent with observed conditions.

5. What results can Forecasting provide?

See Forecasting Typical Outputs for descriptions of results.

6. What future years are available?

The plan|it/CMP Scenario Series, includes the years 2006, 2019, 2029, 2039, 2076. These are known as "horizons". If data is required for a horizon (e.g. 2021) that falls between two standard forecast horizons, a linear interpolation is done. All information previously posted that related to the 2006 SFS has been archived at 2006 Standard Forecast Series Archives.

7. What information should I provide when making a forecasting request?

Forecasting analysis can be requested by filling out the following Transportation Forecasting Request Form.

If the form doesn’t meet your needs, please, e-mail us at tranplanforecast@calgary.ca.

8. How much will I be charged?

Charges are based on actual staff time spent performing the analysis. Invoices are mailed separately after completion of the work. If you have special billing requirements, they must be identified at the time of making the request.

9. How long will it take to produce the results?

Complexity of the analysis required to satisfy the request and our current workload are primary factors in determining when Forecasting can deliver results. Our estimate of completion will take this into account. Busy periods in the past have resulted in turnaround times of several weeks - even for uncomplicated requests.

10. How are future changes in land use accounted for in the Scenario Series? What is included in the future land use assumptions? Is the development of my site included?

The density and distribution of population and jobs are crucial inputs in the estimation of travel demand. The forecasting of future population and jobs is the responsibility of the Geodemographics Section.

For more information, go to the following reports:

The City-wide Information Package:

The population and job totals for the region and city are allocated to transportation zones based on available land supply, land use designations, approved policy plans and market absorption.

Questions related to population and jobs growth – particularly at the transportation zone level of detail - should be forwarded to: Michele Broadhurst

11. What future transportation infrastructure projects are included in the forecast?

When you receive the forecast, Forecasting will include a brief list of the pertinent transportation infrastructure projects affecting your study area. A complete list and maps of the locations of all transportation projects assumed in each of the horizons are included in the Current Scenario Series as downloadable files.

12. How are future infrastructure projects included in the Series?

The decision to include a transportation project in a future horizon is dependent on a number of factors. In general, the City's TIIP (Transportation Infrastructure Investment Plan) provides a list of projects approved for funding over the upcoming 10 years. The Transportation Infrastructure Investment Plan is available online.

Provincial transportation projects are included in appropriate horizons as determined by Alberta Transportation. Collector roads serving planned new residential and commercial development are also added according to anticipated years of completion. Assumptions about future transit service are provided by Calgary Transit. The longer term horizons (20 years and beyond) are developed by Calgary Transit, the Network Planning Division of Transportation Planning and by Alberta Transportation. These networks are financially constrained (except the Long Range) and based on land use patterns, policies and needs assessments for each horizon. The Long Range horizon is based on the Calgary Transportation Plan and the Calgary Metropolitan Plan. Assumptions about these future horizons are subject to change and do not represent any commitment to construction on the part of the City, Province or Region.

13. I have a forecast from two years ago. Is it still valid?

The short answer is probably not. Revisions to the land use assumptions occur about once every 3 to 5 years. Changes to planned roadway and transit projects, particularly in the long-range horizons, are also fairly common. Noise studies and transportation impact assessments typically require very up-to-date forecasts. However, older forecasts can still be useful in a comparative sense.

14. I compared this forecast to one from an old report for the same horizon year. The new numbers are different. Why?

The current version of any Standard Forecast Series or Scenario Series may cover some of the same horizon years as previous series. However, each forecast/scenario series incorporates significant new and/or updated information in terms of land use, funding levels, infrastructure improvements, and new policy directions. Things change and the forecasts are EXPECTED to change. Each study should use the best information available at the time the study is done.

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