Holiday Travel Forecast Infographic

Use this template package along with RITIS tool results to create a holiday travel forecast infographic to share with the traveling public during major holidays with high levels of traffic, such as Thanksgiving and Labor Day, and help communicate vital advisory information such as which hours are likely to be most congested, specific roadways that could be significantly impacted or higher than average accidents occurring on a particular day. These infographics, along with agency safety tips and travel service apps (like 511) can better provide drivers with a safer, more relaxing travel experience.

Overview

  1. Click to download the PowerPoint template to create a report that presents a travel forecast infographic for a region. Additional design resources are also available to help build your document.
  2. Download Agency Use Case examples below to see how other agencies have used these templates or have created similar reports using content from RITIS:
  3. Scroll down to learn how to create this report or click on the 'How To Create Report' in the navigational menu.

Tools Used In This Report (click on the links for a brief video tutorial on using a tool)

Design Recommendations To Keep In Mind

We've strived to make the Guides simple and easy to understand, but if you have any questions or need help, please contact us at support@ritis.org. To start off, we think these abbreviated Lessons Learned from FHWA's Performance Reporting Prototype Technical Report are very instructive and important to keep in mind:

  • Tailor report content and format to engage and inform your audience

    • Keep reports for the general public engaging and simple
    • Reserve greater complexity for professional transportation audience
    • Consider how the audience experiences transportation - the general public typically doesn't care about agency business process silos
  • Relevant, easy-to-understand graphics are likely to be shared

    • ‟Single issue, single page” graphics-heavy infographics are a valuable tool to draw in a larger audience
  • Snapshots are not enough

    • Make sure to include trends and contextual information
    • Link to actions being taken by the organization
  • Don't empasize appearance over effectiveness

    • Information should be conveyed clearly and concisely
    • Simplicity over embellishment is usually best
  • Tell a story so the data comes alive

    The story must be delivered at the right technical level for the audience and targeted on an area of interest

How to Create the Report

Click on each numbered box below to learn how to create the content in each section and how we used RITIS to generate charts and produce performance data.

1

How to make the Holiday Travel Forecast infographic

  1. Open the Holiday Travel Forecast template

    Screenshot of the Holiday Travel Forecast template accessible via the "Download Template" link near the top of this page Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. In the Overview section above, click the Download Template button to download the infographic template and open it.
    2. You can use this template or choose one of the other agency use case examples for a different layout. Or create your own.
      • Note that some of the agency use case examples are NOT editable (PDF format). However, most are relatively simple to recreate if so desired.
  2. Open the Design Resources Icons, Graphics & Tips document

    Screenshot of the first slide of the file accessible via the "Download Design Resources" link near the top of this page
    Screenshot of a PowerPoint slide full of icons and images representing a wide variety of holidays Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Icon of a turkey, followed by icons of one car, two cars, and three cars side-by-side
    1. Download the Design Resources Icons, Graphics & Tips document and open it. For this infographic we used the Holiday Travel Icons/Graphics page.
    2. For our Thanksgiving Week Holiday Travel Forecast graphic, we used these icons:
      • The turkey graphic
      • The car icons, representing light, moderate and heavy traffic conditions
    3. Choose whatever graphics or icons work best for your situation or use your own.
    4. Also gather your agency’s logo, a background image (if so desired) and any other graphics or icons you think will be useful.
      Lightbulb icon indicating that you can click to learn a little more

      Tip

      Using high-resolution images will give your report a more professional look. If you image is bright, and you want it darker either use the Corrections function under Picture Format or overlay a colored box and make it semi-transparent.
      We also recommend using a transparent version (png) of your agency’s logo, if available.

    5. We’ll be running two RITIS tools – the User Delay Cost Analysis tool and Trend Map – to first gain insight into the overall regional congestion during the holiday week, then drill down into specific routes that would be most likely impacted. We’ll also look at optional event analysis that could be used for “Drive Carefully” messaging.
    6. We will then assemble the infographic at the end of this how-to guide, after gathering all the results.
  3. Run the User Delay Cost Analysis tool

    Screenshot of the Select Roads form Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Screenshot of a map with a polygon drawn on it; all of the segments matching the criteria within the polygon are highlighted Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Screenshot of a map with the selected segments highlighted Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Screenshot of the User Delay Cost Analysis query form Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Screenshot of a dialog box informing the user that their report request has been submitted Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Screenshot of the most recent entry in a "Downloads and Reports" table showing that the requested report is pending Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Open the UDCA tool, and under 1. Select Roads, choose the source of your agency’s TMC segments in the dropdown box – we chose INRIX.
    2. For this infographic, you’ll most likely want to select a region for your analysis. For this example, we will select the Baltimore, MD region.
    3. Start by clicking on the Map tab – you’ll see an area selection control panel appear under the zoom/center map controls in the upper left of the map.
    4. In the Map control box, you can first choose what Region (State, County) you’d like to fine tune your selection, and define what Road Classes to include. For our example, we simply zoomed into the Baltimore region on the map, then selected the Interstate, US Route and State Route Road Classes from the dropdown menu.
      • You can also use the Region tab to define your area, using Regions (state, county), Directions, Zip Codes and Road Classes.
    5. Next, select the “Draw a polygon” tool, and proceeded to click around your area, making sure to include key roads and connectors that may be significantly impacted by holiday travel. We selected a region around Baltimore that included major travel corridors likely impacted by holiday congestion.
    6. Once you’re satisfied with the area, click Finish to close the shape. The TMCs within the shape (and as defined by your road class selection) will appear. Then click Add segments – the map will update with your selected roads.
      Lightbulb icon indicating that you can click to learn a little more

      Tip

      Use the Save as segment set button to save large or complex TMC sets, so you can access those later, share them or run other tools. Be sure to use a naming convention so that your sets are easy to identify. We will save this TMC set to use later in the Trend Map tool.

    7. Now use the query screen to define the rest of the parameters for your search:
    8. Select a time period to analyze - choose the day(s), month(s) and year you wish to analyze. We started on the first Tuesday of November through the 1st of December.
    9. Select volume data source – select available data providers and add to a list. If volume data is not available for a given segment for your first selected provider that has been added to the volume priority list, volume data for that segment will come from the next available provider, and so on. Our selection was Maryland 2019 with a fall back on INRIX 2019.
    10. Select speed data source – select a data provider, including NPMRDS options. We selected INRIX.
    11. Confirm the average cost and percent of volume for passenger and commercial vehicle types – use the default (national) values shown or edit the inputs to your agency-specific values. We used the default values.
    12. Define where delay should be calculated – choose an option for the tool to calculate delay. We selected the default option.
    13. Calculate user delay cost against – choose Free-flow speed, posted speed limit or historical average speed. We chose Free-flow speed.
    14. Provide title – name your query using things like dates, roadway name and limits, condition, etc.
    15. Notifications – check the box if you want to receive an email when the report is ready.
    16. Submit – once you’re satisfied with your query inputs, click the SUBMIT button. You will see a popup that states your request was submitted and to check your “My History” page for the status. You will also receive an email when the report is ready.
  4. Your results will look something like this

    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. The UDC results page will display a matrix of metrics for each day of your time period by each hour of the day. Hovering over any cell will give you four metrics, broken down into subsets (e.g.; Delay Cost, and Delay Cost per VMT).
    2. To help us determine what days & times to avoid travel, we’re going to use the UDC results somewhat differently than we normally would:
      • First, from this UDC results matrix page, we’ll export the table into Excel, and using that Excel spreadsheet, create a table that contains the average for each day of the week – Tuesday through Sunday – for the three weeks prior to Thanksgiving week;
      • Next, we’ll create a second table that summarizes the UDC for the week of Thanksgiving (Tues, 11/26 through Sunday, 12/1);
      • And finally, we’ll create a third table that calculates the % Change in UDC between the two tables above – Tuesday through Sunday – and use some conditional formatting to highlight which days and hours of Thanksgiving week have unusually large changes.
  5. Download the UDC table in Excel and create a % Change in UDC table

    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. At the bottom left-hand corner of the UDC table, click the “Export to Excel” button. The file will download to your computer.
    2. Open the file. We first added some black fill color (with white font color) to the column and row headers, to make them stand out.
    3. To create the Avg Day of Week table, copy the time range row in the UDC table, and paste somewhere underneath. Then in the first column, type in “Avg Tues, Avg Wed” and so on, up to “Avg Sun”.
    4. Next, click the first cell (under 12:00 AM and next to “Avg Tues”) and then on the menu bar, click Formulas, then click Insert Function - the dialog box opens.
    5. Select AVERAGE, then click OK.
    6. In the Number1 dropdown box, enter the cell addresses of the three Tuesdays before Thanksgiving week at the 12:00 AM mark, separated by a comma – B4,B11,B18 – then click OK.
    7. The average of the three Tuesdays before Thanksgiving week will appear in the first cell.
    8. Then, right click the first cell and click copy. Then click the next cell and holding the left mouse button, drag the pointer to highlight all the cells in the table covering 12 AM to Daily Totals, and Avg Tues to Avg Sunday. Then in the highlighted area, right click and select Paste.
    9. The formula will be copied into each cell and display the averages for each hour and average day in the rest of the table.
    10. Next, create a Thanksgiving Impacts Dates table by simply copying and pasting the dates and times for Thanksgiving Week (from the UDC table – Tues 11/26 to Sun 12/1) directly under the Avg Day of Week Table.
    11. Finally, create a % Change in UDC table entering this formula in the first cell, then copying and pasting it to all the others:
      • =(Avg Day/Hr.–Thanksgiving Day/Hr.)/Avg Day/Hr.
        Ex. =(B46-B53)/B46
  6. Create a conditional table to identify times to avoid travel

    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Highlight all the data cells in the % Change in UDC table.
    2. Under Home in the menu bar, click Conditional Formatting, then click Highlight Cell Rules, Less Than…
    3. In the Format cells that are LESS THAN: dropdown, enter 0 and then choose a color combination of fill and text, then click OK. We chose a light red fill with dark red text.
    4. Cell data meeting the format parameters will be colored light red with dark red text.
    5. Now scan the formatted data, and along with your awareness of events and local knowledge of congestion patterns, look for consecutive, particularly large drops in % Changes in UDC. You can also add shoulder times for If desired, add heavy borders around those consecutive cell ranges. These form the general days and hours to avoid travel in the region.
      • In looking for times with significant % Changes in UDC, keeping in mind the potential impacts associated with incidents, work zones, etc. This can also be further evaluated using Trend Map.
    6. Next, we’ll demonstrate using Trend Map to identify specific routes to avoid during high holiday travel times.
  7. Run Trend Map

    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Open the Trend Map tool and use the query screen to define the parameters of your search:
    2. Select roads – Use the Saved Segment Set you created when you ran UDC:
      • Click on the Saved Tab under 2. Select Roads – a list of Segment Sets will appear;
      • Click the Display Options button, and check the box that says, “Show only my segment sets”;
      • Scroll through the list until you see your set, then click on it to highlight, then click the green Add select segment sets button.
      • You can order your Segment Sets A-Z or Z-A by clicking on any of the headers in the Segment Set list to help find the one you're looking for.
    3. Select time periods - choose the day(s), month(s) or year you wish to analyze, then choose time periods for the range as well as days of the week. We want to create a single time period for the three days of the month - say Tuesday – prior to the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, to compare it to Thanksgiving week Tuesday:
      • Under the Days tab, click on the calendar icon, then select a date – we chose 11/5/2019 for the “from” date. Then we chose 11/19/2019 for our “through” date;
      • We then clicked in the radio button, “Create a single time period for this range, then checked the “Limit to specific days of the week” and selected Tues;
      • Finally, we clicked on the green “Add time period” button;
      • Next, we selected the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week – 11/26/2019 – and added that time period.
    4. Select data sources – choose your agency’s data source. We chose INRIX.
    5. Select granularity – choose how fine you want to see the changes in metrics over time. We chose 1 hour.
    6. Submit – once you’re satisfied with your query inputs, click the SUBMIT button.
  8. Your results will look something like this

    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Trend Map will display the selected roadways, with a map for each time period. In our example, the map on the left displays every Tuesday of the month of November 2019; the map on the right shows November 26, 2019 – the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.
    2. Next, select a metric to display. The default is speed (mph), but for our example, we want to look at Congestion (%), which is measured speed as a percentage of free-flow speed. Using Congestion (%) mitigates biases caused by differing speed limits and impacts of traffic signals.
    3. Using the % Change in UDC table as a guide, move the time slider (or press the play button) and observe the changes in congestion over time between the left and right maps. In our example, we started to notice more congestion on Thanksgiving week Tuesday around 10 AM, significantly increased between 2 PM and 7 PM and dissipated thereafter. Therefore, for the Thanksgiving week Tuesday, we’ll recommend to avoid traveling in the Baltimore region between 10 AM and 7 PM.
    4. If desired, you can also include specific routes where travelers can expect congestion – review the maps to determine roadways with significant congestion differentials. Hovering over the roadways will give you information on the route segment, cross street and speed. Use this information to help define routes expected to be congested.
      • When grouping days together (the 3 Tuesdays), Trend Map will not display events, so you’ll need to exercise some judgement in selecting congested roadways as some congestion may be due to incidents. An option to help evaluating that is to run each analysis day separately, then do your comparative analysis.
    5. Use this same process for each of the remaining days analyzed for Thanksgiving Week – Wednesday through Sunday.
  9. Run the Event Query Tool (optional)

    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. If you wish, you can run the EQT to develop event results for your infographic to help holiday travelers have a safer trip:
    2. Select DATA SOURCES – choose your state, select one or more data sources. For our example we selected Maryland, and MDOT CHART (Maryland DOT) data
    3. Select EVENT TYPES - choose the event types that you would like to include. We chose Every Day Counts Types and MDOT CHART (Maryland DOT) Agency-specific Types.
    4. Select LOCATION – specify a road and a region. We wanted to look at three key roads in the Baltimore Region – I-95, I-295 and I-695.
      • Note that you can add a single road to your query or multiple roads, if you separate each with a comma. You can also query on a single county, multiple counties or the entire state.
    5. Select TIME PERIOD – choose the dates and times you wish to analyze.
    6. SUMIT QUERY – once you’re satisfied with your query inputs, click the SUBMIT QUERY button.
  10. Your results will look something like this

    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Your results will display in a table.
    2. We want to display the events on a map for easier viewing – click on the “View events on map” icon in the upper left corner of the table view.
    3. Your initial view will be in a heat map. We changed that to Icon Mode, so we can see the event types.
    4. Zoom into areas of interest and click on any of the icons to get more information.
    5. You can use the information to make some judgements about event expectations – for example, compare the number of events on the selected roads during the Thanksgiving week Tuesday vs the average of the other three Tuesdays of November (e.g.; events are 29% higher than an average Tuesday this month – DRIVE CAREFULLY).
  11. Assemble your infographic

    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Using the infographic template and icons/graphics sheet, start adding your information.
    2. Gather your agency’s logo, a background photo (if desired) and a Thanksgiving-related icon or graphic.
    3. Add the background photo. Resize the image so it fills the entire page, crop it to size, if necessary, then right-click on it and select "Send to Back" from the drop-down menu so the image lays behind the graphics and text.
    4. Based upon your analysis, use the colored bars to represent traffic conditions for each day – light, moderate or heavy, and if you wish, include specific hours (and routes) that are expected to be congested.
    5. Add the car icons to reinforce each traffic condition bar and add your Thanksgiving graphic on Thanksgiving day.
    6. Add a heading/subheading and any other information you think is useful, such as a link to your 511 system for live traffic conditions.
    7. Your infographic is now complete and ready for distribution!

Your report is now complete!

Screenshot of a completed forecast infographic. There is an MDOT logo in the top-left, a CHART logo in the top-right, a title in the top-center that reads 2022 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast, and a subtitle below that which reads Greater Baltimore, MD Region - November 22nd to 27th. The infographic beneath that shows heavy traffic predicted on Tuesday and Wednesday, light traffic predicted Thursday through Saturday, and moderate traffic predicted on Sunday. Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
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