Complete Enough for Complete Streets?

An increasing number of jurisdictions across the United States are exploring level of service (LOS) for multiple travel modes, in part as a result of the release of the Highway Capacity Manual 2010 (HCM 2010), as well as an increased focus on complete streets policies. One of the most important questions being asked by these jurisdictions is whether new multimodal LOS methods are sensitive enough to inform transportation investments, mitigate impacts, and prioritize future projects. For this paper, transportation professionals (public, private, and academic) were surveyed about the inputs believed to have the greatest effect on pedestrian, bicycle, transit, and auto LOS or the inputs thought to have the greatest likelihood of being changed (e.g., to mitigate an impact or to improve existing conditions). Sensitivity testing was then performed at locations in four cities to measure how the HCM 2010 multimodal LOS scores responded as these inputs were incrementally increased or decreased. Although many inputs performed as expected, the testing also found model responses that were of a questionable direction or magnitude. The results of this study are informative for agencies that are considering adopting the HCM 2010 multimodal LOS for mitigation, resource allocation, and strategic decision making. The results also provide a starting point for additional research needed to enhance multimodal LOS methods.

Background and Approach

LOS+ is a hybrid tool that implements two different multi-modal level of service (MMLOS) methodologies. The automobile LOS component of the analysis tool is consistent with the NCHRP Project 3-70 methodology and the pedestrian, bicycle, and transit LOS components are consistent with the methodologies incorporated in the Highway Capacity Manual 2010 (HCM2010). The analysis tool was developed as a link-based evaluation tool, which only analyzes the MMLOS along the roadway segment and not the intersection. This hybrid approach is less data-intensive than the full HCM2010 methodology and produces results that  generally reflect pedestrian, bicyclist, and transit rider perceptions of service along the roadway.

NCHRP Project 3-70 provided the basis for the MMLOS methodology adopted in the HCM2010. However, there are some significant differences between the NCHRP and HCM methodologies. The auto LOS methodology in the HCM is more robust, but requires more input data and is computationally intensive. The HCM2010 methods for pedestrian, bicycle and transit LOS are very similar to that of NCHRP Project 3-70, the main difference is that the HCM2010 algorithms are more computationally intensive and give greater attention to  MMLOS operations at the intersection level. LOS+ was developed as a hybrid methodology tool; an approach which minimizes the data inputs needed while providing results that are consistent with the HCM2010 for active transportation modes.

Intended Use

LOS+ was developed to be a quick-response/sketch-planning tool that provides guidance in designing urban streets to better accommodate the four major travel modes. The analysis tool can determine impacts that specific roadway improvements have on each  mode. LOS+ is an appropriate tool for general planning projects such as specific plans, road diet studies, and corridor planning studies.

LOS+ is not intended to be used as a complete traffic operations analysis model because operations at the intersection level are not incorporated. Thus, LOS+ should NOT be used to perform transportation impact analyses for specific development projects. The methodology is not effective in determining improvements that would mitigate MMLOS impacts at the intersection level.

Comparison between LOS+ and other MMLOS software

Complete Streets LOS
  • Developed by Kittleson & Associates, Inc.
  • Computational engine coding is closed-source
  • Initial license cost = $1,850
  • Analyzes MMLOS along roadway segments, at intersections, and combines results to determine overall facility LOS for each mode
  • Developed consistent with HCM2010 methods
  • Currently available for purchase
HCS 2010 Streets
  • Developed by McTrans
  • Computational engine coding is closed source
  • Initial license cost = $2,000.00 for entire HCS 2010 package, including the Streets module
  • Analyzes MMLOS along roadway segments, at intersections, and combines results to determine overall facility LOS for each mode
  • Developed consistent with HCM2010 methods
  • Software release expected in February/March 2012
  • Developed by Fehr & Peers
  • Coding is open-source – analysts can verify consistency with NCHRP Project 3-70 and HCM2010 methods
  • Available for download FREE on this website
  • Hybrid methodology approach – auto LOS method consistent with NCHRP Project 3-70; pedestrian, bicycle and transit LOS methods are consistent with HCM2010
  • Analyzes MMLOS along roadway segments (intersection and overall facility LOS not provided)
  • Compared to CompleteStreetsLOS and HCS 2010 Streets, LOS+ is
    • less data-intensive,
    • less expensive to own (free), and
    • produces results that generally reflect auto, pedestrian, bicycle, and transit user perceptions of service along the roadway.


For more information...

contact Francisco Martin