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Establishment surveys (also known as workplace surveys) ...

Introduction to Establishment Surveys

Establishment surveys (also known as workplace surveys) collect data on the characteristics of trips made to non-residential locations. The people who travel to non-residential, or commercial, establishments can be divided roughly into two classes: workers and visitors. (Visitors are further categorized as residents of the region and non-residents.) An establishment survey may be directed toward either or both groups, or may concentrate on a specific type of establishment, e.g., shopping center, school, hospital, etc. Many types of analyses, especially those related to studying rezoning, traffic impacts, congestion management, and trip reduction programs, require information on the number and types of trips attracted to various facilities.

The most exacting collection procedures belong to the establishment survey specifically designed for obtaining data needed for the calibration of the trip attraction models. In model development, the trip attraction data are used to help balance the production data collected during a household travel/activity survey, and to provide more detailed origin-destination data for specific types of facilities or for specific geographic locations. Attraction rates, such as person trips per employee by industry type, are commonly sought. Using secondary sources of data, such as State Employment Commission establishment data, it is possible to apply the survey-derived attraction rates to make small area estimates of trip attractions for home-based work trips, home-based non-work trips, and non-home-based trips.

In the mid-1980s, planning agencies began to obtain workplace and establishment survey data as part of their regional modeling data collection efforts. Since that time, the increased interest in employer-based TDM measures has led to the implementation of several other workplace and establishment surveys throughout the country.

The workplace/establishment survey can incorporate up to five separate data collection efforts for each sampled workplace: 1. Collection of employer information; 2. Survey of employees; 3. Survey of site visitors; 4. Person and/or vehicle count; and 5. Survey and count of delivery people and/or a count of delivery vehicles. In recent years, GPS technology has been used to collect commercial vehicle movement data for vehicles based at the establishment site.


This section draws from Chapter 18 of the Travel Survey Manual, authored by Frank Southworth, Yongping Zhang and Joy Sharp. Chapter 18 draws from FHWA Manual Chapter 10.