Optimizing Transit Choice and Community Sustainability

Imagine a community that was easy, safe, and environmentally friendly to navigate and take transit. One where you get to work easily by grabbing your bike from a bike parking facility or from a nearby bike share. One in which your employer-provided bus pass or bike share membership gets you to work and to your favorite park across town. One where your elevator ride down from your office informs you when your next bus will arrive. One where you’re less beholden to the flows of vehicle traffic to access work, culture, cuisine and community so that you can truly enjoy all Madison has to offer.

The City of Madison is working to make this imagined community a reality through our new and improved Transportation Demand Management (TDM) policy.

TDM is supported in the Imagine Madison Comprehensive Plan and the Madison Sustainability Plan. TDM is defined in the Madison General Ordinances as measures including “carpooling, vanpooling, public transit, bicycling, walking, telecommuting, and work schedules that reduce individual vehicle trips and promote alternatives to single occupant vehicle use especially at peak commuting times.”​

For Madison and many other communities, the emphasis is on shifting travel to sustainable transportation options; such as transit, rideshare, biking, and walking. TDM strategies help us use a fixed amount of roadway capacity efficiently, and are a key factor in reducing emissions associated with Climate change. 

Figure 1 Madison TDM Program purpose

Taking a TDM approach to transportation system management is the opposite of what communities throughout the US, communities have traditionally done. Historically, cities have taken a “Transportation Congestion Management Approach” - widening streets to accommodate development traffic. This has led to wider roadways that are expensive to maintain, and dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. TDM flips the approach, incentivizing development to reduce the number of trips generated to fit within the existing transportation network.Figure 2: TDM Approach


Did you know?
TDM requirements have existed in Madison for over 20 years in Madison General Ordinances (MGO) 28.082, 28.066, 28.183, and 33.24.

The recently enacted MGO 16.03 provides a consistent and uniform way to implement TDM, reducing uncertainty and complexity for developers and decision makers.

Why a city-wide TDM program is important for Madison

ACS 2019 - Data Pie Chart - transportation methods
Roughly two-thirds of Madison's work-related commute trips were in the form of drive-alone trips (American Community Survey, 2019). The citywide program can help preserve road capacity and limit negative impacts of system-wide traffic (measured as vehicle miles traveled or “VMT”), generated by new development. The TDM program will also proactively address localized issues of public health and safety, livability and multi-modal access by improving sustainable transportation options (such as biking and transit), as well as incorporating infrastructure and services within development proposals.

Benefits of the New TDM Program:

For Residents

  • Residents will have greater choices on how they travel to stores and jobs as pedestrian, biking, and transit options are enhanced.
  • Reduced traffic impacts and congestion from new development as more trips are shifted away from the automobile.
  • More livable streets, including the health and safety benefits of more active transportation with less congestion.
  • Fewer traffic emissions and greenhouse gases.

For Developers

  • Consistency – TDM requirements are uniform across Madison for all developments with targets based on project size and parking capacity.
  • Choice – Developers can select from a menu of TDM options, such as wayfinding signs and bike sharing, to develop the plan that is appropriate for the development.
  • Clarity – The program provides straightforward requirements.
  • Credit – The program gives credit for meeting existing city requirements such as bicycle parking and pedestrian access.


National best practices

TDM programs have been effectively implemented in cities throughout the nation. One example is Arlington Virginia, which between 2008 and 2014, Arlington documented an average weekday reduction in SOV trips of eight percent with a resulting reduction in VMT of 38 percent countywide. Madison has studied numerous plans throughout to country to inform its plan. These plans include cities of a variety of sizes and the best, most effective concepts from these programs have been incorporated into the City’s proposed program:

Figure 3 Existing TDM programs/ordinances

Additional Information