Origin and Destination Surveys

Origin and Destination Surveys provide a detailed picture of the trip patterns and travel choices of a city’s or region’s residents. These surveys collect valuable data related to households, individuals, and trips. This information allows traffic engineers and planners to understand travel patterns and characteristics that provide input to travel demand model development, forecasting, and planning for wide-area transportation infrastructure needs and services.

Origin is the location where a trip begins. It is described in terms of a street address, a monument (e.g., a well‐known location, an office building, a school, etc.), a street intersection, or a district. All survey origins have been geo‐coded for precision. Each origin has also been assigned a zone number, to support the application of the survey data for travel demand modeling and forecasting.

The destination is the location where a trip ends. It has similar attributes to the trip origin. Origin‐destination describes both ‘ends’ of a single trip. This term is commonly abbreviated to ‘O‐D.’

Household is the basic analytical unit of the survey sample. It corresponds to a group of people, whether related or unrelated, who live together in the same location.

Trip or person trip is a single or one‐directional movement of one person from one point (origin) to a second point (destination), for a single purpose. For example, the commute from home to work represents one trip. The purpose of this trip is to go to work. However, if the commuter stopped along the way to drop off a child at a daycare, then two trips have been made: first, for the purpose of ‘serving a passenger’ (pick up or drop off) and then to go to work. A single trip can comprise one or more modes and one or more transfers; for example, the commuter might have driven to a Transitway station, where she parked the vehicle in the parking lot and then taken the bus to her workplace.

Trip purpose describes the reason that the trip is made. The table below lists the twelve unique trip purposes used in the survey.


  • Travel to work
  • Work-related (i.e., going somewhere outside one’s normal place of work to conduct business)
  • Working on the road (i.e., outside a single fixed place of work)
  • Travel to school
  • Shopping trips or trips for household maintenance
  • Restaurant
  • Recreation, eg. going to the theatre
  • Visit friends or family
  • Hospital
  • Drive someone (i.e., dropping someone off)
  • Pick up someone (i.e., picking up someone)
  • Return home from any activity
  • Other purposes (not otherwise identified)

Note that the commute from home to work is categorized as a ‘work’ trip, whereas the return trip from work to home (which may be simply the same trip on the same mode in the reverse direction) is categorized as ‘return home.’

Origin and Destination Surveys will be carried out for 24 hours a day from morning 06:00 AM to 06:00 AM of the next morning. This timing allows the survey to complete as much as possible the trips chain for which return home happened after midnight.

Peak periods are the times of day when the transportation system (both road and transit) typically carries the maximum number of trips, according to their start time. The morning (AM) peak period has been determined as trips starting between 6:00 to 09:00. The afternoon (PM) peak period corresponds to trips starting between 12:00 to 15:00, whereas the evening (PM) peak period starting from 17:00 to 20:00. Peak hours are the hours within the respective morning, afternoon, and evening peak periods that have the highest concentration of trips.