Metro Vision is aspirational, long-range and regional in focus: Metro Vision’s planning horizon extends 20 years and beyond to help the region address future concerns while considering current priorities.
Are we making progress toward the future identified in Metro Vision? The plan outlines a series of performance measures to help answer that question. These measures help verify whether our collective actions are helping us move toward the desired future outcomes.
Why does Metro Vision include this set of measures? Individual communities and others contribute toward desired future outcomes in different ways and at different speeds. This set of measures serves to gauge collective impact.
Performance measures are critically important in monitoring the region’s progress toward Metro Vision themes and outcomes. They are used to periodically measure outcomes and results. They also generate reliable data to help local governments and partners evaluate policies, programs and initiatives. To learn more or to find raw data used in the performance measures, explore the resources below.
These measures are ahead of the pace needed to achieve 2040 target.
Housing and transportation costs are often the two largest components of household spending. These costs are often interdependent – location can impact housing costs and transportation choices. This measure tracks the share of the region’s population living in areas with housing and transportation costs that do not exceed 45 percent of the annual income for the regional typical household as reported by the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index.
The region is ahead of schedule to meet the 2040 target where 50% of all the region’s residents live in locations affordable to the typical household. This is based on 2013 and 2015 observations which may not constitute enough data to form a conclusion.
Most of this progress may be attributed to increases in median income. Lagging housing cost data used in the index may not fully reflect more recent increases in home prices and monthly rents.
This measure tracks total employment in the region through county-level estimates produced by the State of Colorado. The State’s employment forecasts are central to local and regional planning assumptions, which form the basis for the 2040 target.
The region is ahead of schedule to meet the 2040 target of 2.6 million jobs. With the 2016 observation showing over 120,000 more jobs than the 2014 baseline, the region is nearly two years ahead of the pace needed to reach the 2040 target.
Along with the nation, the region regularly experiences cycles of economic expansion and recession that affect employment levels. Given the length of this period of economic expansion since the Great Recession, a future recession is likely. This could yield slower growth that brings observations back on track, or even behind schedule for the 2040 target.
This measure tracks housing proximity to transit at both rapid transit stations and high-frequency bus stops that have 96 or more departures per weekday, averaging one bus every 15 minutes. Housing near these locations is found within a half-mile of rapid transit stations or one quarter-mile of high-frequency bus stops. It is reported as a share of the region’s total housing.
The region is ahead of schedule to meet the 2040 target where 20% of all housing in the region is near high-frequency or rapid transit. The extent of rapid transit investments and high-frequency service has increased, leading to inclusion of a larger share of the region’s housing, and an increase in the amount of housing. These trends together result in a 23% increase above 2014 levels, while the increase regionwide was only 7% over the same period.
This measure tracks the proximity of employment to transit at both rapid transit stations and high-frequency bus stops with 96 or more departures per weekday, average one bus every 15 minutes. Employment near these locations is defined as being within a half-mile of rapid transit stations or one quarter-mile of high-frequency bus stops. It is reported as a share of the region’s total employment.
The region is ahead of schedule to meet the 2040 target where 45% of all employment is near high-frequency or rapid transit. The extent of rapid transit investments and high-frequency service has increased, leading to inclusion of a larger share of the region’s employment and increases in the availability of employment. These trends together result in a 16% increase above 2014 levels, while the increase regionwide was only 8% over the same period.
These measures are on the pace needed to achieve the 2040 target.
This measure tracks the share of the region’s housing located in urban centers. Urban centers are transit-, pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly places that contain a diverse mix of land uses and are denser than their surrounding areas. They are designed to allow people of all ages, incomes and abilities to access a range of housing, employment and services without sole reliance on driving. Urban centers are found throughout the region, and jurisdictions work with DRCOG to identify and designate them as such.
The region is on track to meet the 2040 target where 25% of all housing is in urban centers. Since the Great Recession, real estate investors have sought out this type of place as an opportunity for well-connected, multifamily housing construction. Collectively, urban centers have seen housing increase 14% above 2014 levels, while the increase for the entire region was only 7% over the same period.
Density can be more than just a measure of how efficiently we are using land in our region. The population-weighted approach to measuring density averages the density of all neighborhoods (census tracts), giving more weight to a neighborhood with more people. This variant of a standard population density measure recognizes that the region includes a diversity of urban, suburban and rural communities. It increases more when people settle in and near neighborhoods that are already well-settled.
The region is on track to meet the 2040 target of a 25% increase in population-weighted density. Between the 2000 and 2010 census, the region saw this density metric decline by 2%. Since that time, density has increased nearly 8%, matching the rate during the period between the 1990 and 2000 census.
While the region is adding fewer housing units than during past periods of significant population in-migration, the impacts of this growth may feel more acute because it is being observed and experienced by more people as a result of the region's growth in already populous neighborhoods (tracts).
This performance measure describes the difference in travel time between peak periods of the day such as rush hour, and off-peak travel, when there is less traffic. The DRCOG Congestion Mitigation Program database includes estimates of travel volumes based on observations at year-round monitoring sites and temporary traffic count locations. These volume estimates are compared to capacity to calculate travel time, or speed.
The region is on track to meet the 2040 target where the peak period travel time would cap at 1.3 times the average off-peak period travel time. While the baseline level was already below this target, DRCOG forecasts that travel will increase at a rate greater than that of the region’s ability to afford to expand the capacity of the transportation system. Efforts to reduce congestion seek to beat that forecast.
Between 2015 and 2016, the region added to its transportation system capacity. Two projects helped add capacity while mitigating congestion through managed lanes on U.S. Route 36 between Denver and Boulder, as well as Interstate 25 between 120th Avenue and State Highway 7.
Land protected from development by governmental agencies and conservation organizations is known as protected open space. These areas are used for recreation, provide wildlife habitat and can even remain economically productive as farming or ranching lands.
The region is on track to meet the 2040 target of 1,980 square miles of protected open space. To reach the target, the region needs to protect about 10 square miles of open space per year between the 2014 baseline and the 2040 target. Based on the DRCOG Parks, Recreation and Open Space dataset, which compiles protected open space data from local governments and other partners, the region was on that pace between 2014 and 2016.
Because the DRCOG Parks, Recreation and Open Space dataset is subject to continuous improvement, open space that gets added to the inventory may help advance the region toward its target, whether or not the open space was protected during that timeframe.
These measures are behind the pace needed to achieve 2040 target.
This measure tracks the share of the region’s employment located in urban centers. Urban centers are transit-, pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly places that contain a diverse mix of land uses and are denser than their surrounding areas; and are designed to allow people of all ages, incomes and abilities to access a range of housing, employment and services without sole reliance on having to drive. Urban centers are found throughout the region, and jurisdictions work with DRCOG to identify and designate them as such.
The region is behind schedule to meet the 2040 target where 50% of all employment is in urban centers. Since the Great Recession, the region has seen significant job growth. Many of these jobs are located in spaces throughout the region vacated during the recession. As a result, urban centers have seen employment increase 5% above 2014 levels, while the increase regionwide was 8% over the same period.
Many people commute to and from work alone: this is referred to as single-occupant vehicle or SOV travel. Increasing the share of non-SOV trips includes converting some of that travel to carpools, vanpools, transit trips, walking, biking or working from home.
The region is behind schedule to meet the 2040 target of having 35% of commuters use a travel mode other than a single-occupant vehicle to get to work. The observations remain level at just over 25%, as small changes remain within the American Community Survey’s margin of error. To be on track to hit the 2040 target, the region would have needed to see at least an increase to 26% by 2016. While the survey does report in absolute numbers that more commuters use modes other than a single-occupant vehicle to get to work, that has not been enough to expand the share.
This measure tracks the number of vehicle miles traveled on a per capita basis. The DRCOG Congestion Mitigation Program database reports this total average weekday VMT using estimates of travel volumes based on observations at year-round monitoring sites and temporary traffic count locations. This total is divided by the region’s population to derive the per capita metric.
The region is behind schedule to meet the 2040 target of a 10% decrease in vehicle miles traveled per capita each day from the 2010 baseline. After a downward trend between 2010 and 2013, this measure recorded two straight years of significant growth to lose all progress toward the target and move toward nearly a 1% increase over the 2010 baseline.
Reasons vehicle travel is increasing may include a flourishing regional economy, an increase in commercial activity and deliveries, an increase of ride-hailing vehicle travel, lower and stable fuel prices for the longest period since the 1980s and an increase in vehicle fuel economy.
This measure tracks the amount of time people spend in traffic. Person delay accounts for the total delay experienced by all vehicle occupants. The DRCOG Congestion Mitigation Program database reports this average weekday person travel delay on a per capita basis.
The region was behind schedule to meet the original 2040 target where each person’s travel delay, on average, would remain below ten minutes per day. Observations under the original measure data and methodology showed a rate of increase that was significantly higher than what the increase would need to be to remain below that target.
DRCOG now has better data to help understand delays. On-board vehicle speed data is now available for parts of the travel network, which can replace calculations about delay that are otherwise inferred from traffic counts. DRCOG established a new 2017 baseline and 2040 target to be used in reporting going forward.
This measure tracks the number of traffic-related fatalities, including automobile drivers, passengers in automobiles, motorcyclists, pedestrians and bicyclists. Information comes from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a federal database compiled from local law enforcement reports.
The region is behind schedule to meet the 2040 target of fewer than 100 traffic fatalities per year. The two observations since the 2014 baseline have gone in the wrong direction. While annual observations of traffic fatalities are subject to significant variation, looking back and averaging more observations only reveals a downward trend that would not put the region on track to meet the 2040 target.
Several local governments have taken on “Vision Zero” or “Towards Zero Deaths” initiatives to try and eliminate traffic fatalities. Similar work at the regional level could give DRCOG and its stakeholders a chance to further investigate this trend of increasing traffic fatalities.
Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Reducing these emissions can be achieved through cleaner and more efficient engines in trucks and automobiles, adding more alternative fuel vehicles to the region’s fleet and decreasing vehicle miles traveled. DRCOG and other partners estimate total greenhouse gas emissions using surface transportation sources based on modeling of vehicle travel, the mix of vehicle types on the roads, speeds and other factors. This is reported for an average weekday on a per capita basis.
The region is behind schedule to meet the 2040 target of a 60% decrease in surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions per capita from the 2010 baseline. Based on DRCOG’s most recent travel model results, there is a decrease between 2010 and 2015.
The forecast based on the most recent DRCOG travel model results anticipates less than a 40% per capita decrease in surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions per capita. It accounts for larger gains closer to 2040 as vehicle fuel efficiency improves.
This measure tracks the share of the region’s employment in areas that are known to be susceptible to wildfires and flooding. While certain types of businesses and jobs need to remain in these areas, growth in employment could be prioritized in areas outside these high-risk places, reducing the share of employment in high-risk areas as the region grows.
The region is behind schedule to meet the 2040 target where less than 2.5% of the region’s employment is in high-risk hazard areas. Based on the observations since the 2014 baseline, the share of the region’s employment found in these areas has increased.
Employment in the high-risk hazard areas increased by more than 5,200. This outpaced the increase across the region. Further investigation may reveal whether job growth occurring throughout this post-recession cycle of economic expansion has returned to locations where jobs were previously – including high-risk areas – or whether some are moving into high-risk areas where they were not previously.
These measures have data limitations preventing status determination.
This measure tracks the share of the region’s housing in areas that are known to be susceptible to wildfires and flooding. While existing residents may remain in these areas, growth in housing could be prioritized in areas outside these high-risk places, reducing the share of housing in high-risk areas as the region grows.
One should make no determination about progress toward the 2040 target where less than 1% of the region’s housing would be in high-risk hazard areas. The 2014 baseline share is small at just over 1%. Two subsequent observations show the measure remaining fairly level.
The housing data DRCOG employs to create these observations is subject to continuous enhancement. Recent changes have improved this data in areas where risk of hazards may be high, such as the region’s mountain areas and manufactured home parks. While most of the housing growth has happened outside these high-risk areas, these data improvements have helped keep the share level.
Learn more about the datasets used in DRCOG’s performance measures and find other sources for assessing the region’s progress toward its shared vision.
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