Research image, photo of glasses on open book


To carry out its core missions, MAG conducts extensive research to drive its planning and policy-making activities.


MAG funds and conducts primary quantitative and qualitative research to determine transportation trends, behaviors, and priorities. This information is used to determine effects on transportation plans and projects. One such project is MAG’s Household Travel Survey. This is a study of 7,000 Maricopa County households to identify demographics, travel routines and transportation behaviors. The data provides information on the daily travel of residents in Maricopa County and the surrounding areas to determine how to enhance public transportation, improve roads, reduce traffic congestion, and better walking and bicycle paths.

photo of a saguaro cactusAir quality modeling studies determine the conformity of transportation plans, programs, and projects. Regional air quality modeling work is conducted by MAG for carbon monoxide, ozone, and particulate matter. The modeling process involves a broad range of technical processes and research. This includes the development of emissions inventories, validation of modeling procedures, and simulation of future air quality conditions. Effectively maintained, updated, and enhanced models produce essential data regarding the pollution problem in Maricopa County and facilitate effective regional air quality planning.

MAG relies on socioeconomic modeling and research to develop population projections for the region. Applied research is also an important factor in economic development efforts. Research includes cross-border studies on how to connect small and medium sized businesses to those in Mexico and Canada, as well as research examining how tourism dollars could be increased in Arizona with the extension of the border crossing card zone from the current 75-mile limit to the entire state.

photo of freeway trafficMAG has used data from the Maricopa County annual trip reduction survey to better understand commuting patterns and commute “sheds” (the areas workers travel from home to work). The trip reduction survey data includes more than 500,000 surveys of employees with companies that have 50 or more workers. Mapping where a community’s residents work and live provides a visual picture of regional commute patterns.

Research is a key component of our human services planning efforts, such as research regarding the need for domestic violence shelters and evaluations of criminal justice procedures. The Human Services Division conducts applied research in areas such as aging, domestic violence, and homelessness. The data generated through surveys and other research activities informs regional planning and leads to the development of new projects and initiatives. For example, a scientifically valid survey of people 55 years plus shaped the development of the Arizona Age-Friendly Network.

MAG serves the region's data needs through a variety of tools and services. This includes an online data center, interactive mapping tools, and extensive committee work to analyze data as it applies to the creation of public policy. MAG's research is regularly cited in national journals and is used by national agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency to develop and fine tune models used throughout the country. MAG's research is often applied in broad regional contexts. These include efforts conducted in partnership with other metropolitan planning organizations, and in specific applications such as national Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) grants, as well as in local policies and initiatives. In addition, MAG staff is represented on Standing Committees of the Transportation Research Board, a part of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, in membership and leadership roles.