Central Texas transportation organization stacks its population projections up against U.S. Census data

The CAMPO models revealed a 1% difference between 2020 U.S. Census data and the agency’s projections. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
The CAMPO models revealed a 1% difference between 2020 U.S. Census data and the agency’s projections. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

The CAMPO models revealed a 1% difference between 2020 U.S. Census data and the agency’s projections. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

As the 2020 U.S. Census data emphatically showed, the population in Central Texas boomed over the past decade. With that in mind, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization investigated how its own data around the region’s growth compared with the census data.

CAMPO documents revealed that the planning organization’s travel demand model overestimated population growth in 2020 by around 1% but underestimated growth by 8% in 2025, compared to U.S. Census data.

Greg Lancaster, CAMPO’s travel demand modeling manager, said that the CAMPO model and U.S. Census data do not perfectly match up, as CAMPO has released projections for 2015, 2025, 2035 and, most recently, 2045.

“I want you to notice over here that the travel demand model does not have a 2020 forecast,” Lancaster said during CAMPO’s Oct. 11 board meeting.

Instead, Lancaster's model assumed growth would be consistent, or linear, from 2015 to 2020, with 2045 as the base year. Similarly, for a 2025 U.S. Census data projection, he said that he used a linear growth rate.


The CAMPO projections play an important role in identifying transportation projects throughout the Central Texas region, CAMPO Executive Director Ashby Johnson said.

“[The projections] are used to give estimations of future travel demand across the region. They are used by organizations like [the Texas Department of Transportation] to make estimations of the future project need,” Johnson said. “Also, the numbers are used by Capital Metro to make estimates of future ridership demand on the transit system.”


By Benton Graham

Metro Reporter, Austin

Benton joined Community Impact Newspaper as a metro reporter covering transportation in Central Texas in June 2021. Benton's writing has appeared in Vox, The Austin Chronicle, Austonia and Reporting Texas. Originally from Minneapolis, Benton graduated from William & Mary and eventually moved to Austin in 2018.



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