The different types of TRICS surveys including how to commission SAM travel plan surveys.

Standardised Assessment Methodology

SAM has been developed by TRICS® as a system that assists travel plan monitoring by undertaking multi-modal transport surveys as and when these are directly requested by organisations. SAM incorporates our multi-modal methodology with additional descriptive information on a site’s travel plan. This section of our website provides background information on SAM plus a guidance note that explains the full SAM survey commissioning process, which can be freely downloaded and distributed.

TRICS Consortium Limited are pleased to offer free in-person presentations at TRICS user offices that detail the various stages of the process of commissioning TRICS Standardised Assessment Methodology (SAM) surveys.

In recent years the number of commissioned SAM surveys has increased significantly, and current indications are that this trend is set to continue. SAM surveys are usually commissioned as a result of local authority planning conditions, which state that a TRICS survey using the SAM methodology is to be undertaken (often with repeat surveys over a period of time) as a way monitoring a development’s Travel Plan. These multi-modal surveys with Travel Plan information were first introduced in 2005, and for 2023 TRICS has overhauled the Travel Plan data section so that it includes the most up to date and relevant information, with this section now split between residential and non-residential development types. These revisions were first launched at the 2022 TRICS User Meeting, and members of the TRICS Community now have the opportunity to arrange presentations that provide screenshot examples of how the data will look and what it consists of.

These presentations will go through the whole SAM survey commissioning process, covering the following sections:

  • Initial client enquiries
  • Raising and signing a TRICS Survey Agreement
  • Undertaking a site visit
  • Producing a TRICS survey specification
  • Providing a final quote to the client and requesting authorisation
  • Survey preparations following formal commissioning
  • Undertaking the survey
  • Post-survey data processing by the contractor
  • Data input and validation of survey data by TRICS
  • Provision of final TRICS outputs and Certificate of Compliance to the client

The presentations will be particularly helpful to any organisations that may commission SAM surveys in the future or have already done so, as well as being applicable to local authorities who are tasked with applying planning conditions requesting SAM surveys (and who audit their results). The presentations would take around 60-90 minutes (including questions), and would be undertaken by Ian Coles, the Project Manager at TRICS Consortium Limited. We would ask that any organisation that wishes to hold a presentation has a projector and screen available. Arrangements can be made to run the presentation off a laptop belonging to the user organisation, or we can bring our own (we would need the user organisation to supply a HDMI cable in such instances).

As mentioned at the beginning, there will be no charge for these sessions. Therefore, should any organisation be interested in one taking place at their offices, they are invited to contact Ian Coles directly at

Without a robust monitoring programme there is a risk that a travel plan will become a static document unamended over time to best suit the needs of a development. Robust monitoring should be a key element of any travel plan. Without a monitoring programme it can be difficult to establish what the positive and negative elements of a travel plan are.

Local authorities can determine planning conditions that require a series of travel plan monitoring surveys using the TRICS® SAM process. The length of time over which monitoring occurs and the frequency of monitoring surveys will depend on the nature and scale of the development and the policies of the local authority, and should be agreed as part of travel plan arrangements with the developer and/or qualifying body for neighbourhood planning. Whoever has responsibility for ensuring the compliance of such planning conditions should also be made clear.

The data section within a TRICS® SAM site includes a sub-section on travel plan targets, which can often be compared with multi-modal results at the surveyed sites to see if such targets are being met.

An example within a local authority planning condition may be a request that a TRICS® SAM survey is undertaken at a development at years 1, 3 and 5 of the life of a travel plan. However, this will of course vary depending on the local authority’s policies, so this is just one example that has been used.

Here is an example of some text that could potentially be used in a planning condition for the implementation of a travel plan, which has been provided by Surrey County Council.

“Prior to the occupation of the development a Travel Plan shall be submitted for the written approval of the Local Planning Authority in accordance with the sustainable development aims and objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework, Surrey County Council’s “Travel Plans Good Practice Guide”, and in general accordance with the 'Heads of Travel Plan' document (if appropriate, specify).

And then the approved Travel Plan shall be implemented (trigger point to be added on site specific basis) and for each and every subsequent occupation of the development, thereafter maintain and develop the Travel Plan to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority.”

The following example could be potentially used to instruct a TRICS® SAM survey. Again, it has been supplied by Surrey County Council.

“The Developer would be expected to instruct an independent transportation data collection company to undertake the monitoring survey. This survey must conform to a TRICS® Multi-Modal Survey format consistent with the UK Standard for Measuring Travel Plan Impacts as approved by the Highway Authority. To ensure that the survey represents typical travel patterns, the organisation taking ownership of the travel plan will need to agree to being surveyed only within a specified annual quarter period but with no further notice of the precise survey dates. The Developer would be expected to fund the survey validation and data entry costs.”

Upon a TRICS® survey agreement being signed and a purchase order supplied for the fixed £639 + VAT site visit and survey specification fee, a site visit of a development that is to be surveyed is undertaken by a member of the TRICS® team to assess survey requirements. During this visit a variety of factors are assessed, so that a detailed TRICS survey specification can be produced. Some of these factors include the following:

  • Site boundary integrity.
  • Site parking provision, both on-site and off-site.
  • Local public transport accessibility.
  • Total number of access points (vehicular and multi-modal).
  • Potential for “through-trips”, parking by non-site users, and any other special conditions.
  • The need for direct observations, interviews, and head counts.
  • Total number of enumerator locations required at any one time.
  • Survey requirements of each individual enumerator location.

Following a site visit, a comprehensive individual multi-modal TRICS® survey specification is produced, detailing the exact requirements of the survey which can then be forwarded to one of our TRICS®-approved data collection contractors. A specification will include the following:

  • The location of the site and its TRICS® land use classification.
  • Details on type of survey and its duration.
  • The required combination of observational counts and interviews.
  • Specific detail on any interviews required.
  • Instructions for each individual enumerator position.
  • Instructions on any special survey conditions required.
  • Photographs of site accesses and anything else relevant to the survey.
Once a quote for undertaking all work associated with a SAM project has been accepted by a client, and a purchase order provided to TRICS®, a TRICS® SAM survey is then undertaken by one of our TRICS®-approved data collection contractors, following the detailed instructions contained within our survey specification, which are in turn derived from our long-established multi-modal methodology. The raw survey data is then processed by our contractor, and our data collection forms are then populated and forward to TRICS®, including all supporting site, development, parking and travel plan information (some of which is obtained by the contractor communicating directly with the client organisation that commissioned the survey). We have produced data collection guidance notes for both our contractors and clients commissioning SAM surveys that can assist in the understanding of the information that is required to fully populate a TRICS® site record.

Once a data collection form for a SAM survey is received by TRICS® (and is populated in full), this data is input by the TRICS® team, and is subject to the very highest standards of validation and testing, using a structured process of scrutiny that has been developed and improved over many years. This validation process involves producing a list of queries and requests for clarification, which are then forwarded to the TRICS®-approved data collection contractor who undertook the survey. Each of our validation points is then answered by the contractor (often requiring further clarification from the commissioning client), and only when all survey data meets our standards, with all validation points answered, is the survey considered to be fully TRICS®-compliant (and therefore the finalised outputs are ready to be forwarded to the client and the data can be added to the TRICS® database at the time of the system’s next update).

The costs of TRICS® SAM surveys vary according to numerous factors, including the scale of a development, the survey complexity and duration (typically 12 hours or greater), the number of access points that need to be covered, and the number of enumerator staff that would be needed to fulfil the requirements of the survey specification.

Site visit & survey specification: £639 + VAT

TRICS® will:

  • Visit the site to ascertain survey requirements.
  • Produce a detailed TRICS® survey specification.
  • Provide a quote to the client for all work associated with the project.
Total survey project cost: Usually within a range of £2,500 - £8,500 + VAT depending on the complexity and scale of a development

(and potentially greater than £8,500 + VAT for large new community developments)

TRICS® will:

  • Visit the site (upon receipt of a purchase order for the initial site visit and survey specification fee)
  • Manage the whole process from start to end.
  • Visit the site to ascertain survey requirements.
  • Produce a detailed TRICS® survey specification.
  • Provide a quote to the client for all work associated with the project.
  • Upon authorisation from the client (and receipt of a purchase order for the total survey fees) undertake the survey.
  • Input the survey data and put it through validation testing.
  • Upon validation being completed supply the finalised outputs to the client.
  • Provide a certificate of TRICS®-compliance to the client.

SAM Surveys

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L1 Data Input Only


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L2 Data Input Only


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L3 Data Input Only


We operate a paperless invoicing system to help the environment and reduce our carbon footprint. If you require paper copies of invoices to be sent to you via Royal Mail you will be charged an additional “Postage and Handling” fee.

Vehicles Only

A TRICS® survey that records only vehicular trips to and from a development is also known as a Level 1 survey. Covering all vehicular access points (plus any other accesses that can be used by cyclists), inbound and outbound activity is recorded by period throughout the survey’s duration, split by the following count types:

  • Total Vehicles (all below count types combined except Pedal Cycles and scooters)
  • Cars
  • Taxis
  • Motorcycles
  • Light Goods Vehicles (LGV)
  • Heavy Goods Vehicles (OGV)
  • Public Service Vehicles (PSV)
  • Pedal Cycles
  • Scooters

If off-site parking takes place for visiting a site being surveyed, interviews of pedestrians entering and exiting the site will be necessary, to ensure that all such activity is also included in the inbound and outbound counts by vehicle type.


A TRICS® survey that records vehicular trips plus all trips by non-vehicular modes, to and from a development, is also known as a Level 2 survey. Covering all points of access for all modes, inbound and outbound activity is recorded by period throughout the survey’s duration, split by the following count types:

Vehicle count types and cyclists

  • Total Vehicles (all vehicular counts below except Pedal Cycles and scooters)
  • Cars
  • Taxis
  • Motorcycles
  • Light Goods Vehicles (LGV)
  • Heavy Goods Vehicles (OGV)
  • Public Service Vehicles (PSV)
  • Pedal Cycles
  • Scooters

Non-vehicular count types

  • Total People (all below count types combined plus Pedal Cycles)
  • Vehicle Occupants
  • Pedestrians
  • Public Transport Users (in turn split between the following sub-types):
    • Bus Passengers
    • National Rail Passengers
    • Coach Passengers

Note that for multi-modal TRICS surveys in Greater London the Public Transport Users sub-counts include the following:

  • Bus Passengers
  • National Rail Passengers
  • Underground Passengers
  • Overground Passengers
  • Docklands Light Railway (DLR) Passengers
  • Water Service Passengers

If off-site parking takes place for visiting a site being surveyed, interviews of pedestrians entering and exiting the site will be necessary, to ensure that all such activity is also included in the inbound and outbound counts by vehicle type.

It is also important to note that TRICS® always records the main mode of transport for each trip (determined by distance).

Approved Suppliers

TRICS®-approved data collection contractors undertake our annual regional programme of surveys along with independently commissioned TRICS® SAM surveys. Our current list of approved suppliers is as follows:

  • MHTC Limited
  • CTS Traffic and Transportation Limited
  • Alpha Parking
  • Kevin McShane Limited
  • MHC Traffic
  • Smart Transport Hub
  • Kestrel Surveys

To become a TRICS®-approved data collection contractor, an organisation and TRICS® hold an initial meeting where the processes of TRICS® are explained, and then some further administrative information is required from the organisation to technically get onto our books. A trial TRICS® survey is then arranged, so that the potential new data supplier can go through the technical processes required for the undertaking and validation of a survey. Upon the validation process being successfully completed, the organisation may then be invited to express an interest in the subsequent annual TRICS® regional data collection programme.