Spatiotemporal Short-term Traffic Forecasting using the Network Weight Matrix and Systematic Detrending

Recent working paper:

LookBackWindowsThis study examines the dependency between traffic links using a three-dimensional data detrending algorithm to build a network weight matrix in a real-world example. The network weight matrix reveals how links are spatially dependent in a complex network and detects the competitive and complementary nature of traffic links. We model the traffic flow of 140 traffic links in a sub-network of the Minneapolis – St. Paul highway system for both rush hour and non-rush hour time intervals, and validate the extracted network weight matrix. The results of the modeling indi- cate: (1) the spatial weight matrix is unstable over time-of-day, while the network weight matrix is robust in all cases and (2) the performance of the network weight matrix in non-rush hour traffic regimes is significantly better than rush hour traffic regimes. The results of the validation show the network weight matrix outperforms the traditional way of capturing spatial dependency between traffic links. Averaging over all traffic links and time, this superiority is about 13.2% in rush hour and 15.3% in non-rush hour, when only the 1st -order neighboring links are embedded in modeling. Aside from the superiority in forecasting, a remarkable capability of the network weight matrix is its stability and robustness over time, which is not observed in spatial weight matrix. In addition, this study proposes a naïve two-step algorithm to search and identify the best look-back time win- dow for upstream links. We indicate the best look-back time window depends on the travel time between two study detectors, and it varies by time-of-day and traffic link.

Accessibility Oriented Development

Recent working paper:

AoDMunicipal governments worldwide have been pursuing transit-oriented development (TOD) strategies in order to increase transit ridership, curb traffic congestion, and rejuvenate urban neighborhoods. In many cities, however, development of planned sites around transit stations has been close to non-existent, due to, among other reasons, a lack of coordination between transit investments and land use at the regional scale. Furthermore, the ability to access transit differs from the ability to access destinations that people care about. Reframing transit-oriented development as accessibility-oriented development (AOD) can aid the process of creating functional connections between neighborhoods and the rest of the region, and maximize benefits from transport investments. AOD is a strategy that balances accessibility to employment and the labor force in order to foster an environment conducive to development. AOD areas are thus defined as having higher than average accessibility to employment opportunities and/or the labor force; such accessibility levels are expected to increase the quality of life of residents living in these areas by reducing their commute time and encouraging faster economic development. To quantify the benefits of AOD, accessibility to employment and the labor force are calculated in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Canada in 2001 and 2011. Cross-sectional and temporal regressions are then performed to predict average commute times and development occurring in AOD areas and across the region. Results show that AOD neighborhoods with high accessibility to jobs and low accessibility to the labor force have the lowest commute times in the region, while the relationship also holds for changes in average commute time between the studied time periods. In addition, both accessibility to jobs and accessibility to the labor force are associated with changes in development, as areas with high accessibility to jobs and the labor force attract more development. In order to realize the full benefits of planned transit investments, planning professionals and policy makers alike should therefore leverage accessibility as a tool to direct development in their cities, and concentrate on developing neighbourhoods with an AOD approach in mind.

An empirical study of the deviation between actual and shortest travel time paths

Shortest distance and time route vs. actual route for one person on one day.
Shortest distance and time route vs. actual route for one person on one day.

Recent working paper:

Few empirical studies of revealed route characteristics have been reported in the literature. This study challenges the widely applied shortest-path assumption by evaluating routes followed by residents of the Minneapolis–St. Paul metropolitan area, as measured by the GPS Component of the 2010 Twin Cities Travel Behavior Inventory conducted by the Metropolitan Council. It finds that most travelers used paths longer than the shortest path. This is in part a function of trip distance, trip circuity, number of turns, and age of the driver. Some reasons for these findings are conjectured.

Stochastic Congestion and Pricing Model with Endogenous Departure Time Selection and Heterogeneous Travelers

Recently published:

  • Xin, Wuping and David Levinson (2015) Stochastic Congestion and Pricing Model with Endogenous Departure Time Selection and Heterogeneous Travelers. Mathematical Population Studies. Volume 22, Issue 1, 2015, pages 37- 52
    Published online: 11 Feb 2015 [doi] [Paywall, but free copy here] [This is part of a special issue on Risk and Uncertainty in Urban and Transport Economics]

    Abstract: In a stochastic roadway congestion and pricing model, one scheme (omniscient pricing) relies on the full knowledge of each individual journey cost and of early and late penalties of the traveler. A second scheme (observable pricing) is based on observed queuing delays only. Travelers are characterized by late-acceptance levels. The effects of various late-acceptance levels on congestion patterns with and without pricing are compared through simulations. The omniscient pricing scheme is most effective in suppressing the congestion at peak hours and in distributing travel demands over a longer time horizon. Heterogeneity of travelers reduces congestion when pricing is imposed, and congestion pricing becomes more effective when cost structures are diversified rather than identical. Omniscient pricing better reduces the expected total social cost; however, more travelers improve welfare individually with observable pricing. The benefits of a pricing scheme depend on travelers’ cost structures and on the proportion of late-tolerant, late-averse, and late-neutral travelers in the population.

    Keywords: commute, congestion pricing, omniscient and observable pricing schemes, road pricing, second-best pricing, social cost and individual welfare, stochastic network equilibrium, traveler departure patterns

(Personal note. This paper was first submitted in 2005. Revised and accepted in 2007, and published in 2015. Sadly this tops my previous record for the longest a paper has taken, which had gone to Ramp Metering and Freeway Bottleneck Capacity at 7 years.  My thanks to my co-author for his infinite patience. However, this is theory, rather than empirical, and so we have not been trumped by other research.)

Accessibility and the Allocation of Time: Changes in Travel Behavior 1990-2010

Congratulations to Martin Brosnan for successfully completing his MS Thesis: Accessibility and the Allocation of Time: Changes in Travel Behavior 1990-2010. He is now a consultant with CDM Smith in Illinois.

Martin Brosnan
Martin Brosnan

Using detailed travel surveys conducted by the Metropolitan Council of the Minneapolis/Saint Paul region for 1990, 2000-2001, and 2010-2011, this study analyses journey-to- work times, activity allocation and accessibility. The analysis shows a decline in the time people spend outside of their homes as well as the time people spend in travel over the past decade. Although distances per trip are increasing, the willingness to make trips is declining, resulting in fewer kilometers traveled and less time allocated to travel. This study finds accessibility to be a significant factor in commute durations. Accessibility and commute duration have large effects on the amount of time spent at work therefore activity patterns are influenced by transportation and the urban environment.

Accessibility and the choice of network investments in the London Underground

Congratulations to David Giacomin for completing his MS Thesis: Accessibility and the choice of network investments in the London Underground. He is now a consultant for Kimley-Horn in Nevada.

David Giacomin
David Giacomin

 

In 1863, the Metropolitan Railway of what came to be known as the London Underground successfully opened as the world’s first subway. Its high ridership spawned interest in additional links. Entrepreneurs secured funding and then proposed new lines to Parliament for approval, though only a portion were actually approved. While putative rail barons may have conducted some economic analysis, the final decision lay with Parliament, which did not have available modern transportation economic or geographic analysis tools. How good were the decisions that Parliament made in approving Underground Lines? This paper explores the role accessibility played on the decision to approve or reject proposed early London Tube Schemes.

Indifference Bands for Route Switching

Recent working paper:

Di, X, Liu, H, Zhu, S, and Levinson, D. (2014) Indifference Bands for Route Switching

Frequency of Switchers and Stayers vs. Travel Time Saving Percentage
Frequency of Switchers and Stayers vs. Travel Time Saving Percentage
  • Abstract: The replacement I-35W bridge in Minneapolis saw less traffic than the original bridge though it provided substantial travel time saving for many travelers. This observation cannot be explained by the classical route choice assumption that travelers always take the shortest path. Accordingly, a boundedly rational route switching model is proposed assuming that travelers will not switch to the new bridge unless travel time saving goes beyond a threshold or “indifference band”. To validate the boundedly rational route switching assumption, route choices of 78 subjects from a GPS travel behavior study were analyzed before and after the addition of the new I-35W bridge. Indifference bands are estimated for both commuters who were previously bridge users and those who never had the experience of using the old bridge. This study offers the first empirical estimation of bounded rationality parameters from GPS data and provides guidelines for traffic assignment.
    Keywords: Route Choice, Travel Demand Modeling, Bounded Rationality, Indifference Band, GPS Study, Travel Behavior, Networks

Alternative High Occupancy/Toll Lane Pricing Strategies and their Effect on Market Share

Recent working paper:

Janson, M. and Levinson, D. (2014) Alternative High Occupancy/Toll Lane Pricing Strategies and their Effect on Market Share

Price vs. Density
Price vs. Density
  • High Occupancy/Toll (HOT) Lanes typically charge a varying to single occupant vehicles (SOVs), with the toll increasing during more congested periods. The toll is usually tied to time of day or to the density of vehicles in the HOT lane. The purpose of raising the toll with congestion is to discourage demand enough to maintain a high level of service (LOS) in the HOT lane. Janson and Levinson (2014) demonstrated that the HOT toll may act as a signal of downstream congestion (in both general purpose (GP) and HOT lanes), causing an increase in demand for the HOT lane, at least at lower prices. This paper builds off that research and explores alternative HOT lane pricing strategies, including the use of GP density as a factor in price to more accurately reflect the value of the HOT lane. In addition, the paper explores the potential effect these strategies would have on the HOT lane vehicle share through a partial equilibrium analysis. This analysis demonstrates the change in demand elasticity with price, showing the point at which drivers switch from a positive to negative elasticity.

Accessibility and the choice of network investments in the London Underground

Recent working paper:

Levinson, D., Giacomin, D., and Badsey-Ellis, A. (2014) Accessibility and the choice of network investments in the London Underground. Presented at the World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research, June 2014, at Delft.

Accessibility in London in 1881
Accessibility in London in 1881

 

 

  • Abstract: In 1863, the Metropolitan Railway of what came to be known as the London Underground successfully opened as the world’s first subway. Its high ridership spawned interest in additional links. Entrepreneurs secured funding and then proposed new lines to Parliament for approval, though only a portion were actually approved. While putative rail barons may have conducted some economic analysis, the final decision lay with Parliament, which did not have available modern transportation economic or geographic analysis tools. How good were the decisions that Parliament made in approving Underground Lines? This paper explores the role accessibility played on the decision to approve or reject proposed early London Tube Schemes. It finds that maximizing accessibility to population (highly correlated with revenue and ridership) largely explains Parliamentary approvals and rejections.
    Keywords: Accessibility, Network Growth, Subways, Public Transport, Travel Behavior, Networks