Comment 28882

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 20, 2009 at 13:41:34

I can answer Ryan's question: the model the City of Hamilton uses for traffic calculation (called ME2) would assume a fixed volume of traffic. It would not take into a account changes in traffic levels due to changes in congestion, signal timing, number of lanes etc. Traffic volumes would be inputted based on current measurements.

To account for changes in total traffic levels (e.g. motorists choosing alternate routes, travelling at different times or switching to other modes) would require either an agent-based system (which models transportation decisions by individual agents), or a manual reduction of traffic flow based on the expert knowledge of the user.

One other limitation of these systems is that they don't include cyclists or pedestrians as part of the traffic model.

Eric Miller's UTRAC group at the UofT is working on a fine grain agent-based system called TASHA (travel activity for household agents) that could actually predict changes in behaviour (like avoiding a particular street because of its higher traffic volumes, or switching to public transit), but it is still in the 'research' stage.

The bottom line: the traffic models currently used by Hamilton (and all other cities) are good at optimizing traffic flow given a fixed layout (e.g. by changing traffic light timing, adding turn lines), but they can't predict what will happen if the layout changes significantly (one-way to two-way conversion, lane removal, population growth).

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