Macro-simulation: transport models

Software platforms that assist planners in the determination, measurement or estimation of diverse transport factors and the impacts derived from new infrastructure.  Macro-simulation analyses mobility at a city or metropolitan level in combined way. They are useful for analysing the overall impact and performance of major transport infrastructure: railway, underground stations, major interchanges, highways, etc.

–   Based on powerful software, models simulate the transport system’s operation, as well as people’s travel choices and behaviour at present or in the future.

–   They help to estimate the benefits and disadvantages of potential interventions, regardless of whether they involve new supply and services or there are changes in the characteristics of population or city environments.

–   Macro-simulation analyses mobility at a city or metropolitan level in a combined way: they do not track individual vehicles or passenger behaviours. They are useful for analysing the overall impact and performance of major transport infrastructure: railway, underground stations, major interchanges, highways, etc.

Software platforms take into account relevant network attributes such as capacity, speed limit, flows and density.


NODES strategic objectiveContribution
Enhance accessibility and integration 0
Enhance intermodality +
Enhance liveability 0
Increase safety and security conditions +
Increase economic viability and costs efficiency ++
Stimulate local economy +
Increase environmental efficiency ++
Increase energy efficiency ++

Good practice

This tool is very common worldwide – nowadays it is almost compulsory for justifying major infrastructure investments. As a result, it has been used in countless studies and projects by transport planners. Detroit Metropolitan Area Traffic Study is considered as the ground-breaking application.

Application in NODES sites:

This tool has been tested by the NODES sites in Reading, Budapest and Thessaloniki.

The three teams agree that this is a very demanding task. It is expensive to provide and maintain the model. Also, a team of experts is required to interpret the results.

Thessaloniki highlights the fact that it can be recommended “only in case it already exists and only for medium to large interchange projects”. “Generally it wouldn’t be appropriate to build such a tool from scratch, with the exception of a very large interchange. Its cost/benefit ratio is also affected by the existence of skilled staff to utilise its full potential.”

However, Reading reckons that “modelling on a macro scale can be very important when large-scale developments take place or when major changes to the transport network are planned”.

This tool has been rated as a 3-star (***) tool.


Potential interchange performance improvement

Estimating the future demand and utility of an interchange is crucial:

–  To understand its viability.

–  To optimise the size and service of the new facility.

– To value the necessary investment.


Resources

–  A team of experts is required during the process and for the interpretation of results.

– Software licence.

– The volume of data needed is really high and usually involves an expensive, major home-based survey.

References

McNALLY (2007)  “The four step model” Institute of Transportation Studies. University of California, Irvine  (available online)

PAPAIOANNOU, POLITIS & BASBAS (2008)  “The Role of Transport Planning Software Tools, on Modelling Transport Systems and Evaluating Their Performance”, 3rd International Conference: From Scientific Computing to Computational Engineering, 3rd IC-SCCE, Laboratory of Fluid Mechanics and Energy, University of Patras, 9-12 July 2008, Athens, Greece, pp 1-9

Main software products and providers:

– Cube Voyager, by Citilabs

– Emme, by INRO

– TransCAD, by Caliper

Visum, by PTV