Micro-simulation consists of software platforms that assist planners on the determination, measurement or estimation of diverse transport factors and the impacts derived from new infrastructure at a very detailed level of analysis: an intersection, an open area, the section of a road, a complex indoor space, etc.

Micro-simulation models simulate the characteristics and interactions of individual vehicles or people. The level of analysis is usually an intersection, section of road or complex space. This simulation has procedures and rules for vehicle acceleration, lane-changing and passing manoeuvres, as well as for pedestrian movements.

Micro-simulation can deal with vehicles, people (crowd) or interaction between both.

The micro-simulation models are effective in evaluating changes to lane and intersection geometry, as well as spatial configuration and design. Therefore, they can be used for the assessment of the “hinterland” of the interchange.

However, due to the very detailed scale, this tool is not appropriate for the analysis of large areas.

NODES strategic objectiveContribution
Enhance accessibility and integration ++
Enhance intermodality ++
Enhance liveability +
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 and has been used in many projects.

A variety of case studies can be found at software websites (see References), such as Legion, or leading companies such as Atkins . A good case to check is Oxford Circus Diagonal crossings (video).

Application in NODES sites:

The cities of Reading (UK) and Budapest (Hungary) have tested this tool. Both considered the tool “relevant and useful, but expensive” (Reading), even “spectacular” (Budapest).

Despite its high costs, Reading remarks that: it represents a substantial saving in terms of works followed by rectifying works and other time and costs such as re-registering buses and their stops. Similarly in the future any changes proposed to respond to further increases in passenger numbers can be tested while they are at the design stage, thus minimising disruption and avoiding works which then need further adjustments.

Other interesting comments include:

– The videos are easily understood and ideal to use in presentations to the public, politicians and any stakeholders who are not technically minded.

– The tool is multimodal and brings all the modelling techniques together.

– The resources implied may recommend using consultants who already have the technical expertise and access to the software, although there still will be costs associated with using the consultancy.

Budapest and Reading rated this tool as a 4-star (****) tool.

Potential interchange performance improvement

Estimating the future use of the interchange, according to traveller behaviour and individual vehicles movements is crucial:

–    To understand the implication of design and spatial configuration, the good use of spaces and infrastructure and the distribution and interaction of flows.

–    Consequently, to identify points of potential conflict.

–    To evaluate and compare different scenarios.

This tool can perform well with a) vehicles, b) people (crowd) or c) interaction of both.


–   Human resources: an expert in this software is required during the process and for the interpretation of results.

–   Costs assigned to authority in charge of physical planning/design.

–  All costs usually fall upon the transport authority, planners or consultants in charge of the study.


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, p.p.1-9


Main software products and providers include:


– Legion
Viswalk, by PTV
MassMotion, by Oasis


Vissim, by PTV
Cube Dynasim, by Citilabs
– Transmodeler, by Caliper