|dc.description.abstract||Travel time is one of the important transportation performance measures, and represents the quality of service for most of the facilities. In other words, one of the essential goals of any traffic treatment is to reduce the average travel time. Therefore, extensive work has been done to measure, estimate, and predict travel time. Using historical observations, traditional traffic analysis methods try to calibrate empirical models to estimate the average travel time of different transportation facilities. However, real-time traffic responsive management strategies require that estimates of travel time also be available in real-time. As a result, real time estimation and prediction of travel time has attracted increasing attention. Various factors influence the travel time of a road segment including: road geometry, traffic demand, traffic control devices, weather conditions, driving behaviors, and incidents. Consequently, the travel time of a road segment varies as a result of the variation of the influencing factors.
Predicting near-future freeway traffic conditions is challenging, especially when traffic conditions are in transition from one state to another (e.g. changing from free flow conditions to congestion and vice versa). This research aims to develop a method to perform real-time prediction of near-future freeway traffic stream characteristics (namely speed) and that relies on spot speed, volume, and occupancy measurements commonly available from loop detectors or other similar traffic sensors.
The framework of this study consists of a set of individual modules. The first module is called the Base Predictor. This module provides prediction for traffic variables while state of the traffic remains constant i.e free flow or congested. The Congestion Detection Module monitors the traffic state at each detector station of the study route to identify whether traffic conditions are congested or uncongested. When a congestion condition is detected, the Traffic Propagation Module is activated to update the prediction results of the Steady-State Module. The Traffic Propagation Module consists of two separate components: Congestion Spillback activates when traffic enters a congested state; Congestion Dissipation is activated when a congested state enters a recovery phase.
The proposed framework of this study is calibrated and evaluated using data from an urban expressway in the City of Toronto, Canada. Data were obtained from the westbound direction of the Gardiner Expressway which has a fixed posted speed limit of 90 km/hr. This expressway is equipped with mainline dual loop detector stations. Traffic volume, occupancy and speed are collected every 20 seconds for each lane at all the stations. The data set used in this study was collected over the period from January 2009 to December 2011.
For the Steady-State Module, a model based on Kalman filter was developed to predict the near future traffic conditions (speed, flow, and occupancy) at the location of fixed point detectors (i.e. loop detector in this study). Traffic propagation was proposed to be predicted based on either a static or dynamic traffic pattern. In the static pattern it was assumed that traffic conditions can be attributed based on the observed conditions in the same time of day; however, in the dynamic pattern, expected traffic conditions are estimated based on the current measurements of upstream and downstream detectors. The prediction results were compared to a naïve method, and it was shown that the average prediction error during the “change period” when traffic conditions are changing from free flow to congestion and vice versa is significantly lower when compared to the naïve method for the sample locations (approximately 25% improvement)
For the Traffic Propagation Module, a model has been developed to predict the speed of backward forming and forward recovery shockwaves. Unlike classic shockwave theory which is deterministic, the proposed model expresses the spillback and recovery as a stochastic process. The transition probability matrix is defined as a function of traffic occupancy on upstream and downstream stations in a Markov framework. Then, the probability of spillback and recovery was computed given the traffic conditions. An evaluation using field data has shown that the proposed stochastic model performs better than a classical shockwave model in term of correctly predicting the occurrence of backward forming and forward recovery shockwaves on the field data from the urban expressway. A procedure has been proposed to improve the prediction error of a time series model (Steady-State Module) by using the results of the proposed Markov model. It has been shown that the combined procedure significantly reduces the prediction error of the time series model.
For the real-time application of the proposed shockwave model, a module (Congestion Detection Module) is required to simultaneously work with the shockwave model, and identify the state of the traffic based on the available measurements. A model based on Support Vector Machine (SVM) was developed to estimate the current traffic state based on the available information from a fixed point detector. A binary model for the traffic state was considered i.e. free follow versus congested conditions. The model was shown to perform better compared to a Naïve model. The classification model was utilized to inform the Traffic Propagation Module. The combined model showed significant improvement in prediction error of traffic speed during the “Change Period” when traffic conditions are changing from free flow to congestion and vice versa.
Variability of travel speed in the near future was also investigated in this research. A continuous-time Markov model has been developed to predict the state of the traffic for the near future. Four traffic states were considered to characterize the state of traffic: two free flow states, one transition state, and one congested state. Using the proposed model, we are able to predict the probability of the traffic being in each of the possible states in the near future based on the current traffic conditions. The predicted probabilities then were utilized to characterize the expected distribution of traffic speed. Based on historical observations, the distribution of traffic speed was characterized for each traffic state separately. Given these empirical distributions and the predicted probabilities, distribution of traffic speed was predicted for the near future. The distribution of traffic speed then was used to predict a confidence interval for the near future. The confidence interval can be used to identify the expected range of future speeds at a given confidence level.||en