Highways Voices hears how transport modelling the key understanding the new shape of traffic

The latest Highways Voices podcast from Highways News has heard why transport modelling is key to making the most of the growth in traffic data that is being gathered to understand changes in patterns due to the Coronavirus crisis. Listen here.

Guest Darren Capes from the Department for Transport explains a data project he’s overseen for the Transport Technology Forum which analyses data gathered from more than a hundred local authorities.

“I think the snapshots are increasingly useful, we now have nearly a year’s worth of data,” he tells the podcast. “So not only we’re able to see what’s happening and how lockdown is affecting trade and travel and daily life, but we’re also able to make some interesting comparisons between pre-lockdown or between what’s happened in the various ones. So we can start to see some interesting trends.”

But it’s the use of the data in the future where he gets increasingly animated.  The former City of York transport manager suggests that the power of transport modelling will help give real insights into the new shape of traffic. 

“We’re seeing increasingly elaborate models, we’re seeing increasingly powerful computing capabilities that allow us to run models, much more complex models,” he says. “I think cities should be starting to invest more in real time modelling and bringing the power of modelling, bringing their transport planning services together with the network management services, working with companies, traditional players and new entrants into the market that can model things in real time… I think now is the time to start to invest in the resource to get the modelling in place to get a new understanding of what how your city will work in the future.”

This week’s other guest is INRIX director Peter Lees who told his former colleague Paul Hutton about the INRIX Traffic Scorecard’s value in understanding travel behaviour and how people’s commutes will change long-term. “We’ve noticed the biggest drop being commutes in and out of towns and city centres,” he explains. “So, whereas generally travelling between centres on the motorway network and the larger road networks, and between smaller town and village centres hasn’t been affected as much, we anticipate that that will rebound. And it has already started to to a degree more quickly than the regular commuting traffic where, you know, it’s a bit of an unknown at the moment.”

The podcast also features a new feature, “Adrian’s Accolade”, where Highways News co-owner Adrian Tatum picks out an organisation or person due special praise for an industry-improving idea.  Who wins this week, Tarmac, Balfour Beatty or the UK Roads Liaison Group?  Find out by listening to this great addition to industry knowledge.


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