The President of the American division of Aimsun, world’s leading transport modelling companies, is warning that transport models will be have to be redesigned when the Coronavirus crisis is over.
Matthew Juckes told an ITS Canada webinar that there is a question over whether we will ever go back to the “normal” we had before, and therefore the industry needs a robust system that allows it to test multiple scenarios.
“We used to build models that look 20 years into the future,” he explained. “Well, now five years out doesn’t look the same as before. We need to be able to test the changes in transit use, the changes in ride sharing services. Will we see more people driving their own cars to work? Will there be increased need for traffic? We need to have models that will allow us to test out these scenarios. We don’t yet know the answers, but we need to have a quick way of being able to come up with some of the recommendations to solve these problems.”
Data analysis of changes in travel patterns have highlighted much lower traffic levels, but with defined, albeit smaller, morning and afternoon peaks. This, explained Juckes, will be used to try to understand how traffic might change in the future, using data available in San Diego, across Florida and in the Toronto area, “This allows us to collect lots of data, do an analysis of it and start creating the analytical predictions and develop new traffic trends and patterns,” he said. “One of the interesting things with this is these systems are able to see how that demand – how the use of the network – is changing over time and capture it. And using AI we are able to dynamically adjust demand moving forward.”
Analysis also shows the amount of public transport use at present is extremely low, limited, Juckes thinks, to those who absolutely have to travel and have no other alternative. The low ridership means present social distancing rules can be adhered to, but advanced modelling tools from Aimsun will be able to predict when ridership begins to increase again, and therefore when there may be an issue between numbers of people and the distance they can keep between them.
Juckes added that Aimsun is designing future-proof models with more robust data services. Modelling will be a key tool in understanding how transport can efficiently and quickly adapt to life after lockdown.