Microscopic simulation for medical center transportation planning.

Author:Cheng, Liang-Chieh 'Victor'

    This research is motivated by the need for a metropolitan area in integrating short-term and long-term traffic modeling, transportation planning, and regional development. I employ the Transportation Analysis and Simulation System's (TRAMSIMS) microscopic simulation system to carry out research tasks. TRANSIMS is powered by the latest computer technology, multidisciplinary travel theories, and professional pedigree. FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) are exploring ways to enhance TRANSIMS-based transportation planning and meanwhile increase modeling effectiveness improving data collection techniques and transforming concept of data providers. Driven by legislative mandate, TRANSIMS appears to carry state Departments of Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and transit planners into future regional transportation and beyond.

    The research area of this paper focuses on the campus of Texas Medical Center (TMC), which is located in Houston, TX. TMC operates a large parking operation with 15 on-campus parking facilities, one of the largest in the U.S. with over 26,000 parking spaces. More than 125,000 people come to the TMC on a daily basis as patients, employees, visitors, students, and volunteers. The TMC presents attractive research issues in bridging activity system data and transportation system data for current or future year: challenging traffic problems, local network file compilation and validation, and the profound impact of new construction projects on traffic patterns. A systematic planning will affect the benefits and well-being of thousands of TMC transportation users.

    Both TMC campus and the surrounding areas in Houston face strong traffic challenges. Subareas of Houston are usually severely congested. Local congestion causes negative impacts on regional traffic as well as interregional travel to and from Houston and through TMC. Furthermore, the TMC transportation dynamics are conditioned by overall Houston traffic patterns. Any traffic incidents surrounding TMC will impact this area's traffic performance. At the worst context, the mobility for physicians and patients will be negatively impacted, causing loss of precious life-saving time.

    The Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC), Houston's regional MPO, and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) are supportive for and familiar with TRANSIMS. Multiple government agencies assure data availability, administrative support, and commitment to TRANSIMS. The city also demonstrates ability to consolidate planning expertise and computer resources. These factors increase the probability of success and the potentials for executing TRANSIMS in the study area, the TMC campus.

    This paper builds on a body of TRANSIMS projects performed by the research team. The modeling work in the paper integrates the TRANSIMS simulation methodology into TMC assessment in transportation development and policy impacts. It adopts a proactive approach to involve practitioners in the research time span. The research's multi-facet contributions are as follows: 1) I implemented TRANSIMS simulation logics and developed a modeling framework for transportation supply and demand in TMC area; 2) The research created and shared knowledge on microscopic modeling skills for TMC planning entities; 3) The modeling work complemented TMC planning entity's modeling tools and policy making; and 4) The research evaluated costs & benefits, and level of investment for implementing a TRANSIMS-enabled planning system for area major metropolitan subarea.


    The present research uses the TRANSIMS as the microscopic simulation system (Nagel and Barrett, 2008). A microscopic simulation provides details of individual travelers' activities, pertinent travel plans, interactive on-road behaviors, and traveler responses against various road conditions. Each synthetic traveler conducts a series of activities in different locations on a second-by-second basis (Nagel et al., 2008). It simulates stochastic responses by demand to changes in supply, or vice versa.

    TRANSIMS is a GIS-enabled transportation simulation system. It entails advanced computing technology, applications of travel theories, thorough...

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