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GUI & Training

Just as cars and computers are very technically complex, most people are able to use them once they have been trained. We believe that this should also be the case for transport models – they should be easy to use. Just as all car drivers and computer users need to be trained, some training is required with the GUI and transport modelling software.

We believe that through the use of a GUI (Graphical User Interface) non-modellers will be able to run transport models. In fact our greatest desire is for every transport engineer and planner to have access to a transport model on their desk that covers their area of interest for constant referral.

We build such GUIs in a MS Excel workbook, a software package that is available on almost all computers and likely that most computer users are already familiar with. The workbook holds the land use data and some buttons. When the user clicks the buttons, the built-in scripts will do the rest. We also build these GUIs for existing transport models.

We train planners and transport engineers to make land use changes in our GUI, run the transport model, and extract the basic engineering measures (plots and statistics) using the transport modelling software. A few easy steps allow this to happen. We also train traffic engineers to make network changes, enabling them to analyse the impacts of these changes.

This allows our client to test future developments themselves without having to commission a separate study every time a new development is proposed or a small change to the network needs to be analysed. This has huge cost savings for Council and ultimately to society.


Using Emme to Produce your own plots and statistics

Below is a plot that could be produced by planners of Wagga Wagga.

Figure 1: Our client was able to use their Emme model to see what would happen to traffic if residential locations were changed in a fictitious Wagga Wagga future scenario. The green lines represent less traffic while the red lines represent more traffic. This is significant if you consider the three bridge crossings.

GUI & Training

Using Mesoscopic Models to produce you own plots and statistics

Transport Modelling has also attached GUI’s to Dynameq models so that planners and traffic engineers can make changes to land use or the network in order to produce plots and statistics showing what happens to the traffic flows.

Figure 2: Our client was able to produce these plots in Dynameq which show the resulting traffic queues if a development with an 840 car parking space at The Entrance is to be placed in the location shown. Note how intersections some distance from the development are affected.

GUI & Training

Similar plots could be produced for any location in the study area as well as numeric values for traffic on any link or intersection of the modelled network.

Structured Training Programme

Paul has been developing this kind of model for many years however over the last few years the difference is that Transport Modelling has a structured training programme to make sure non-modellers can actually use the model and produce valuable traffic flow data. Once the models are built they remain the property of the client. Transport Modelling has a vast experience in building models, and users attest that our models give good results for the whole area over which they are built.

Producing the GUI and training, as far as we know, is not offered by any other modelling company. We would really appreciate the opportunity to be able to show you exactly what we are saying as we know you will be pleasantly surprised. It would take about 45 minutes. If you are interested contact us through our contact page.


Examples of the models and GUIs are:

Wagga Wagga Traffic Model (WWTM) & GUI

This model uses the Emme and Dynameq transport and traffic modelling software. The GUI has been specifically designed so that local Government council staff could use it.


GUI & Training

Background

Wagga Wagga is an important regional agricultural, academic, military and transport hub of Australia with a population of about 64,000 people. The city is midway between the two largest cities in Australia, Sydney and Melbourne.

The Sturt Highway dissects the city, with the CBD to the north and residential areas to the south of the Highway. The Murrumbidgee River grids the northern part of the CBD.

WWTM GUI

The WWTM has a user friendly interface consisting of an MS Excel workbook which contains the land use data for the years 2010, 2020, 2030 and 2040. The models are for the AM and PM peaks in both Emme and Dynameq. Users can change the land use values for any of the years, and generate their own plots and statistics on traffic flows.

Figure 3: The green generate button is clicked in the spreadsheet which sends data to the Emme software for production of traffic plots and statistics related to the change in employment or population.

GUI & Training

Image used with permission from Wagga Wagga Council.

When the user clicks the button, scripts written will be used to run the Emme component of the WWTM. A few key strokes run the Emme model and this will generate the strategic results. The Emme model runs very quickly and by opening the appropriate worksheets, the user can see the results. The advanced users can test new land uses on alternative networks.

More detailed results can be obtained by importing the matrixes into the Dynameq model, running a DTA (Dynamic Traffic Assignment), and viewing the results with the Dynameq worksheets. Running the Dynameq model will take somewhat longer than the Emme model as there is a lot more detail being processed by the computer.

Training in the WWTM

Staff were trained to

  • make land use changes
  • discover numeric traffic flows throughout the model
  • generate the difference plots (plots showing the changes in traffic flow resulting from the land use change)
  • do a select link analyses (showing the origins and destinations of trips that use the selected link) in both the Emme and Dynameq software packages.
  • examine queues and other engineering measures in the Dynameq model.

Model Structure

The development of the WWTM was jointly funded by Wagga Wagga City Council and the NSW Road and Maritime Service. The model specifications required it to be based on traffic counts, rather than on the more traditional land use approach. In anticipation of the data requirements for the model development both Council and RMS embarked on a very extensive traffic survey program. Council collected traffic survey data at over 100 locations, and the RMS collected video recordings at the key intersections along the Sturt Highway.

Transport Modelling was commissioned to build the Wagga Wagga Traffic Model (WWTM) model. The challenges of the design of this model were

  • determining the future travel demands based on existing traffic counts. This challenge was resolved when it proved to be possible to estimate the future traffic from the historic traffic growth rate and the historic population growth rate.
  • to model the traffic flows at the mesoscopic level. These flows consist of urbanised drivers and drivers who live on life-style blocks and travel on the open roads with the 100 km/hr and 80 km/hr speed limits as they come into the city. This challenge was resolved by fine-tuning the response factors for the first few links at the outer edge of the network.

The network was coded in the Dynameq software and transferred to the Emme model so that the matrix manipulations could be undertaken. As the model development progressed, it became increasingly obvious that the Emme software should become part of the WWTM. Now the WWTM runs in both the Emme and Dynameq software packages. The Emme model is used for the strategic modelling, and the Dynameq model is used for the detailed analyses. The model base year is the 2010, and the future years are the 2020, 2030 and 2040. All models include the AM and PM peaks.

A major part of the project dealt with the analyses of the raw MetroCount data files. These data files and 15 minute surveys were analysed in 15-minute slices. The analyses gave good indications of the traffic conditions in localised areas, for example the impact of local traffic near schools.

The demand adjustment process was not abused. It is possible to keep applying the automatic demand adjustment tool until all the counts are satisfied but this has the possibility of distorting the results. Therefore the seed matrix used was based on a transformed travel time matrix and the trip ends were aligned to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ population, journey to work data. The weighted average trip length was marginally refined. The model was audited by the most senior, experienced modellers of the Roads and Maritime Services. The auditors were most impressed by the whole WWTM.

Figure 4: Plot showing the trip ends for the 1hr AM peak trip table. Red indicates the traffic productions while blue indicates the traffic attractions.

GUI & Training

Modelling with the WWTM

The WWTM model was required to assist Council with the land use planning of the City, and the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) with the management of State Roads.

Transport Modelling used the WWTM for the ‘Sturt Highway Medium Treatment Study’ and the new ‘Master Plan for the Bomen Industrial Estate Study’. The results of the study lead to the NSW Department of Planning approving the rezoning from the existing 150 hectares to 1500 hectares.

Figure 5: Plot showing the additional traffic (trips) generated for the additional population (green) and additional jobs (blue). Using the GUI population and job changes are reflected in the resulting trips.

GUI & Training
Wyong Shire Council - The Entrance/Long Jetty Traffic and Toukley Traffic Models and GUI

The Entrance/Long Jetty Traffic Model

Both The Entrance and Toukley models use the Dynameq traffic modelling software. An MS Excel workbook GUI has been specifically designed to model the Iconic sites and include a simple mode choice module.

The Entrance/Long Jetty are suburbs in Wyong Shire Council located on a peninsula, with Budgewoi Lake on one side and Tasman Sea on the other side. It is a very attractive tourist destination. The Entrance/Long Jetty is looking to undergo substantial development in the future. The Wyong Shire Council needed a model they could manipulate themselves to examine the effects on traffic of such developments.

Figure 6: Dynameq plot showing the link occupancy for the Entrance/Long Jetty Traffic Model. Council staff can change land use and the network in order to produce these plots.

GUI & Training

The base year model is for 2012. Different trip generation and attraction rates are applied to each land use to best reflect traffic flows with the land use changes. The future years are for 2021 and 2031.

The GUI allows the engineers, and planners, to change:

  • Population
  • Employment
  • Parking stations
  • Schools

The users have also been trained to make changes to the network. The user makes any land use changes in the MS Excel workbook. These changes can be either putting in new land use or taking out any planned development. For The Entrance/Long Jetty model, ten specially selected ‘iconic sites’ have been earmarked for ease of making the land use changes. These sites are all considered for possible redevelopment.

Once these changes have been made, the user simply clicks a button to import the data into Dynameq which then runs the model. After that the user can produce the necessary plots and statistics.

Public Transport Module

The NSW government has optimistic targets for shifts to public transport, and therefore these models also include a public transport module. The interface has a dial up button that allows the user to set the desired mode-shift, that is, the target percentage of people the user would like to see take public transport. This calculation is possible because each zone has been coded according to distance from bus routes. If the zone is near a bus route then the full proportion of travellers will be moved across while if the zone is a long distance from the bus stop, none of the travellers will travel by bus. Consideration is given to both the trip origins and trip destinations of the travellers. Using this simple mode choice calculation the effect on the traffic of public transport can be seriously considered by the planner or traffic engineer.

Toukley Traffic Model

Toukley is a suburb in the Wyong Shire Council (about 1 hour’s drive north of Sydney). Toukley is on a peninsula with Budgewoi Lake on either side. It is a very popular tourist destination. It is anticipated that there will be some significant land use changes on the peninsula.

This is a Dynameq Traffic Model set up similar to the Entrance/Long Jetty Traffic Model. It was developed with the purpose of allowing council staff to make changes to the identified ‘iconic sites’ and be able to examine the traffic impacts of these changes. Both AM and PM peak models were built for the current and future 2021 and 2031 scenarios. This model also has a public transport component.

There are several zones in the CBD in order to be able to test future developments with particular attention being paid to the parking area entry onto the collecting roads.

Training council planners and engineers to use the Wyong traffic models

Two days of training sessions were presented to ensure that planners and engineers could use the models. This involved writing a user manual specific for transport and land use planners. The planners put in their land use changes and the model reflected the resulting traffic flows and other outputs such as queues, hot spots, comparison plots and numeric values. Basic network editing skills were also taught.

Pittwater Development and GUI

The GUI and the whole model are together in MS Excel. It was used to convert the conceptual ideas created by land use planners into traffic numbers so that the transport network could be further developed. The whole transport model is contained in the workbook.

For this type of modelling, a ‘spreadsheet’ model offers a convenient form of analysis, as it is economical to build and easy to use. It assists the planners and engineers to translate the concepts into traffic numbers.

The study area was split into sectors, and each sector contained a proportion that could be conserved as open space, as well as the possibility of dialling up the average population density. The remainder of the land was allocated to a combination of land uses. Some sectors were buffer zones which in the future could be designated as industrial, commercial or special land uses.

Figure 7: This spreadsheet allowed the client to change the numbers using the dial up buttons. When the recalculate button was clicked the new traffic flows would be calculated. Variables such as dwelling occupancy, industry, commercial, buffer zones and special land uses could be changed at different locations within the site.

GUI & Training

Once the land use was firmed up, more detailed traffic modelling could then be undertaken. The transport model had a few alternative internal networks.

Figure 8: This figure shows the traffic flow numbers for the external connections. Other plots showed the traffic flows at the internal intersections. These numbers could be produced by the client.

GUI & Training

Technical support was provided to Council staff after the report was delivered.

Magnetic Levitation Rail Planning GUI

This is another example of a GUI and a whole model contained in a MS Excel workbook. It was used to explore the potential number of car passengers that could be transferred to a very fast train. In the prefeasibility stage of the MagLev Project (magnetic levitated train) organisations were approached to undertake separate prefeasibility studies in two areas:

  • to explore the technical issues for a very high speed rail link and the cost of implementing such a link, and
  • to determine the expected potential patronage numbers that could be attracted to such a high speed rail service. There were 11 route options to be investigated.

We developed a spreadsheet based model that could be used to explore the potential number of car trips that could be transferred to a train.

Figure 9: This image shows the MS Excel workbook, allowing users to dial up the proportion of the car trips to be transferred onto rail from each new station.

GUI & Training

Transport Modelling supported this spreadsheet for several years after the initial project completed.

Development of the WOLSH (Wollongong – Shellharbour) front-end GUI

This is an example of a GUI that uses the TRACKS transport modelling software. The GUI was specifically developed for the Wollongong City Council local government area south of Sydney.

The growth area of Dapto is in the southern part of the local government area. Over the years this area has been extensively modelled as different land use scenarios and internal road networks have been proposed.

Within local councils, it is common for traffic engineers to also undertake the traffic modelling. The engineer’s work varies greatly, in that there will be a highly active modelling time and then the model lays dormant until the next modelling activity. Unless the last modelling activities have been documented in detail, the next round will require a ‘warm up - familiarisation’ period.

Transport Modelling was asked to set up a system that would ensure that consistent reproducible results were produced. We developed a Graphical User Interface based on the MS Excel workbook that became known as the ‘front-end’ of the model.

This front-end ensured that many of the mechanical tasks in modelling were automated. The front-end held all the land use files. Thus if the user chose a model year, the correct land use file was used, and the land use changes were applied to the correct year. Similarly, the user would choose a network for the model run.

The scripts within the front-end would generate the input data files, and also the scripts to run the model. Thus it was possible to re-generate the input data files and re-run the model.

Rail Travel Model (RTM) and GUI

This is an example of a GUI for a government organisation to enable testing the impacts of rail time tables using the city’s strategic travel model. This GUI uses the Sydney Strategic Travel Model as its engine.

Rail infrastructure Corporation (RIC) did not want to develop Emme transport modelling skills, but instead, required a user-friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI) to the Sydney Strategic Travel Model (STM) that enabled RIC staff to redefine STM inputs and focus on the analyses from its results.

Transport Modelling developed a user interface specifically designed to test the Sydney rail patronage impacts when additional freight services were introduced into the Sydney rail network.

Sydney’s future land use data was held in a MS Excel workbook and programmed scripts extracted the required data from the workbook, and seamlessly transferred this data into the STM, which then automatically ran to produce the results. This model became known as the Rail Travel Model (RTM).

Another User Interface was generated to pull together the results from the STM relevant to particular key performance variables. This helped to simplify the analysis.

Many freight and passenger services have been tested using the RTM. The freight traffic came from the Rail Access Corporation (RAC).

Parameters that could be changed included

  • Population
  • Rail timetables
  • Number of trains
  • Land use and hence freight

These changes have impacts on the rail operations of the system. The user interface developed by Transport Modelling simplified making the changing and the analysis.

Figure 10: Initial overall concept for implementation. This concept evolved into a fully ledged system that is wholly focussed on rail.

GUI & Training

Figure 11: GUI which the client could use to examine the effect of changes made in the RTM.

GUI & Training

Figure 12: Front-end for Building New Rail Networks and Rail Services.

GUI & Training

This work was audited and used for many years.

Training

Training has been carried out in a more formal capacity for Wagga Wagga, The Entrance/Long Jetty and Toukley models. Planners and traffic engineers have been trained to use the models in order to change the land use data, including population, employment, as well as making typical changes to the transport network.

We also train the user in extracting the results from the transport model, including the numerical values of turning movements, producing comparison plots, select link analyses, queues, hot spots, numeric values and statistics on the traffic flows.

Two days of training sessions were developed for Wyong Council which included a detailed document. This document is an illustrated step by step guide as to how to produce the plots and statistics in Dynameq using the GUI. This allows trained staff to leave the model for a period of time and be able to use it again sometime later. Extensive training documents have also been developed and delivered for the Wagga Wagga Emme and Dynameq models.

Figure 13: Training Schedule for Wyong Council Staff.

GUI & Training

Mapped Out Presentation at ARCGIS Conference

Transport Modelling demonstrated the Wagga Wagga Traffic Model and the ability of minimally trained Council staff to use the Wagga Wagga Traffic Model at the ‘Mapped Out’ Conference organised by REROC (Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils). This conference was held at the Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga (20th October 2011).

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