Roads Task Force - Technical Note 10 What is the capacity of the road network for private motorised traffic and how has this changed over time?

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4 Capacity is a central concept in the design of roads and traffic control. It is desirable to be able to predict the times and places where congestion occurs, the amount of delay involved, and the volumes of traffic expected in bottle necks. Therefore it is important that capacity is clearly defined, is measurable, and can be used in modelling and operational decision making. Although the capacity definition in the HA note TA 79/99 can easily be understood, misunderstandings in interpretation arise. This is because there are different approaches to expressing the capacity of a road. Figure 4 represents a scheme in which the various approaches (with definitions) are distinguished (Minderhoud et al (1997)). There are also different meanings of the various road capacities according to purpose for which they are derived: Design Capacity: A single capacity value (possible derived from a capacity distribution) representing the maximum traffic volume that may cross a section of road with certain probabilities under pre-defined road and weather conditions. Strategic Capacity: A capacity value (possible derived from a capacity distribution) representing the maximum traffic volume a road section can handle, which is assumed to be a useful value for analysing conditions in road networks (e.g. traffic flow assignment and assimilation). The capacity value or distribution is based on observed traffic flow data by static capacity models. Operational Capacity: A capacity value representing the actual maximum flow rate of a roadway, which is assumed to be a useful value for short-term traffic forecasting and with which traffic flow control procedures may be performed. This value is based on direct empirical capacity methods with dynamic capacity models. Figure 4 Classification of roadway capacity estimation methods 4

6 Figure 5 Width of carriageway on the TLRN The efficiency of the TLRN in moving traffic can be characterised by dividing the annual average daily flow by metre of carriageway width. Figure 6 shows in more stark contrast the capability of east - west corridors and the top part of the outer orbital (A406) TLRN corridors to deliver high volumes of traffic compared to the north - south corridors. Figure 6 Flow per metre of carriageway width on the TLRN The north - south corridors have a higher share of movement by buses and coaches, so that effective movement on roads is also determined by capacity utilisation by public transport. 6

7 Figure 7 Share of buses and coaches in general traffic on TLRN corridors Effective capacity utilisation is multifaceted and should also include a view of freight movement and an appreciation of the economic value of that freight in its evaluation. Another dimension of capacity utilisation of the road network is the use of that space by general traffic through the day. Figure 8 provides an index of general traffic flows on the TLRN. The graph clearly shows the AM and PM peaks, and shows that, on average, traffic levels are very similar at and It can be seen that the morning peak runs from to 10.00, whilst the evening peak runs from to

10 In each time period over the most recent four years the total number of these pinch pints at key junctions at key junctions has decreased, see Figure 9. Between 2008/09 and 2011/12 the total number of capacity constrained junctions has decreased from 380 to 354, a decrease of 7 per cent. Figure 9 Total number of pinch points, where delay is greater than 2000 minutes per km per hour, by time period for the years 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12 Figure 10 shows the location of these pinch points in the AM peak. The majority are located on the main radial and orbital routes, with 78 per cent of them located on key TLRN corridors. Figure 10 Total vehicle delay at AM peak pinch points September 2011 to August 2012 The data in Figure 11 shows that several of the TLRN corridors have a number of pinch points along them in each time period. The orbital routes the A406 North Circular Road and the Inner Ring Road have high numbers of pinch points throughout the day, whilst the A2, A12 and A13 have particularly high numbers of pinch points in the PM peak. The Inner Ring Road, City Cross Route and the Western Cross Route all have high numbers of pinch points per km. Any 10

11 possible improvements on these routes may be of a higher priority in order to smooth traffic flow along them. Figure 11 Number of pinch points on key routes, 2008/09 to 2011/12 MIT study Evidence for the influence of intervention factors on network capacity The Massachusetts Institute of Technology built a simulation model for TfL to understand the influence of street works and parking interventions in reducing capacity, where different levels of these interventions were measured in a common capacity (PCU-km per hour) and compared with the base case which did not include any interventions for two sub networks (Victoria station area and Marylebone Road). The Victoria station area and Marylebone Road were modelled in proprietary software called MITSIMLab with each network flooded by vehicles by scaling the origin-destination (OD) matrix. The network is assumed to reach its capacity when pre-trip queues start forming, that is no further vehicles can be loaded in the network. The total distance travelled by all the vehicles in one hour when the network has reached its capacity were noted and converted to PCU-km per hour. The average speeds of the vehicles at capacity were also compared. 11

13 Figure 12 Index of London s highway capacity (1996=100) 110 Highway capacity, 1996 = Outer Inner Central TLRN and borough roads Unfortunately an equivalent similar long term data series for traffic flows and speeds on the TLRN and BPRN stretching back 20 years does not exist making it difficult to establish appropriate elasticities to repeat this work for these road networks. In the 10 year period between 2000 and 2010, traffic in greater London has fallen 10 per cent while that on the TLRN has only fallen 1.5 per cent. The TLRN is 5 per cent of the capital s road network by length but carries 30 per cent of the Capitals traffic by volume. Traffic speeds on the TLRN have been broadly static over the last six years, but here the key observation is that prior to 2006, before reliable speed observations exist, there were large changes in capacity on London s roads led primarily by the introduction of bus lanes. Figure 13 details the cumulative bus lane introductions across London (mainly on the TLRN) between 2000 and 2008, and it can be seen that by 2006 the take of capacity by bus lanes had largely stabilised (Closure of LB1 programme ). 13

15 modelling or simulation framework, so that the capacity impacts of interventions, either in the aggregate or individually, can be quantified. The need to develop a common currency of capacity impacts such that different disruption events and activities on the network can be expressed on a common basis. This would facilitate exploration of traffic impacts in conjunction with a suitable modelling or simulation framework, and would provide a basis for assessing the relative scale or intensity of the different types of intervention. Given that the effective capacity of an urban road network is largely determined by its junctions, the emphasis might be concentrated in terms of factors affecting junction performance. The development of tools and new models will enable TfL to make significant progress in understanding the linkages between link, junction and network level capacity in the next couple of years. References Design Manual for Roads and Bridges Part 3, Part 3, TA 79/99 Amendment NO 1 Traffic Capacity of Urban Roads, Highways Agency, May Minderhoud, M. M., Botma, H., and Bovy, P. H. L. (1997), Assessment of Roadway Capacity Estimation Methods, Transportation Research Record No. 1572, pp Identification of Pinch Points, Valves and Hotspots in London, Traffic Analysis Centre, Network Performance, Traffic Directorate, (March 2013). Massachusetts Institute of Technology Evaluating the Impact of Interventions on Network Capacity ITS Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, May 7, Travel in London Report 4, Transport for London (2011). 15

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