Transportation Statistics and Microsimulation

Transportation Statistics and Microsimulation

The basic concept of transportation—the movement of goods and people
over time and space—has changed little since the Romans developed their
transportation system over two thousand years ago. Today we have far
more extensive transportation infrastructure systems that include roads,

waterways, railways, and air transport options, and much more sophisti-
cated technology than in the past, but the overall objective of transporta-
tion engineers remains the same—to plan, design, construct, and maintain

the various transportation modal systems in the safest and most efficient
manner possible. To achieve this goal, transportation professionals have to
be able to answer fairly sophisticated questions, such as:
Which pavement is most economical for a given situation?
What roadway geometry is safer?
What traffic control device works best?
Where should we invest our limited resources to produce the most
favorable outcome?

Most transportation professionals will take an introductory
course in probability and statistics as undergraduates and, if they

pursue further studies, a more in-depth statistics course as graduate stu-
dents. Rarely do these courses have a specific transportation focus. This

is problematic because the problems that they will encounter in their
working careers tend to be different from those taught in the generic

introductory courses. The relationships that need to be modeled are com-
plex, and the variables are often categorical in nature. In addition, a large

proportion of transportation studies are observational in nature and are
not amenable to experimental design.


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