Estimating travel time functions for urban roads: Options and issues

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Travel time functions specify the relationship between the travel time on a road and the volume of traffic on the road. Until recently, the parameters of travel time functions were rarely estimated in practice; however, a compelling case can be made for the empirical examination of these functions. This paper reviews, and qualitatively evaluates, a range of options for developing a set of travel time functions. A hierarchy of travel time functions is defined based on four levels of network detail: area, corridor, route and link. This hierarchy is illustrated by considering the development of travel time functions for Adelaide. Alternative sources of data for estimating travel time functions are identified. In general, the costs and benefits increase as the travel time functions are estimated at finer levels of network detail. The costs of developing travel time functions include data acquisition costs and analysis costs. The benefits include the potential for reducing prediction errors, the degree of application flexibility and the policy sensitivity of the travel time functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-82
Number of pages20
JournalTransportation Planning and Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1989


  • costs and benefits
  • data collection
  • statistical estimation
  • Travel time functions

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