Forecasting Urban Travel

Forecasting Urban Travel

Past, Present and Future

David E. Boyce and Huw C.W.L. Williams

Forecasting Urban Travel presents in a non-mathematical way the evolution of methods, models and theories underpinning travel forecasts and policy analysis, from the early urban transportation studies of the 1950s to current applications throughout the urbanized world. From original documents, correspondence and interviews, especially from the United States and the United Kingdom, the authors seek to capture the spirit and problems faced in different eras, as changing information requirements, computing technology and planning objectives conditioned the nature of forecasts.

Chapter 6: Activity-based travel analysis and forecasting

David E. Boyce and Huw C.W.L. Williams

Subjects: economics and finance, transport, environment, environmental sociology, urban and regional studies, transport, urban studies


By the early 1980s the potential of discrete choice travel forecasting models based on random utility theory was increasingly widely recognised and had achieved considerable support within the academic community. The move towards explicit behavioural foundations at the micro-level was seen by many to represent significant progress. The achievements noted in Chapters 4 and 5 appeared to be capable of addressing the problems of the past, as well as contemporary requirements. Here was a set of models consistent with economic theory which offered the language and authority of that tradition. The discrete choice random utility framework provided a ‘first principles’ approach to the construction of travel forecasting models as well as providing the basis for reinterpreting and refining the forecasting structures of old. The acceptance among practitioners was limited, however; where applied, the ‘disaggregate behavioural’ approach, with a few honourable exceptions noted in Chapters 4 and 5, was still confined to the study of policies and planning contexts for which modal switching was considered the sole or dominant behavioural response.

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