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Linking a land use model with a transport model for calculating future scenarios

Issue 13-06-2013In the context of a MIRA R&D project, VITO has designed a prototype of the ATLAS model. This model integrates a transport model into the existing Space Model for Flanders. In this way, the model takes account of mutual interactions between land use and transport in calculating future scenarios. After integrating the data from the Flemish Traffic Centre on transport in Flanders, a first simulation was carried out using the ATLAS model. In addition, potential future scenarios were investigated.

Transport and land use influence each other

When making transport forecasts, it is important to include the interactions between land use and transport. Transport and land use influence each other as follows: on the one hand, the location choice of people and economic activities determine the resulting transport flows; on the other hand, the characteristics and the performance of the transport system will influence the development of land use. Accessibility is in fact one of the factors that determines the location choice of people and businesses. Moreover, transport infrastructure and transport flows also have other effects, e.g. environmental effects, that adversely affect the attractiveness of locations. The ATLAS model (Assessing Transport and Land Use Scenarios) can be used to study these aspects. The purpose is to obtain a model at system level that can be applied to adapt measures in three policy areas (transport, space and environment) using long-term scenario exercises.

The aim of this study was double. The ATLAS model was fed with data on transport from the  Flemish Traffic Centre and a first simulation was carried out. In addition, the project investigated the potential contribution of the ATLAS model to the construction of future scenarios.

Structure of the ATLAS model

The ATLAS model consists of two integrated parts: a spatial dynamic land use model and a transport model. Both parts can be used independently and in combination.

The spatial dynamic land use model is the existing Space Model for Flanders. It is a high resolution spatial simulation model and can be used to examine the impact of different policy choices on future land use. It combines the effects of socio-economic developments, and of existing and planned policy (spatial policy and transport policy) in scenarios for potential developments in Flanders, Belgium, Europe or the rest of the world. Furthermore, it evaluates the policy choices in social, economic and ecological areas using spatial sustainability indicators.

The transport model is an aggregated model for passenger transport in Flanders. The model operates at the level of traffic zones, which are an aggregate of the cells used in the land use model. In each year it starts from the location of the households and employment and the characteristics of the traffic zones, as defined in the land use model. The evolution of the car fleet is included as an exogenous factor. Based on these inputs it determines: (i) the number of trips for three purposes: commuting, school, and other purposes; (ii) the origin and destination of the trips; (iii) the modal choice and timing; (iv) the route between each origin and destination; (v) the emissions and energy consumption associated with the transport flows. The model also determines accessibility indicators, which will also help assign the land use.

The ATLAS approach is innovative in that it takes into account the interaction between the transport and land use models, such that the mutual influencing of changes in the transport system and changes in land use can be incorporated in the development of long-term forecasts.

Figure 1: Structure of the ATLAS model

Scheme Structure of the ATLAS model

Future scenarios with the ATLAS model

The ATLAS model can be used to assess the impact of global demographic and economic trends on transport flows and land use, as well as to calculate the emissions and energy consumption associated with transport. In addition, it can be used to evaluate the effects of spatial policy on transport flows and land use. Specific types of spatial interaction can be stimulated, e.g. offices near stations, industry and commercial activities at industrial sites. Also spatial planning can be changed, e.g. re-densification of cities to reduce urban sprawl. Also different transport policies such as pricing measures, regulation and infrastructure measures can be evaluated. Examples of pricing measures are road pricing, incentives for more environmentally friendly vehicles, vehicle tax changes. Regulation can be used to lower  emissions and energy use. Infrastructure measures can be implemented, e.g. to reduce fragmentation. The effect of expanding or reducing the infrastructure can be determined. A first simulation was carried out to test the prototype of the ATLAS model. Additional data are needed to further optimise the model in order to evaluate comprehensive scenarios in the areas of space policy, transport policy and environmental policy at the Flemish level. It will also be possible to calculate the effects of major infrastructure works or location choices of businesses and households in cities and towns.

Read the English summary of the Dutch report ‘Linking a land use model with a transport model for calculating future scenarios’

Study commissioned by MIRA, the Environment Reporting Unit
Research report MIRA/2012/10 - VITO/2013/TEM/R/29

researchers: Laurent Franckx, Inge Mayeres, Inge Uljee, Guy Engelen, VITO

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