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Comprehensive analysis of traffic congestion over a decade to evaluate carbon emissions impacts of transport policy

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Margaret Carol Bell CBE, Dr Fabio Galatioto


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Since 1987 Leicester City Council has invested in UTMC, Urban Traffic Management and Control systems to better manage traffic aiming to reduce congestion impacts. In 1992 Leicester became the first Instrumented city in the UK and has created an unique source of traffic and air quality information for academic research. Currently nearly 900 traffic streams are monitored to enable the signal timings to be adjusted demand responsively. There are several air quality monitoring stations (AURN, Automatic Urban and Rural Network, DEFRA, roadside pollution monitors etc.) spread over the city and a meteorological conditions station, supply data records which are collected and stored in real-time. At Newcastle University the historic information (traffic and air quality) over a recent 10 years (1998-2007 inclusive) has been uploaded into a Postgres SQL database and is being analysed to gain an understanding of how traffic patterns, and more specifically congestion, have responded to the introduction of transport policies and traffic management scheme implementation, demographic and land use changes as well as the more short term events such as road works and accidents, for instance. This paper presents the first stage of the comprehensive analysis of the historic database across a region of Leicester using bespoke automatic statistical techniques. This knowledge, along with a congestion sensitive carbon dioxide emission, CO2, prediction algorithm, fleet compositions and emissions factors based on available literature, is used to estimate the changes in CO2 emission over time and most importantly to ultimately estimate the 1990 CO2 emission as the base case level. This represents the crucial CO2 level against which to reference all the future scenarios aiming to reduce CO2 emission by 80% by 2050. The results show that if the traffic flows measured during 1998 prevailed until 2007, improvements in tailpipe technology would have resulted in an emissions reduction of 11%. However increases in traffic and congested related emissions have completely eroded these benefits and emissions levels with 2007 technologies and 2007 traffic flow regimes have increased by 7% over 1998 levels.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bell MC, Galatioto F, Hill G

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Unpublished

Conference Name: 43rd Annual UTSG Conference

Year of Conference: 2011

Publisher: Universities' Transport Study Group (UTSG)