Evaluating Recurring Traffic Congestion Using Change Point Regression and Random Variation Markov Structured Model

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Transportation Research Record


© National Academy of Sciences: Transportation Research Board 2018. This study develops a probabilistic framework that evaluates the dynamic evolution of recurring traffic congestion (RTC) using the random variation Markov structured regression (MSR). This approach integrates the Markov chains assumption and probit regression. The analysis was performed using traffic data from a section of Interstate 295 located in Jacksonville, Florida. These data were aggregated on a 5-minute basis for 1 year (2015). Estimating discrete traffic states to apply the MSR model, this study established a definition of traffic congestion using Bayesian change point regression (BCR), in which the speed-occupancy relationship was explored. The MSR model with flow rate as a covariate was then used to estimate the probability of RTC occurrence. Findings from the BCR model suggest that the morning peak congested state occurs once speed is below 58 miles per hour (mph), whereas the evening peak period occurs at a speed below 55 mph. Evaluating the dynamics of traffic states over time, the Bayesian information criterion confirmed the hypothesis that a first-order Markov chain assumption is sufficient to characterize RTC. Moreover, the flow rate in the MSR model was found to be statistically significant in influencing the transition probability between the traffic regimes at 95% posterior credible interval. The knowledge of RTC transition explained by the approaches presented here will facilitate developing effective intervention strategies for mitigating RTC.