Prediction of travel time variability for cost-benefit analysis
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Unreliable travel times cause substantial costs to travelers. Nevertheless, they are often not taken into account in cost-benefit analyses (CBA), or only in very rough ways. This paper aims at providing simple rules to predict variability, based on travel time data from Dutch highways. Two different concepts of travel time variability are used, which differ in their assumptions on information availability to drivers. The first measure is based on the assumption that, for a given road link and given time of day, the expected travel time is constant across all working days (rough information: RI). In the second case, expected tra- vel times are assumed to reflect day-specific factors such as weather conditions or week- days (fine information: FI). For both definitions of variability, we find that the mean travel time is a good predictor. On average, longer delays are associated with higher variability. However, the derivative of variability with respect to delays is decreasing in delays. It can be shown that this result relates to differences in the relative shares of observed traffic ‘regimes’ (free-flow, congested, hyper-congested) in the mean delay. For most CBAs, no information on the relative shares of the traffic regimes is available. A non-linear model based on mean travel times can then be used as an approximation.