Improved flow-based travel time estimation method from point detector data for freeways

Lelitha D. Vanajakshi, Billy M. Williams, Laurence R. Rilett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Travel time is an important parameter in evaluating the operating efficiency of traffic networks, in assessing the performance of traffic management strategies, and as input to many intelligent transportation systems applications such as advanced traveler information systems. Travel time can be obtained directly from instrumented test vehicles, license plate matching, probe vehicles etc., or from indirect methods such as inductance loop detectors. Because of the widespread deployment of loop detectors, they are one of the most widely used inputs to travel time estimation techniques. There are different methods available to calculate the travel time from loop detector data, such as extrapolation of the point speed values, statistical methods, and models based on traffic flow theory. However, most of these methods fail during the transition period between the normal and congested flow conditions. The present study proposes several modifications to an existing traffic flow theory based model for travel time estimation on freeways, such that the model can estimate travel time for varying traffic flow conditions, including transition period, directly from the loop detector data. Field data collected from the I-35 freeway in San Antonio, Tex., USA, are used for illustrating the results. Automatic vehicle identification data collected from the same location are used for validating the results. Simulated data using CORSIM simulation software are also used for the validation of the model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-36
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Transportation Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Data analysis
  • Intelligent transportation systems
  • Traffic flow
  • Traffic models
  • Travel time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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