Company soups up traffic simulator

Transims home page

Professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is developing an interface

to help bring a complex traffic simulation software package to market.

The tool is designed to help planners develop roadway and mass transit

systems that ease traffic congestion and air pollution.

The Transportation Analysis and Simulation System (Transims), which

was originally developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory for the U.S.

Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, simulates

daily travel patterns and emissions of vehicles. The software uses commuting

information derived from census and survey data for specific geographic

areas.

Current transportation modeling software simulates travel from point

to point but does not account for multiple destinations within the same

trip, according to Bob McLaughlin, Price-waterhouseCoopers' business development

manager for the project.

"It starts to map things the way people actually do them," he said.

"The predictions are much more realistic about the transportation system's

performance in handling those trips."

Los Alamos National Laboratory enlisted PricewaterhouseCoopers after

Transims proved difficult to use during trials in the Dallas-Fort Worth

and Portland, Ore., metropolitan areas.

Under the contract, worth $6 million to $7 million, the company will

have the right to market the system to state and metropolitan transportation

planning organizations and transportation consultants. Secondary customers

could include emergency evacuation and environmental planning organizations,

McLaughlin said.

Portland will be the first test site for the commercialized software.

Transims could be useful to cities and states trying to hold on to federal

transportation dollars that are tied to air quality standards.

"The emissions are not the same when you start out driving as opposed

to if you are driving for an hour on the highway," McLaughlin said. "[Transims]

can much more precisely estimate air quality."

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