The International Symposium on Activity-Based Modelling

The International Symposium on Activity-Based Modelling

Hosted by the Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI)
Held at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Date: 10th March 2014.

This symposium provided an unique opportunity to discuss challenging issues regarding the activity-based modelling paradigm and to forward emerging ideas. The symposium brought together leading experts from academia and industry who actively work on developing cutting edge activity-based modelling frameworks. It facilitated the exchange of ideas and served as a platform for establishing a community focusing specifically on the most advanced travel demand modelling schemes.

Conference speakers, government planners, academics and industry representatives, noted that the new and innovative activity-based models which are currently been used in the United States and Israel provide far greater detail and accuracy.  They allow urban planners and researchers to simulate how individuals in a particular area are likely to react to tweaks in transport policy, such as raising the cost of a toll road. The traditional four-step models has limited capability, as it simulates the impact of policy changes on geographic zones rather than individuals.

The level of detail offered by the new models enables urban planners to more accurately compare the outcomes of different policy decisions. However, cost, complexity, and the availability of computer resources and data to power the models, have impacted the pace of their adoption.

The symposium was the first of its kind to focus on the challenges — in addition to the advantages — of adopting the new models.

Symposium speakers discussed the majority of activity-based models currently in operation around the world, including those from the United States cities of Chicago, Austin, San Francisco and Phoenix, as well as models developed for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Netherlands.

Dr. Taha Hossein Rashidi, from rCITI noted  that there is currently a debate among urban planners and agencies about whether or not they can justify moving to an activity-based model for travel demand forecasting.

But he believes even sceptics left the symposium convinced of the merits of giving the models a chance.

“People who were not even comfortable accepting the advantages of activity-based models at the start of the symposium were convinced by the end that the tools are good enough to trial,” Dr. Hossein Rashidi says. “That’s a good outcome.”


Photo of presenters 
L-R, Front: Dr. John Bowman, Prof. Ram Pendyala, Dr. Soora Rasouli, Dr. Taha Hossein RashidiBack: Prof. S. Travis Waller, Prof. Abolfazl Mohammadian, Prof. Yoram Shiftan, Prof. Harry TimmermansProf. Chandra Bhat (not pictured above, presented remotely)

The following distinguished international guest speakers, representing Academia and Industry 
from Australia, USA, Europe and Asia who spoke: 

• Prof. Abolfazl Mohammadian, University of Illinois-Chicago 
• Prof. Chandra Bhat, University of Texas-Austin 
• Prof. Ram Pendyala, Arizona State University 
• Prof. Harry Timmermans, Eindhoven University of Technology 
• Prof. Yoram Shiftan, Technion Israel Institute of Technology 
• Dr. John Bowman, Bowman Research and Consulting 
• Dr. Taha Hossein Rashidi, UNSW Australia (University of New South Wales) 
• Dr. Soura Rasouli, Eindhoven University of Technology

Full presentations from the symposium were recorded 
To view a session click on one of the links below:-

Welcome Prof. Waller & Prof. Foster (HoS)
Program announcement Dr. Hossein Rashidi

Session 1: Providing a definition for an activity-based model 
Moderator: Prof. Timmermans
•  Presentation by the moderator 
•  Panel discussion 

Session 2: Introduction to each activity-based model 
Moderator: Dr. Rashidi
•  Prof.’s Shiftan, Pendyala & Mohammadian

Session 3-1 & 3-2: Introduction to each activity-based model 
Moderator: Dr.  Hossein Rashidi
•  Dr.’s Rasouli &  Hossein Rashidi, 
•  Prof . Bhat & Dr Bowman

Session 4-1 & 4-2:   Challenging issues 
Moderator: Dr. Hossein Rashidi
•  Uncertainty in complex systems and emulators Dr. Rasouli
•  Data requirments Prof. Shiftan
•  Population synthesis Dr. Bowman
•  Panel Discussion 
•  Question and answer 

Session 5:  Econometric versus rule based methods? 
Moderator: Prof. Timmermans
•  Presentation by the moderator 
•  Panel discussion 
Session 6:   Integrated modeling
Moderator: Dr. Hossein Rashidi 
•  Simulation frameworks for integrated modeling Prof. Mohammadian
•  Traffic simulations Prof. Pendyala
•  Panel discussion 
•  Question and answer 

Session 7: Future directions
Moderator: Prof Pendyala
•  Panel discussion  

Sponsored by:

  • Research Management Committee, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UNSW
  • UNSW Faculty of Engineering