Highway Research Record

Congestion Mitigation in Urban Areas

Date of Start:January 2004
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (R, S, C, I)

Scope and objectives

The broad objective of this project is to develop methods to mitigate traffic congestion in urban areas in India by addressing the following three issues:
(i) Real-time traffic monitoring and management capabilities in order to adaptively and more efficiently use existing      transportation network capability in order to reduce congestion;
(ii) More accurate prediction of travel demand and its growth over time, and in response to changing urban       socio-   demographic-    technological patterns to support suitable infrastructure development and future needs, and
(iii) Proposing alternate modes of travel that combine the flexibility and convenience of personal vehicles, with high occupancy      levels of public transport vehicles, for efficient capacity utilization.

There is a need for real time traffic data and associated models to reduce congestion by distributing vehicles more uniformly on the network. Unfortunately, however, limited data are available on traffic flows in Indian conditions at the necessary real-time resolution, needed for the analysis of congestion and development of congestion mitigation measures. Therefore, data, observational and modeling tools are urgently needed for developing a better understanding and analysis of rapidly changing urban traffic patterns, especially, under mixed heterogeneous traffic conditions on Indian roads. In this regard, this project seeks to develop and improve the infrastructure needed for real time traffic surveillance systems necessary for congestion monitoring and control.
Observed traffic congestion is the result of the inability of the existing supply to match the growing demand for travel. There is need to develop more accurate tools for forecasting travel demand. This project aims to calibrate models of travel demand that explicitly capture the role of temporal and spatial changes in demand patterns. The models thus obtained can be used for various applications including: a) support planning and evaluation of transportation infrastructure facilities, b) develop estimates of demand for newer and alternative modes, c) develop regional emissions forecasts due to vehicular traffic in conjunction with real time traffic data.
To manage the demand for personal vehicle travel, the project also proposes to investigate the feasibility of developing a prototype ‘call bus’ system which combine the flexibility and convenience of a personal vehicle, provide a lower cost than commercial call taxis, but at the occupancy level to be more environment friendly. This will focus on integration and linkage between transportation, operations and design of a call bus system, and the underlying advanced communication systems to provide seamless delivery of low cost and convenient transportation service substitute for public transportation modes. Included in this task are algorithm development for operations, design for supporting telecommunication infrastructure, deployment of prototypical instrumentation.


(i) The extensive household survey among 2000 households in Chennai metropolitan area has brought out the changes in      travel and socio-economic trends over a period of time, that are considered valuable in further modeling exercises.
(ii) Bus travel time and delay studies along a busy route of Chennai city was conducted using GPS-GIS technology. This has      helped to identify congested stretches and the probable causes for delay


In the current context of deteriorating traffic congestion levels in most cities of India, this project achieves significance. It addresses the issue through the applications of advance technologies, enhanced and more accurate demand modelling and attempts to promote higher occupancy vehicle usage.

Further proposed work
Deployment of advanced sensing equipment and development of strategies for congestion mitigation
(i) Development of travel demand model to analyse the performance of alternative planning actions and to evaluate      transportation infrastructure based on insights from the model.
(ii) Economic feasibility analysis of “Call bus” system and evaluation of alternative policies to make the system viable.