COVID-19 pandemic impacts on traffic system delay, fuel consumption and emissions

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۴٫۲۷۶ در سال ۲۰۲۰

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۲۶ در سال ۲۰۲۱

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COVID-19 pandemic impacts on traffic system delay, fuel consumption and emissions

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COVID-19 pandemic impacts on traffic system delay, fuel consumption and emissions


A dramatic reduction in traffic demand has been observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, producing noticeable declines in  traffic delays, energy consumption, and emissions. This unprecedented event provides us  with the chance to investigate how limiting the number of  vehicles on  the transportation network can  contribute to a  better  environment. This paper quantifies the effects of reduced traffic demand on vehicle delays, fuel  consumption, and emission levels. Microscopic simulation was used to model traffic for  seven different networks. Our   results show that decreased traffic demand contributes significantly to reducing delays and emissions, especially in congested urban areas. The  results also show that another important contributing factor is the network  configuration. Specifically, net- works with lower connectivity and fewer routing alternatives or  networks with lower roadway density are  more sensitive to traffic demand drops in  terms of reducing vehicle delays and emissions.

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  1. Introduction

The modern transportation system is composed of a large number of personal vehicles. For example, in the United States, there were 264  million registered vehicles in  ۲۰۱۵٫ Given  such numbers, traffic congestion, fuel  consumption, and green- house gas  emissions have become a serious problem. According to  data from Forbes, traffic congestion cost  US cities more than $88  billion in 2019 (FORBES 2020). Data  from the US Energy Information Administration show that the transportation sector accounted for 28.2% of the total energy consumption in the US and contributed to  ۲۸% of emissions in 2018.1

Transportation engineers devote tremendous attention to reducing the negative traffic and environmental impacts gen- erated by vehicles. Their  efforts include increasing the capability of roads (adding lanes, widening roads, or building inter- changes), implementing road pricing, improving the efficiency of internal combustion engines, identifying alternative power sources, optimizing the trajectories of vehicles by rerouting, eco-routing, or speed harmonization, and optimizing traffic con- trol   devices to  decrease the frequency of  acceleration and deceleration through traffic signal optimization, gating, and boundary control (Cairns, Atkins et al.  ۲۰۰۱; Lo and Szeto 2005; Samaras and Meisterling 2008; Silva,  Ross  et al., 2009;

Earleywine, Gonder et al. 2010; Barth et al., 2011; AERIS 2012; Ahn et al., 2013; Ahn and Rakha 2014; McCoy and Stephens

۲۰۱۴; Bigazzi  and Clifton 2015; Du, Guo et al. 2015; Elbery A. 2015; TRB 2016; Ma R. 2017; Litman 2018; Al-Masaeid 2019; Calle-Laguna, Du  et al.  ۲۰۱۹). However, the effects of such improvements are  typically insignificant because the current transportation system is overloaded. The transportation system is running at its capacity and any  method to improve its effi- ciency becomes marginal. The large number of vehicles is the solid base of the system, and any  method of improvement can only  scratch the surface of the problem.

Interestingly, the most effective possible solution to  this problem has  been the least investigated by previous research: decreasing the demand and the number of vehicles in the network. The reason is that, theoretically, this solution can  never be achieved: people need to travel for work, leisure, running errands, and other purposes. According to the Bureau of Trans- portation Statistics (BTS), total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on highways increased on average by 1% each year from 2000 to

۲۰۱۸, reaching 3240327 (millions, 2018) VMT, up  from 2746925 (millions, 2000) (BTS 2019).

At the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic became such a serious contagion that the whole world began to shut down. A Michigan-based transportation data management company, MS2, launched the Traffic Dashboard to provide timely information for  monitoring the impacts. The  daily traffic volume trends (DTVT), a  metric about the daily traffic volume change compared to  the same day  of the week in the same month for the most recent year,  was  created and published to reflect the traffic volume changes across the US (MS2  ۲۰۲۰). According to  their data, overall national traffic has  been cut down by up  to  ۶۵%. Similar statistics have been provided by Google (Google 2020). In general, the reduction in traffic vol- umes ranged from 40% to  ۶۵% by state.

Due to this dramatic change in traffic volumes, reporters found that the air quality in the Los Angeles (LA) area improved phenomenally (CNN 2020). Cities  with historically high levels of PM2.5  witnessed a dramatic drop in pollution since enforc- ing  lockdowns (BBC 2020). This  raises a question that seemed impossible to  answer before, namely: to  what extent can reduced traffic demand impact traffic congestion, vehicle fuel consumption, and emission levels? Are these impacts network specific?

The purpose of this paper is to study the changes in traffic delays, vehicle fuel  consumption and emissions of the trans- portation system during this unprecedented pandemic. Multiple networks were selected to  serve as  the testbeds. The changes are  explored for  each network. Suggestions on  policy making regarding pollution and delay control are  provided accordingly.

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