Transportation forecasting is the process of estimating the number of vehicles or people that will use a specific transportation facility in the future.
Transportation forecasting is the process of estimating the number of vehicles or people that will use a specific transportation facility in the future. For instance, a forecast may estimate the number of vehicles on a planned road or bridge, the ridership on a railway line, the number of passengers visiting an airport, or the number of ships calling on a seaport. Traffic forecasting begins with the collection of data on current traffic. This traffic data is combined with other known data, such as population, employment, trip rates, travel costs, etc., to develop a traffic demand model for the current situation. Feeding it with predicted data for population, employment, etc. results in estimates of future traffic, typically estimated for each segment of the transportation infrastructure in question, e.g., for each roadway segment or railway station.
Traffic forecasts are used for several key purposes in transportation policy, planning, and engineering: to calculate the capacity of infrastructure, e.g., how many lanes a bridge should have; to estimate the financial and social viability of projects, e.g., using cost-benefit analysis and social impact assessment; and to calculate environmental impacts, e.g., air pollution and noise.