National Passenger Transportation Model 2016: Zone structure and transportation networks

The Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) is preparing a new National Passenger Transportation Model, which will enable planners to model passenger flows and the relationships between passenger transportation networks and analyze the impact of proposed measures. EBP is providing the groundwork in the area of transportation networks and transportation zones.

Transportation models as a tool for transportation planning

Transportation models are used in transportation planning in order to illustrate the complex interactions between urban settlements, landscape, environment, economy, society and the transportation infrastructure, and to enable the impact of future changes to be investigated. In Switzerland, there are numerous cantonal and regional models that can be used depending on the problem and the parameters of the matter under consideration. At national level, the government's National Passenger Transportation Model (NPTM) forms the basis for analyzing transportation planning measures.

Laying the groundwork for transportation networks and transportation zones

EBP supported ARE in the preparation of the new NPTM 2016. The scope of the work was to lay the groundwork for the modeling of the national passenger transportation system in the area of transportation networks and transportation zones. In terms of public transportation, EBP brought together the data from a number of public transportation networks and integrated the timetables offered by the various transportation providers. In terms of the road transportation aspect, we first assured the quality of the navigation network of the company TomTom, then adapted it for the purposes of transportation modeling, enhancing it with various additional attributes. In tandem with this work we redrafted the zone structure with the prerequisite that it should be possible to map this on the previous (less detailed) zone structure without compromising the data quality.

Public transportation: integrated and transnational

The result of this project is an integrated model of public transportation offerings based on 2015 timetables, which not only illustrates the long-distance rail transportation offering of the SBB timetable in Switzerland and abroad, but also includes all the urban and regional public transportation offerings on the basis of HaCon's timetable information system (HAFAS). EBP physically created the interfaces between the public transportation offerings in the network model by integrating corresponding network elements and by validating the timings given for these. In addition, we integrated a forecast for the SBB timetable with a time horizon of 2030. We took the railway network of the Federal Office of Transportation (FOT) as the infrastructural basis, and expanded on it. This was in order to be able to ensure the routing capacity of the rail transportation offering. In addition, we undertook the routing for the bus services using the road network.

Schematische Darstellung der Netzhierarchie im ÖV
Schematic diagram of public transportation network hierarchy

Road network: Switzerland-wide, validated, expanded and routing-capable

The aim of preparing the road network on the basis of 2016 was also to make available a network for the transportation modeling system that would have a routing facility. To this end, EBP defined the transportation systems and types of routes, determined the numbers of traffic lanes and route capacities, calculated model speeds using TomTom speed profile data, and determined the relationships between turnings. In addition, we carried out a streamlining and simplification process on the network, while maintaining all the relevant topological relationships. This means that ARE has a Swiss-wide, validated and routable road network that can be used for future modeling in the new NPTM.

Netz Streckentyp Resultate
Resulting route network colored according to road type (red: freeway, orange: arterial, green: collector, gray: other roads)

Broadly supported GIS-based zone structure

The project also provides a new and significantly improved zone structure in comparison with the older version. By using a variety of input data (infrastructure networks, boundaries of bodies of water, construction zones and structural data regarding population and workforce) EBP has succeeded in refining the previous almost 3000 transportation zones into around 8000. We developed a procedure for this using FME and arcpy-scripts (Esri ArcGIS) that carried out an iterative and optimized aggregation based on automatically generated, and extremely detailed output zones. These were quality assured in a final manual step and some were even improved. We defined rules for the manual processing that guarantee a harmonized procedure throughout Switzerland. In addition, we classed transportation facilities with particularly heavy traffic, such as airports and shopping centers, as individual zones.

Resultate Zonenzentroide Karte
New NPTM zones and population-weighted zone centroids

We integrated the transportation zones in the model for roads and public transportation services and incorporated them using estimates. Then we checked the network context and validated the offer model by producing different benchmark matrices.

Resultate Zonenstruktur Karte
In the new NPTM, the urban zones, in particular, are where the level of detail has been significantly increased.