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Predicting Travel Time Variability for Cost-Benefit Analysis


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  • Stefanie Peer

    (VU University Amsterdam)

  • Carl Koopmans

    (VU University Amsterdam)

  • Erik T. Verhoef

    (VU University Amsterdam)


Unreliable travel times cause substantial costs to travelers. Nevertheless, they are not taken into account in many cost-benefit-analyses (CBA), or only in very rough ways. This paper aims at providing simple rules on how variability can be predicted, based on travel time data from Dutch highways. The paper uses two different concepts of travel time variability. They differ in their assumptions on information availability to drivers. The first measure is based on the assumption that, for a given road link and given time of the day, the expected travel time is constant across all working days (rough information: RI). In the second case, expected travel times are assumed to reflect day-specific factors such as weather conditions or weekdays (fine information: FI). For both definitions of variability, we find that the mean travel time is a good predictor of variability. On average, longer delays are associated with higher variability. However, the derivative of travel time variability with respect to delays is decreasing in delays. It can be shown that this result relates to differences in the relative shares of observed traffic 'regimes' (free-flow, congested, hyper-congested) in the mean delay. For most CBAs, no information on the relative shares of the traffic regimes is available. A non-linear model based on mean travel times can be used as an approximation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 10-071/3.

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Date of creation: 19 Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:uvatin:20100071

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Keywords: Travel time variability; Cost-benefit analysis; Mean-variance approach;

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Cited by:
  1. Wang, Qian & Sundberg, Marcus & Karlström, Anders, 2013. "Scheduling choices under rank dependent utility maximization," Working papers in Transport Economics 2013:16, CTS - Centre for Transport Studies Stockholm (KTH and VTI).
  2. Paul Koster & Hans Koster, 2013. "Analysing Heterogeneity in the Value of Travel Time and Reliability: A Semiparametric Estimation Approach," ERSA conference papers ersa13p1032, European Regional Science Association.
  3. Bergström, Anna & Krüger, Niclas A., 2013. "Modeling passenger train delay distributions: evidence and implications," Working papers in Transport Economics 2013:3, CTS - Centre for Transport Studies Stockholm (KTH and VTI).
  4. Paul Koster & Hans Koster, 2013. "Commuters' Preferences for Fast and Reliable Travel," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-075/VIII, Tinbergen Institute, revised 24 Jun 2013.
  5. Paul Koster & Eric Kroes & Erik T. Verhoef, 2010. "Travel Time Variability and Airport Accessibility," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-061/3, Tinbergen Institute.


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