TMIP Email List Technical Synthesis Series 2007-2010

TMIP Email List Technical Synthesis Series 2007-2010

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  • Abstract:
    Traffic analysis zones (TAZs) are the basic geographic unit for inventorying demographic data and land use within a study area. While the total number of TAZs dictates the size of trip matrices, the size and shape of TAZs can influence model results. Most notably, highway and transit trip loadings and the percent of intra-zonal trips are directly impacted by study area zonal detail and the size of the zones. Consequently, defining an appropriate zonal geography has long been a challenge to the travel demand model community. Historically, the number of zones in a study area was limited by the capacity and processing power of computers. With the advent of geographic information system (GIS) integrated software and increased micro-computer power and capacity, the maximum number of zones in a study area is much less restricted. Generally, the more zones a study area has, the more useful the model may be for various planning related purposes (e.g. transit modeling, different land use alternatives, studying non-motorized activities, sub-area analysis). Increasing the number of zones in a study area does require additional investment of time and resources. As one contributor noted, “the greater level of zone detail should be balanced with the extra costs associated with the development of detailed input data, model development and maintenance, increased file storage space requirements and increased model run times.” Ultimately, the number of zones in a study area is determined by the study area’s size and planning needs. The following is a brief synopsis of the contributions to the email list regarding general guidelines for defining TAZs.
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