MRCagney Works

Auckland Transport Model Kit

To test whether a major public transport project is worth building in Auckland, the project's effects on transport demand are first modelled, then its economic benefits computed and weighed against its costs. The Auckland Forecasting Centre does the modelling with its Macro Strategic Model (MSM), Auckland's canonical four-step transportation forecasting model, and from its outputs, consultants, often ourselves, compute the economics, following national guidelines.

This latter task falls on our Economics Team and is no mean feat. The standard MSM outputs comprise gigabytes of 600 x 600 origin-destination matrices of forecasted trip demands, trip costs, and trip journey times across multiple modes, purposes, and times of travel across several variations of the proposed transport project. You do not want to manipulate these matrices by hand.

To help the Economics Team do its job we created ATMK, a software package to analyse and visualise MSM outputs. ATMK provides a programmatic, hence easily testable and repeatable, workflow. Using it the team can calculate economic benefits accurately with MSM's fine-grained matrices instead of making rough approximations with MSM's course-grained summaries.

The team then combines these economic benefits with estimated costs and sensitivity tests to derive a range of benefit-cost ratios for the project in question.

"ATMK is an easy-to-use tool, not just for computing economic benefits, but also for visually exploring its results. For example, using ATMK to plot agglomeration benefits on an interactive map, I can see where in Auckland the benefit is the greatest, then quickly sense-check MSM's output. ATMK also makes it easy to replicate my analyses across different scenarios." ~Danielle Gatland, Transport Planning and Economics at MRCagney

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2017-01-01