Adaptive Zoning for Transport Mode Choice Modeling
Adaptive zoning is a recently introduced method for improving computer modeling of spatial interactions and movements in the transport network. Unlike traditional zoning, where geographic locations are defined by one single universal plan of discrete land parcels or ‘zones’ for the study area, adaptive zoning establishes a compendium of different zone plans, each of which is applicable to one journey origin or destination only. These adaptive zone plans are structured to represent strong spatial interactions in proportionately more detail than weaker ones. In recent articles, it has been shown that adaptive zoning improves, by a large margin, the scalability of models of spatial interaction and road traffic assignment. This article confronts the method of adaptive zoning with an application of the scale and complexity for which it was intended, namely an application of mode choice modeling that at the same time requires a large study area and a fine-grained zone system. Our hypothesis is that adaptive zoning can significantly improve the accuracy of mode choice modeling because of its enhanced sensitivity to the geographic patterns and scales of spatial interaction. We test the hypothesis by investigating the performance of three alternative models: (1) a spatially highly detailed model that is permissible to the maximum extent by available data, but requires a high computational load that is generally out of reach for rapid turnaround of policy studies; (2) a mode choice model for the same area, but reducing the computational load by 90% by using a traditional zone system consisting of fewer zones; and (3) a mode choice model that also reduces the computational load by 90%, but based on adaptive zoning instead. The tests are carried out on the basis of a case study that uses the dataset from the London Area Transport Survey. Using the first model as a benchmark, it is found that for a given computational load, the model based on adaptive zoning contains about twice the amount of information of the traditional model, and model parameters on adaptive zoning principles are more accurate by a factor of six to eight. The findings suggest that adaptive zoning has a significant potential in enhancing the accuracy of mode choice modeling at the city or city-region scale.