Optimizing distribution of metered traffic flow in perimeter control

Queue and delay balancing approaches

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Perimeter traffic flow control based on the macroscopic or network fundamental diagram provides the opportunity of operating an urban traffic network at its capacity. Because perimeter control operates on the basis of restricting inflow via reduced green times at selected entry (gated) links, vehicles on those links may be subject to queuing and delay. The experienced delay or resulting queue lengths depend on the adopted policy for the distribution of the inflows and corresponding green times at the gated links. The chosen policy may have a significant impact on the traffic system under control. For example, managing queue lengths may reduce the interference with upstream traffic whereas the management of delays may improve users’ perception with respect to equity and fairness. In this paper, an approach has been proposed to distribute the gated flow based on the queue lengths or experienced delay at the gated signalized junctions. This is in contrast to standard practice that distributes inflows proportionally to the gated links’ saturation flows. Perimeter control is then evaluated in a microscopic simulator for a realistic traffic network and compared in three configurations against fixed-time: perimeter control without queue or delay management; perimeter control with relative queue balancing; and perimeter control with delay balancing. It has been found that managing the queues at the gated links not only improves the overall network performance but also reduces the possibility of queue propagation to the upstream junctions. This improves traffic flow outside the protected network by managing the queue propagation at the gated links and reducing the possibility of queue spill-back to upstream intersections. In addition, the results indicate that perimeter control with delay balancing has a similar performance as the case without queue or delay management being a suitable approach for flow distribution among the gated links. In the scenarios with perimeter control with either queue or delay balancing the gap between the ordered flow by the controller and the actual flow crossing the stop-line at the gated links reduced remarkably.