Estimating origin-destination matrices from roadside survey data

Masao Kuwahara, Edward C. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study is to develop a valid and efficient method for estimating origin-destination tables from roadside survey data. Roadside surveys, whether conducted by interviews or postcard mailback methods, typically have in common the sampling of trip origin and destination information at survey stations. These survey stations are generally located where roads cross "screenlines," which are imaginary barriers drawn to intercept the trip types of interest.Such surveys also include counts of traffic volumes, by which the partial origin-destination (O-D) tables obtained at the different stations can be expanded and combined to obtain the complete O-D table which represents travel throughout the entire study area. The procedure used to expand the sample O-D information from the survey stations must recognize and deal appropriately with a number of problems: 1. (i) The "double counting" problem: Long-distance trips may pass through more than one survey station location; thus certain trips have the possibility of being sampled and expanded more than once, leading to a potentially serious overrepresentation of long-distance trips in the complete expanded trip table. 2. (ii) The "leaky screenline" problem: Some route choices, particularly those using very lightly traveled roads, may miss the survey stations entirely, leading to an underestimation of certain O-D patterns, or to distorted estimates if such sites are arbitrarily coupled with actual nearby station locations. 3. (iii) The efficient use of the data: There is a need to adjust expansion factors to compensate for double counting and leaky screenlines. How can this be accomplished such that all of the data obtained at the stations are used without loss of information? 4. (iv) The consequences of uncertainty and unknown travel behavior: Since the O-D data and other sampled variables are subject to random error, and since in general the probability of encountering a long-distance trip at some survey stations is affected by traveler route-choice behavior, which is not understood, the sample expansion procedure must rely on the use of erroneous input data and questionable assumptions. The preferred procedure must minimize, rather than amplify, the effects of such input errors. Here, five alternate methods for expanding roadside survey data in an unbiased manner are proposed and evaluated. In all cases, it is assumed that traveler route choice generally follows the pattern described by Dial's multipath assignment method. All methods are applied to a simple hypothetical network in order to examine their efficiency and error amplification properties. The evaluation of the five methods reveals that their performance properties vary considerably and that no single method is best in all circumstances. A microcomputer program has been provided as a tool to facilitate comparison among methods and to select the most appropriate expansion method for a particular application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-248
Number of pages16
JournalTransportation Research Part B
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1987 Jun
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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