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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2015, Article ID 162632, 9 pages
Research Article

Investigating the Minimum Size of Study Area for an Activity-Based Travel Demand Forecasting Model

Transportation Research Institute (IMOB), Hasselt University, Wetenschapspark 5, Bus 6, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium

Received 28 July 2014; Accepted 16 October 2014

Academic Editor: Wuhong Wang

Copyright © 2015 Qiong Bao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Nowadays, considerable attention has been paid to the activity-based approach for transportation planning and forecasting by both researchers and practitioners. However, one of the practical limitations of applying most of the currently available activity-based models is their computation time, especially when large amount of population and detailed geographical unit level are taken into account. In this research, we investigated the possibility of restraining the size of the study area in order to reduce the computation time when applying an activity-based model, as it is often the case that only a small territory rather than the whole region is the focus of a specific study. By introducing an accuracy level of the model, we proposed in this research an iteration approach to determine the minimum size of the study area required for a target territory. In the application, we investigated the required minimum size of the study area surrounding each of the 327 municipalities in Flanders, Belgium, with regard to two different transport modes, that is, car as driver and public transport. Afterwards, a validation analysis and a case study were conducted. All the experiments were carried out by using the FEATHERS, an activity-based microsimulation modeling framework currently implemented for the Flanders region of Belgium.