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# Introduction to Transportation Engineering

## Applications of Queueing Theory to Intersection

Analysis Level of Service

## Dusan Teodorovic and Antonio A. Trani

Civil and Environmental Engineering
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Blacksburg, Virginia
Spring 2005

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Material Covered

## • Application of deterministic queueing models to study

intersection level of service
• Study various types of intersection controls schemes used
in transportation engineering
• Most of the material applies to ground transportation
modes (highways)

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Basic Ideas

## • Traffic control represents a surveillance of the motion of

vehicles and pedestrians in order to secure maximum
efficiency and safety of conflicting traffic movements.
• Traffic lights or traffic signals are the basic devices used
in traffic control of vehicles on roads.
• They are located at road intersections and/or pedestrian
crossings.
• The first traffic light was installed even before there was
automobile traffic (London on December 10, 1868). The
current traffic lights were invented in USA (Salt Lake
City, (1912), Cleveland (1914), New York and Detroit
(1920)).

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Basic Definitions

## • Drivers move toward the intersection from different

approaches
• Every intersection is composed of a number of
approaches and the crossing area (see Figure)
• Each approach can have one, or more lanes. The traffic
stream is composed of all drivers who cross the
intersection from the same approach
• During green time, vehicles from the observed approach
can leave the stop line and cross the intersection
• The corresponding average flow rate of vehicles that
cross the stop line is known as a saturation flow.

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Intersection Geometry

Approach

Crossing area

## Figure 1. Typical Road Intersection.

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Flow Conditions at an Intersection

## • In most cases, queues of vehicles are established

exclusively during the red phases, and are terminated
during the green phases.
• Such traffic conditions are known as a undersaturated
traffic conditions.
• An intersection is considered as a unsaturated intersection
when all of the approaches are undersaturated.
• Traffic conditions in which queue of vehicles can arrive at
the upstream intersection are known as a oversaturated
traffic conditions.

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Traffic Control Techniques

## • Traffic engineers apply various traffic control strategies

(see the Figure) in order to minimize the total delay at the
intersection and/or maximize the intersection capacity.

Time
Cycle Cycle

## Figure 2. Intersection with Two Phases.

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Traffic Signal Control Strategies

## • Many isolated intersections operate under the fixed-time

control strategies.
• These strategies assume existence of the signal cycle that
represents one execution of the basic sequence of signal
combinations at an intersection.
• A phase represents part of the signal cycle, during which
one set of traffic streams has right of way. Figure 2
shows two-phase traffic operations for the intersection.
• The cycle contains only two phases. Phase 1 is related to
the movement of the north-southbound vehicles through
the intersection. Phase 2 represents the movement of the
east-westbound vehicles.

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Traffic Control Strategies

## • The cycle length c represents the duration of the cycle

measured in seconds. The sum of the phase lengths
represents the cycle length.
• For example, in the case shown in Figure 2., the cycle
length could be 90 seconds, length of the Phase 1 could
be 50 seconds, while the length of the Phase 2 could be
equal to 40 seconds.
• The cycle length is a design parameters of the intersection
as well as the green times allocated to each phase. Traffic
engineers can modify the settings of intersection
controllers based on demand needs at the intersection.

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Control Strategies
Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3

Cycle

## Figure 3. Intersection with Three Phases.

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Control Strategies

## • Higher number of phases is usually caused by traffic

engineer’s wish to protect some movements (usually left-
turning vehicles)
• “Protection” assumes avoiding potential conflicts with
the opposing traffic movement, and/or pedestrians
• There is always a certain amount of lost time (few
seconds) during phase change. For example, when the
green light changes to red there is am amber light period
to warn drivers of an impending change
• Obviously, the higher the number of phases, the better the
protection, and the higher the value of the lost time
associated with a phase change.

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Control Strategies

## • Traffic signals are control devices. The typical sequence

of lights at the intersection approach could be: “Red, Red
All, Green, Amber, Red, Red All,...”.
Flow [veh/h]

Saturation
flow

Time

Green
Red Amber
Red All
Effective green

## Figure 4. Definition of Green, Amber and Red Times.

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Control Strategies

## • “Green time”, “effective green”,”red time”, and “effective

red” are linguistic expressions frequently used by traffic
engineers
• In theory, all drivers should cross the intersection during
the green light. In reality, no one driver starts his/her car
exactly in a moment of the green light appearance
• Similarly, at the end of a green light, some drivers speed
up, and cross the intersection during the amber light
• “Green Time” represents the time interval within the
cycle when observed approach has green indication. On
the other hand, “Effective Green” represents the time
interval during which observed vehicles are crossing the
intersection.

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Vehicle delays at signalized intersections: Uniform
Vehicle Arrivals

## • For simplicity, let us assume for the moment that

observed signalized intersection could be treated as a D/
D/1 (deterministic) queueing system with one server
(hence the notation (D/D/1))
• We assume uniform arrivals, and uniform departure rate
(see Figure 5).

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Definition of Queueing Terms for Intersection
Analysis
Cumulative arrivals
Cumulative number of vehicles Cumulative departures

D(t)
C
A(t)
h
g0
A
B
r g
c
Time

Red Green

## Figure 5. Arrivals and Departures at an Intersection.

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Deterministic Queueing Analysis

## Let us denote by λ vehicles arrival rate, and by µ vehicles

departure rate during the green time period. In the
deterministic case, the cumulative number of arrivals A ( t )
and the cumulative number of departures D ( t ) are:
A(t) = λ ⋅ t (1)

D(t) = µ ⋅ t (2)

where:
c - the duration of the signal cycle
r - effective red
g - effective green

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Deterministic Queueing Analysis

c = r+g (3)

## The formed queue is the longest at the beginning of

effective green. The queue decreases at the beginning of
effective green.
We denote by g the time necessary for queue to dissipate
0

## (Figure 5). The queue must dissipate before the end of

effective green. In the opposite case, the queue would
escalate indefinitely. In other words, queue dissipation
will happen in every cycle if the following relation is
satisfied:

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Deterministic Queueing Analysis

g0 ≤ g (4)

## The relation (4) will be satisfied if the total number of

vehicle arrivals during cycle length c is less than or equal
to the total number of vehicle departures during effective
green g , i.e.:
c g

∫ λdt ≤ ∫ µdt
0 0
(5)

λ ⋅ t c0 ≤ µ ⋅ t g
0
(6)

λ⋅c≤µ⋅g (7)

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Deterministic Queueing Analysis

Finally, we get:
λ g
--- ≤ --- (8)
µ c

## Let us note the triangle ABC (Figure 5). Vehicles arrive

during time period ( r + g ) . Vehicles depart during time
0

0

## total number of vehicle departures, i.e.:

λ ⋅ ( r + g0 ) = µ ⋅ g0 (9)

( µ – λ ) ⋅ g0 = λ ⋅ r (10)

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Deterministic Queueing Analysis

## The time period g required for queue to dissipate equals:

0

λ⋅r
g 0 = ------------ (11)
µ–λ

## We divide both numerator and denominator by µ. We get:

λ
--- ⋅ r
µ
g 0 = ------------ (12)
λ
1 – ---
µ

## Define the utilization factor ( ρ ) (or traffic intensity) of the

intersection as ρ = --λ- , we can write:
µ

ρ⋅r
g 0 = ------------ (13)
1–ρ

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Deterministic Queueing Analysis

∆ABC

## delay d of all vehicles arrived during the cycle. This area

equals:
1
A ∆ABC = --- ⋅ r ⋅ h (14)
2

## where h is the height of the triangle (ABC).

h
The ratio ------------------ represents the slope λ , i.e.:
( r + g0 )

h
λ = ------------------ (15)
( r + g0 )

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Deterministic Queueing Analysis

## The height h of the triangle ABC is:

h = λ ⋅ ( r + g0 )

## The area of the triangle ABC equals:

1 1 λ⋅r
A ∆ABC = --- ⋅ r ⋅ h = --- ⋅ r ⋅ λ ⋅ ( r + g 0 ) = ---------- ⋅ ( r + g 0 ) (16)
2 2 2

## The total delay d of all vehicles arriving during the cycle

equals:
λ⋅r λ⋅r  ρ ⋅ r λ ⋅ r2  ρ
d = ---------- ⋅ ( r + g 0 ) = ---------- ⋅ r + ------------ = ----------- ⋅ 1 + ------------
 (17)
2 2  1 – ρ 2  1 – ρ

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Deterministic Queueing Analysis

λ ⋅ r2
d = ------------------------ (18)
2 ⋅ (1 – ρ)

## The average delay per vehicle d represents the ratio

between the total delay d and the total number of vehicles
per cycle. The total number of vehicles per cycle equals
λ ⋅ c . Therefore the average delay per vehicle d is:

d
d = ---------- (19)
λ⋅c

or
λ ⋅ r2
------------------------
2 ⋅ (1 – ρ)
d = ------------------------ (20)
λ⋅c

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Simplifying the previous expression, average delay per
vehicle is the average:
r2
d = ------------------------------- (21)
2 ⋅ c ⋅ (1 – ρ)

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Example Problem 1

## The cycle length at the signalized intersection is 90

seconds. The considered approach has the saturation flow
of 2200 [veh/hr], the green time duration of 27 seconds,
and flow rate of 600 [veh/hr].
Analyze traffic conditions in the vicinity of the
intersection. Calculate average delay per vehicle. Assume
that the D/D/1 queueing system adequately describes
considered intersection approach.

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Problem 1 - Solution

## The corresponding values of the cycle length and the

green time are:
c = 90 [ s ] ;g = 27 [ s ]

## veh 600 veh veh

λ = 600 --------- = ------------ --------- = 0.167 ---------
hr 3600 s s

## veh 2200 veh veh

µ = 2200 --------- = ------------ --------- = 0.611 ---------
hr 3600 s s

## Traffic intensity ρ equals:

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Problem 1 - Solution

veh
0.167 ---------
λ s
ρ = --- = ---------------------------- = 0.273
µ veh
0.611 ---------
s

## The duration of the red light for the considered approach

is:
r = c – g = 90 – 27 = 63 [ s ]

## The number of arriving vehicles per cycle is:

veh
λ ⋅ c = 0.167 --------- ⋅ 90 [ s ] = 15.03 [ veh ]
s

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Problem 1 - Solution

## The number of departing vehicles during green light is:

veh
µ ⋅ g = 0.611 --------- ⋅ 27 [ s ] = 16.497 [ veh ]
s

λ⋅c≤µ⋅g

## This means that the traffic conditions in the vicinity of the

intersection are undersaturated traffic conditions.
The average delay per vehicle is estimated using:
r2
d = -------------------------------
2 ⋅ c ⋅ (1 – ρ)

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Problem 1 - Solution

63 2
d = --------------------------------------------- = 30.33 [ s ]
2 ⋅ 90 ⋅ ( 1 – 0.273 )

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Example Problem 2

## The cycle length at the signalized intersection is 60

seconds. The considered approach has the saturation flow
of 2200 [veh/hr], the green time duration of 15 seconds,
and flow rate of 400 [veh/hr]. Analyze traffic conditions in
the vicinity of the intersection. Assume that the D/D/1
queueing system adequately describes the intersection
approach considered.
Calculate: (a) the average delay per vehicle; (b) the
longest queue length; (c) percentage of stopped vehicles.

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Problem 2 - Solution:

## (a) The corresponding values of the cycle length and the

green time are:
c = 60 [ s ] ;g = 20 [ s ]

## The red time is:

r = c – g = 60 – 20 = 40 [ s ]

## veh 400 veh veh

λ = 400 --------- = ------------ --------- = 0.111 ---------
hr 3600 s s

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Problem 2 - Solution

## veh 2200 veh veh

µ = 2200 --------- = ------------ --------- = 0.611 ---------
hr 3600 s s

## The utilization factor for the queue ρ is:

veh
0.111 ---------
λ s
ρ = --- = ---------------------------- = 0.182
µ veh
0.611 ---------
s

## The average delay per vehicle equals:

r2
d = -------------------------------
2 ⋅ c ⋅ (1 – ρ)

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Problem 2 - Solution

40 2
d = --------------------------------------------- = 16.3 [ s ]
2 ⋅ 60 ⋅ ( 1 – 0.182 )

## red light (Figure 5). The quantity L is calculated as max

follows:
veh
L max = λ ⋅ r = 0.111 --------- ⋅ 40 [ s ] = 4.44 [ vehicles ]
s

(c) Vehicles arrive all the time during the cycle. The total
number vehicles arrived A during the cycle equals:
veh
A = λ ⋅ c = 0.111 --------- ⋅ 60 [ s ] = 6.66 [ vehicles ]
s

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Problem 2 - Solution

## stopped. The total number of stopped vehicles S equal:

S = λ ⋅ ( r + g0 )

0

## estimated using equation:

λ⋅r
g 0 = ------------
µ–λ

We get:

λ⋅r 0.111 ⋅ 40
S = λ ⋅ ( r + g 0 ) = λ ⋅  r + ------------ = 0.111 ⋅  40 + ---------------------------------
 µ – λ  0.611 – 0.111

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S = 5.43 [ vehicles ]

## The percentage of stopped vehicles equal:

S 5.43
P = --- ⋅ 100 = ---------- ⋅ 100 = 81.53 [%]
A 6.66

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Example Problem 3

## A simple “T” intersection is signalized. There are two

approaches indicated in the figure. The cycle length at the
signalized intersection (Figure) is 50 seconds.

## Phase 1 Phase 2 Approach 1

Approach 2

Cycle

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Example Problem 3

## Approach 1 has the saturation flow of 2200 [veh/hr], the

effective green time duration of 35 seconds, and the flow
rate of 600 [veh/hr]. Approach 2 has the saturation flow of
2000 [veh/hr], the effective green time duration of 15
seconds, and the flow rate of 550 [veh/hr]. Assume that
the D/D/1 queueing system adequately describes
considered intersection approach.
Calculate: (a) the average delay per vehicle for every
approach; (b) Allocate effective red and green time among
approaches in such a way to minimize the total delay of
the “T” intersection.

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Problem 3 -Solution

(a) Approach 1:
The corresponding values of the cycle length and the
green time are:
c = 50 [ s ] ;g 1 = 35 [ s ]

## The red time equals:

r 1 = c – g 1 = 50 – 35 = 15 [ s ]

The flow rate and the service rate are respectively equal:

## veh 600 veh veh

λ 1 = 600 --------- = ------------ --------- = 0.167 ---------
hr 3600 s s

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Problem 3 -Solution

## veh 2200 veh veh

µ 1 = 2200 --------- = ------------ --------- = 0.611 ---------
hr 3600 s s

## The utilization factor for the queue in approach 1 ρ is: 1

veh
0.167 ---------
λ s
ρ 1 = -----1 = ---------------------------- = 0.273
µ1 veh
0.611 ---------
s

## The average delay per vehicle equals:

r12 15 2
d 1 = --------------------------------- = --------------------------------------------- = 3.09 [ s ]
2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ1 ) 2 ⋅ 50 ⋅ ( 1 – 0.273 )

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Problem 3 -Solution

Approach 2:
The corresponding values of the cycle length and the
green time are:
c = 50 [ s ] ;g 2 = 15 [ s ]

## The red time is:

r 2 = c – g 2 = 50 – 15 = 35 [ s ]

## veh 550 veh veh

λ 2 = 550 --------- = ------------ --------- = 0.153 ---------
hr 3600 s s

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Problem 3 -Solution

## veh 2000 veh veh

µ 2 = 2000 --------- = ------------ --------- = 0.555 ---------
hr 3600 s s

## The utilization factor for the queue ρ equals: 2

veh
0.153 ---------
λ s
ρ 2 = -----2 = ---------------------------- = 0.276
µ2 veh
0.555 ---------
s

## The average delay per vehicle equals:

r22 35 2
d 2 = --------------------------------- = --------------------------------------------- = 16.92 [ s ]
2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ2 ) 2 ⋅ 50 ⋅ ( 1 – 0.276 )

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Problem 3 -Solution

## (b) The total delay per cycle of all vehicles on both

approaches is the sum of the delays of every approach:

TD = λ 1 ⋅ d 1 + λ 2 ⋅ d 2

## substituting the definitions of d and d (see equation 21) 1 2

r12 r22
TD = λ 1 ⋅ --------------------------------- + λ 2 ⋅ ---------------------------------
2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ1 ) 2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ2 )

Since:
r1 + r2 = c

## after substitution, we get:

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r12 ( c – r1 )2
TD = λ 1 ⋅ --------------------------------- + λ 2 ⋅ ---------------------------------
2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ1 ) 2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ2 )

## The total delay is minimal when:

d[ TD ]
--------------- = 0
dr 1

## After substitution, we get:

r12 ( c – r1 )2
d λ 1 ⋅ --------------------------------- + λ 2 ⋅ ---------------------------------
2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ1 ) 2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ2 )
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- = 0
dr 1

r1 ( c – r1 )
λ 1 ⋅ -------------------------
- – λ 2 ⋅ -------------------------
- = 0
c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ1 ) c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ2 )

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Problem 3 -Solution

r1 ( 50 – r 1 )
0.167 ⋅ ------------------------------------- – 0.153 ⋅ ------------------------------------- = 0
50 ⋅ ( 1 – 0.273 ) 50 ⋅ ( 1 – 0.276 )

## After solving the equation, we get:

r 1 = 24 [ s ]

g 1 = c – r 1 = 50 – 24 = 26 [ s ]

r 2 = 26 [ s ]

g 2 = 24 [ s ]

## These are the optimal values of green and red times to

minimize the intersection delay.

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Problem 3 -Solution

## We can recalculate the average delays per vehicle:

Approach 1
r12 24 2
d 1 = --------------------------------- = --------------------------------------------- = 7.92 [ s ]
2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ1 ) 2 ⋅ 50 ⋅ ( 1 – 0.273 )

Approach 2:
r22 26 2
d 2 = --------------------------------- = --------------------------------------------- = 9.34 [ s ]
2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ2 ) 2 ⋅ 50 ⋅ ( 1 – 0.276 )

## These delays compare favorably with those obtained

before (3.09 and 16.92 seconds, respectively for
approaches 1 and 2).

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Vehicle Delays at Signalized Intersections: Random
Vehicle Arrivals

## • Traffic flows are characterized by random fluctuations

• The delay that a specific vehicle experiences depends on
the probability density function of the interarrival times,
as well as on signal timings and the time of a day when
the vehicle shows up
• Obviously, individual vehicles experience at a signalized
approach various delay values.

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Intersection with Random Arrivals

number of
vehicles

Overflow Delay
Uniform delay

Time

τ
Red Green

## Figure 6. Intersection with Random Arrivals.

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Intersection with Random Arrivals

## • Let us calculate the delay D for the vehicle arriving at

time τ (Figure 6). The overall delay D is composed of the
uniform delay d and the overflow delay d , i.e.:
R

D = d + dR (22)

## • The uniform delay d represents delay that would be

expirienced by a vehicle when all vehicle arrives
uniformly and when traffic conditions are unsaturated
(see Equations in previous sections).
• Due to the random nature of vehicle arrivals, the arrival
rate during some time periods can go over the capacity,
causing overflow queues.

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Considering Random Arrivals

R

## by short-term overflow queues. This delay can be easily

calculated using queueing theory techniques.

Queueing System

Crossing area γ λ

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Intersection with Random Arrivals

## We assume that vehicle interarrival times are

exponentially distributed. The service rate is deterministic
(we denote by γ departure rate from the artificial queue
into the signal), and there is only one server.
This means that the artificial Queueing System is M/D/1
queueing system (single server with Poisson arrivals and
deterministic service times).
The average delay per customer in the M/D/1 queueing
system equals:
α2
d R = -------------------------------- (23)
2 ⋅ λ ⋅ (1 – α)

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Intersection with Random Arrivals

where:
α - utilization ratio in the M/D/1 queueing system
The utilization ratio α in the M/D/1 queueing system
equals:
λ
α = --- (24)
γ

The departure rate from the artificial queue into the signal
γ can be expressed in terms of departure rates from the
traffic signal µ . The departure rate equals µ during green
time. During red time, departure rate equals zero (see
Figure 6).

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Intersection with Random Arrivals
Service rate
g
[veh/h]

µ
r Time

Red Green

Cycle

## Figure 7. Service Rate Definition at a Traffic Intersection.

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Intersection with Random Arrivals

## Departure rate γ during whole cycle equals:

0⋅r+µ⋅g
γ = --------------------------- (25)
c
g
γ = µ ⋅ --- (26)
c

## The utilization ratio α in the M/D/1 queueing system

equals:
λ λ
α = --- = ----------- (27)
γ g
µ ⋅ ---
c

i.e.:

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λ⋅c
α = ---------- (28)
µ⋅g

## The quantity α is known as a volume to capacity ratio.

The average vehicle delay is:
D = d + dR (29)

r2 α2
D = ------------------------------- + -------------------------------- (30)
2 ⋅ c ⋅ (1 – ρ) 2 ⋅ λ ⋅ (1 – α)

## It has been shown by simulation that Equation (30)

overestimate the average vehicle delay. The following two
formulas for average vehicle delay calculation were
proposed as a corrections of the equation (30):

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Webster’s formula:
1 5 ⋅ g
2 2 --- 
2 + ----------
r α  c 3  c 
D = ------------------------------- + -------------------------------- – 0.65 ⋅ -----2 ⋅ α (31)
2 ⋅ c ⋅ (1 – ρ) 2 ⋅ λ ⋅ (1 – α) λ 

Allsop’s formula:
2 2
9 r α
D = ------ ⋅ ------------------------------- + -------------------------------- (32)
10 2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ ) 2 ⋅ λ ⋅ ( 1 – α )

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Example Problem 4

## Using data given in the Example Problem 1, calculate: (a)

average delay per vehicle using Allsop’s formula. (b)
Calculate duration of the green time necessary to achieve
average delay per vehicle of 40 seconds.
Solution:
(a) The cycle length, green time, arrival rate, departure
rate, traffic intensity, volume to capacity ratio, and red
time duration are:
c = 90 [ s ]

g = 27 [ s ]

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veh 600 veh veh
λ = 600 --------- = ------------ --------- = 0.167 ---------
hr 3600 s s

## veh 2200 veh veh

µ = 2200 --------- = ------------ --------- = 0.611 ---------
hr 3600 s s

veh
0.167 ---------
λ s
ρ = --- = ---------------------------- = 0.273
µ veh
0.611 ---------
s

veh
0.167 ---------
s
----------------------------
λ veh
--- 0.611 ---------
µ s 0.273
α = --- = ---------------------------- = ------------- = 0.91
g 27 [ s ] 0.3
--- -------------
c 90 [ s ]

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Solution - Problem 4

r = c – g = 90 – 27 = 63 [ s ]

## The average delay per vehicle based on Allsop’s formula

equals:
2 2
9 r α
D = ------ ⋅ ------------------------------- + --------------------------------
10 2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ ) 2 ⋅ λ ⋅ ( 1 – α )

2 2
9 63 0.91
D = ------ ⋅ --------------------------------------------- + -------------------------------------------------
10 2 ⋅ 90 ⋅ ( 1 – 0.273 ) 2 ⋅ 0.167 ⋅ ( 1 – 0.91 )

D = 52.083 [ s ]

## (b) The average delay per vehicle is:

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2 2
9 r α
D = ------ ⋅ ------------------------------- + --------------------------------
10 2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ ) 2 ⋅ λ ⋅ ( 1 – α )

r2 10 α 2
------------------------------- = ------ ⋅ D – --------------------------------
2 ⋅ c ⋅ (1 – ρ) 9 2 ⋅ λ ⋅ (1 – α)

2
10 α
r = [ 2 ⋅ c ⋅ ( 1 – ρ ) ] ⋅ ------ ⋅ D – --------------------------------
9 2 ⋅ λ ⋅ (1 – α)
2
10 0.91
r = [ 2 ⋅ 90 ⋅ ( 1 – 0.273 ) ] ⋅ ------ ⋅ 40 – -------------------------------------------------
9 2 ⋅ 0.167 ⋅ ( 1 – 0.91 )

r = 47 [ s ]

g = c – r = 90 – 47

g = 43 [ s ]

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