A Comparative Study of Three Multivariate Short-Term Freeway Traffic Flow Forecasting Methods With Missing Data Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016, Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Short-term traffic flow forecasting is a critical function in advanced traffic management systems (ATMS) and advanced traveler information systems (ATIS). Accurate forecasting results are useful to indicate future traffic conditions and assist traffic managers in seeking solutions to congestion problems on urban freeways and surface streets. There is new research interest in short-term traffic flow forecasting due to recent developments in intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies. Previous research involves technologies in multiple areas, and a significant number of forecasting methods exist in the literature. However, most studies used univariate forecasting methods, and they have limited forecasting abilities when part of the data is missing or erroneous. While the historical average (HA) method is often applied to deal with this issue, the forecasting accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This article makes use of the spatial relationship of traffic flow at nearby locations and builds up two multivariate forecasting approaches: the vector autoregression (VAR) and the general regression neural network (GRNN) based forecasting models. Traffic data collected from U.S. Highway 290 in Houston, TX, were used to test the model performance. Comparison of performances of the three models (HA, VAR, and GRNN) in different missing ratios and forecasting time intervals indicates that the accuracy of the VAR model is more sensitive to the missing ratio, while on average the GRNN model gives more robust and accurate forecasting with missing data, particularly when the missing data ratio is high.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Intelligent Transportation Systems

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, Y., & Zhang, Y.

citation count

  • 36

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Yanru||Zhang, Yunlong

publication date

  • May 2016