טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentOmer Zur
SubjectThe Impact of Models on Decision Making: The Case of
Transportation Planning
DepartmentDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Supervisor Full Professor Shiftan Yoram
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

Over the last 60 years many travel demand models have been developed, providing quantitative tools to analyze and forecast travel demands. Over the years, various improvements made to the models, led to better forecasts. Nevertheless, researches show a significant gap between the professional modelling output analysis (quantitative) and the decision-making processes.

The objective of this research is to create a better understanding of the use of travel demand models within the decision-making process and its contribution to the formulation of policies that address transportation, financial, social and environmental challenges.

The research methodology core is a qualitative research, based on a set of personal semi-structured interviews with professionals and decision makers in Israel, and complementary workshops that were held at the Technion and Oxford universities, with the participation of decision-makers, professionals, planners, and academics.

In order to better understand the decision-making process regarding mega transport projects, the research looked into a case study of the role of travel demand models in the decision-making process of the Tel- Aviv light rail project.

The most comprehensive findings show a great use of models throughout all of the decision-making levels. Alongside this widespread use, the study suggests the presence of a few weaknesses: the decision makers perceive the model as a 'black box' producing a 'single value' derived from the model's analysis. Moreover, the advanced models are characterized by high complexity, making the model’s properties and assumptions more difficult to understand. Furthermore, this study revealed a unique phenomenon where the model's development process isn't the result of the most appropriate tools, but occurs due to corporate interests.

The study's findings indicate a great confidence in the use of these models in decision-making, due to the perception of the model as scientific, objective, and 'clean', and because of the 'single value' common language, using a clear-cut analysis of the model's results. Following that, further development of the models is a necessary step, focus on technical aspects such as database expansion and computation upgrade, due to the theoretical complexity of the advanced models.  

The study indicates few means which contribute to the reduction of the knowledge utilization gap: (1) The great developments which perfected travel demand models in a variety of analytical tools; (2) Use of the standard procedure of models' results analysis and economic cost-benefit evaluation; (3) the mediation work of "intermediate level" player, or: "professional official".