An Agent-based Travel Demand Model System for Hurricane Evacuation Simulation


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Virginia Tech


This dissertation investigates the evacuees' behavior under hurricane evacuation conditions and develops an agent-based travel demand model system for hurricane evacuation simulation using these behavioral findings. The dissertation econometrically models several important evacuation decisions including evacuate-stay, accommodation type choice, evacuation destination choice, evacuation mode choice, departure time choice, and vehicle usage choice. In addition, it explicitly considers the pre-evacuation preparation activities using activity-based approach. The models are then integrated into a two-module agent-based travel demand model system.

The dissertation first develops the evacuate-stay choice model using the random-coefficient binary logit specification. It uses heterogeneous mean of the random parameter across households to capture shadow evacuation. It is found that the likelihood of evacuation for households that do not receive any evacuation notice decreases as their distance to coast increase on average. The distance sensitivity factor, or DSF, is introduced to construct the different scenarios of geographical extent of shadow evacuation.

The dissertation then conducts statistical analysis of the vehicle usage choice. It identifies the contributing factors to households' choice of the number of vehicles used for evacuation and develop predictive models of this choice that explicitly consider the constraint imposed by the number of vehicles owned by the household. This constraint is not accommodated by ordered response models. Data comes from a post-storm survey for Hurricane Ivan. The two models developed are variants of the regular Poisson regression model: the Poisson model with exposure and right-censored Poisson regression. The right-censored Poisson model is preferred due to its inherent capabilities, better fit to the data, and superior predictive power. The multivariable model and individual variable analyses are used to investigate seven hypotheses. Households traveling longer distances or evacuating later are more likely to use fewer vehicles. Households with prior hurricane experience, greater numbers of household members between 18 and 80, and pet owners are more likely to use a greater number of vehicles. Income and distance from the coast are insignificant in the multivariable models, although their individual effects have statistically significant linear relationship. However, the Poisson based models are non-linear. The method for using the right-censored Poisson model for producing the desired share of vehicle usage is also provided for the purpose of generating individual predictions for simulation.

The dissertation then presents a descriptive analysis of and econometric models for households' pre-evacuation activities based on behavioral intention data collected for Miami Beach, Florida. The descriptive analysis shows that shopping - particularly food, gasoline, medicine, and cash withdrawal - accounts for the majority of preparation activities, highlighting the importance of maintaining a supply of these items. More than 90% of the tours are conducted by driving, emphasizing the need to incorporate pre-evacuation activity travel into simulation studies. Households perform their preparation activities early in a temporally concentrated manner and generally make the tours during daylight. Households with college graduates, larger households, and households who drive their own vehicles are more likely to engage in activities that require travel. The number of household members older than 64 has a negative impact upon engaging in out-of-home activities. An action day choice model for the first tour suggests that households are more likely to buy medicine early but are more likely to pick up friends/relatives late. Households evacuating late are more likely to conduct their activities late. Households with multiple tours tend to make their first tour early. About 10% of households chain their single activity chains with their ultimate evacuation trips. The outcomes of this paper can be used in demand generation for traffic simulations.

The dissertation finally uses the behavioral findings and develops an agent-based travel demand model system for hurricane evacuation simulation, which is capable of generating the comprehensive household activity-travel plans. The system implements econometric and statistical models that represent travel and decision-making behavior throughout the evacuation process. The system considers six typical evacuation decisions: evacuate-stay, accommodation type choice, evacuation destination choice, mode choice, vehicle usage choice and departure time choice. It explicitly captures the shadow evacuation population. In addition, the model system captures the pre-evacuation preparation activities using an activity-based approach.

A demonstration study that predicts activity-travel patterns using model parameters estimated for the Miami-Dade area is discussed. The simulation results clearly indicate the model system produced the distribution of choice patterns that is consistent with sample observations and existing literature. The model system also identifies the proportion of the shadow evacuation population and their geographical extent. About 23% of the population outside the designated evacuation zone would evacuate. The shadow evacuation demand is mainly located within 3.1 miles (5 km) of the coastline. The output demand of the model system works with agent-based traffic simulation tools and conventional trip-based simulation tools.

The agent-based travel demand model system is capable of generating activity plans that works with agent-based traffic simulation tools and conventional trip-based simulation tools. It will facilitate the hurricane evacuation management.



Hurricane Evacuation, Agent-based Modeling and Simulation, Household Behavior