A porous flow approach to modeling heterogeneous traffic in disordered systems

Rahul Nair, Hani S. Mahmassani*, Elise Miller-Hooks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


A continuum model that describes a disordered, heterogeneous traffic stream is presented. Such systems are widely prevalent in developing countries where classical traffic models cannot be readily applied. The characteristics of such systems are unique since drivers of smaller vehicles exploit their maneuverability to move ahead through lateral gaps at lower speeds. At higher speeds, larger vehicles press their advantage of greater motive power. The traffic stream at the microscopic level is disordered and defines a porous medium. Each vehicle is considered to move through a series of pores defined by other vehicles. A speed-density relationship that explicitly considers the pore space distribution is presented. This captures the considerable dynamics between vehicle classes that are overlooked when all classes are converted to a reference class (usually Passenger Car Equivalents) as is traditionally done. Using a finite difference approximation scheme, traffic evolution for a two-class traffic stream is shown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1345
Number of pages15
JournalTransportation Research Part B: Methodological
Volume45 `
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Continuum model
  • Disordered systems
  • Heterogeneous traffic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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