All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Virginia P Sisiopiku

Advisory Committee Members

Andrew Sullivan

Da Yan

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE) School of Engineering


At the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States was leading in the public transit sector, but following World War II, private car trips became more affordable and more popular, specially, in the last few decades. Transportation infrastructure investments that increased road capacity enabled the development of suburbs leading to urban sprawl and increase in automobile use at the expense of reduced public transit ridership. With the increase of dependency in automobiles and the continuing growth of private automobile ownership and use, various problems became major challenges in big cities of USA. These include traffic congestion, air pollution, road and parking infrastructure costs, energy consumption, traffic safety, fewer mobility options for the non-drivers, and decline in the image and use of public transit. However, medium sized cities like Birmingham, Alabama are also facing similar challenges caused by increased automobile trips. According to the Urban Mobility report 2019, an average driver in Birmingham spent 40 hours trapped in traffic congestion in 2017 at a cost for the average automobile commuter of $990/year. Still, 85% of the people drive their own car to travel to work, while less than 1% use public transit for commuting to work. These figures are worse than the national averages that report 76% driving alone and 5% using mass transit to commute to work. Given these discrepancies and the many potential benefits from reduction of automobile use, there is an interest in quantifying potential improvements in local mobility for potential shifts from automobile use into public transit options.This study uses Birmingham as a case study to investigate the potential of public transit in the medium-sized US cities to reduce automobile trips and in turn improve the overall performance of the road network. An agent-based simulation model was developed for the Birmingham metropolitan region using the Multi-agent Transport Simulation platform (MATSim). Three scenarios were considered with gradually increased transit ridership to identify the benefits of increased public transit. Traffic volume, network average speed, and travel times were used as performance measures for the evaluation of the designated scenarios. Results suggest that modal shifts toward public transit and reduction in travel demand for automobile can result in improvements in speed and travel time for all users. Therefore, investments for improving transit quality and frequency of service as well as campaigns to improve the image of public transit and make it a mode of choice for transportation can increase transit ridership and, in turn, improve network operations, thus are deemed worthy for medium sized cities.

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Engineering Commons



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