July 16


The roll-out of HCM 2010 caused us to look at the different software packages out there for doing capacity analyses and traffic forecasting.  We settled on PTV's Traffix/Vissim bundle.  We are very happy with our switch.  I believe we are doing better analysis by using these flexible software tools (vs. our old spredsheet/Synchro/SimTraffic methods) and we are working more efficiently.

Karen Giese from PTV America has been keeping us in the loop on their development of Vistro, which is a completely new software package that will replace Traffix.  I couldn't be more excited.  Vistro will be the complete traffic analysis software the industry is currently missing.  Here are some of the key features - 

  • Faithful implementation of HCM 2010 and a half dozen other methodologies for capacity analyses.  Including traffic control warrant analyses.
  • Powerful traffic signal timing optimization.
  • Very easy to use graphical interface.
  • Seamless export to Vissim for micro-simulations for precise queue and spillback analyses.
  • Simple scenario manager to manage multiple build-out scenarios, development phasing, alternate mitigation testing.
  • Fastest path (or user defined) distribution of development traffic to the edge of the study network.
  • And the most exciting for preparing studies – complete export of tables, figures and summary reports.  This will make report assembly (and revisions) amazingly efficient.

This is going to be the complete package for doing comprehensive planning, traffic impact studies, corridor studies, and traffic signal optimization.  It will also be the middle ground between PTV's Visum macro-scopic modeling software and their Vissim micro-scopic modeling software.  The seamless integration should be very powerful.

These details are from a webinar Karen gave us last week (sorry – I promised not to share the slides).  PTV is launching Vistro at the annual ITE meeting in August and will ship the software to customers this Fall.  There will be a soft launch at the PTV user meeting this week in Minneapolis.  Karen promised to give me screenshots and more details at the user meeting.  I'll post Part 2 of this blog with more details in a couple of days.

  • Mike,
    Municipalities so often require Synchro/Sim Traffic as part of traffic study submittals. How is your approach above being received by reviewing agencies/departments?

  • Karen told me Vistro will export as Synchro, which could cover you if the jurisdiction requires your Synchro files.
    To me, Level of Service analyses per the Highway Capacity Manual should all be the same. That is why the industry has standardized on these algorithms. In Minnesota, Synchro is the default analysis package but I haven’t gotten significant pushback since we switched to Traffix a year ago.
    I think it will take some education though. Vissim is seen as a step up from Simtraffic in Minnesota, so saying we use the Traffix/Vissim suite instead of the Synchro/Simtraffic suite also lends credibility.

  • I use Traffix 8.0 for most of my traffic forecasting, but one major limitation with Traffix is its inability to route passby trips. You either have to route them by hand and input them in the “passby tab” or use another software package to do it (I use WinTASS to route passby trips) and input them in the “passby tab”. Rerouting existing trips is also a huge pain in traffix as the only way to do it is once again via the “passby tab”. If Traffix could fix these 2 issues, it would be a much better tool.
    In Virginia and DC no one uses Traffix to do capacity analyses so I can’t really comment on how it does that.

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    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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