Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working papers in Transport Economics,
CTS - Centre for Transport Studies Stockholm (KTH and VTI)

No 2016:15: Validation of reference forecasts for passenger transport

Matts Andersson (), Karin Brundell-Freij () and Jonas Eliasson ()
Additional contact information
Matts Andersson: WSP, Postal: Centrum för Transportstudier (CTS), Teknikringen 10, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
Karin Brundell-Freij: WSP, Postal: Centrum för Transportstudier (CTS), Teknikringen 10, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
Jonas Eliasson: KTH, Postal: Centrum för Transportstudier (CTS), Teknikringen 10, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: We have compared Swedish national forecasts for passenger traffic produced from 1975 to 2009 with the actual outcomes, and we found substantial differences between forecasts of passenger kilometers by mode and actual outcomes. In forecasts produced since the early 1990s, road and air traffic growth rates have generally been overpredicted, aggregate railway growth has been fairly accurate, commercial long-distance railway growth has been overpredicted, and the growth of subsidized intra-regional railway travel has been underpredicted following vast unanticipated supply increases. Focusing on car traffic forecasts, we show that a very large share of forecast errors can be explained by input variables turning out to be different than what was assumed in the forecasts. Even the original forecasts are much closer to actual outcomes than simple trendlines would have been, and once the input assumptions are corrected, the forecasts vastly outperform simple trendlines. The potential problems of using cross-sectional models for forecasting intertemporal changes thus seem to be limited. This tentative conclusion is also supported by the finding that elasticities from the cross-sectional models are consistent with those from a time-series model.

Keywords: Demand modeling; Forecast; Transport; Accuracy; Validation

JEL-codes: R41; R42

30 pages, First version: June 7, 2016. Revised: July 7, 2016.

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CTS2016-15.pdf PDF-file 

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Published as
Matts Andersson, Karin Brundell-Freij and Jonas Eliasson, (2017), 'Validation of reference forecasts for passenger transport', Transportation Research A, vol 96, pages 101-118

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