An Appraisal of Sustainable Urban Transportation: Application of a System Dynamics Model

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Imam Khomeini ‎International University, Qazvin, Iran

2 MSc. Grad, Department of Civil Engineering, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial Engineering, Islamic Azad University, South Tehran Branch, Iran


Increasing pressures caused by negative consequences of transportation and traffic problems in major cities, have resulted many attempts towards improvement of planning and management of transportation systems, according to sustainability objectives. In this paper, a comprehensive model is developed using a system dynamics approach to evaluate sustainable urban transportation. This model includes social, economical, environmental, and urban transportation variables. Then, the validation of the model according to actual data for years 1994 to 2009 of City of Mashhad are performed. The base year for simulation was 2009 and the horizon year was 2044. This stage is very important because all of the analyses and decisions made in the following steps will be based on the calibrated model. The sensitivity analysis of the parameters of the model showed that the selected variables have considerable influences on urban transportation sustainability. The proposed model can be used to find the optimal strategy for sustainable urban transportation.


- ASTRA. (1999) “Design and specification of a system dynamics model”, ASTRA Deliverable 2.
- Bakhshandeh, R, Shahgholian, K, and Shahraki, A. (2013) “Model for reduce flights delays using system dynamics (Case study in Iranian Airports Company)”, Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, January, 4(9): pp.746-757.
- Chen, M. C., Ho, T. P., Jan, C. G. (2006) “A System Dynamics Model of Sustainable Urban Development: Assessing Air Purification Policies at Taipei City”. Asian Pacific Planning Review 4(1): 29-52. 
- Deputy of Energy Affairs. (2003) “Energy balance sheet 2002 (in Persian)”, Tehran, Iran Ministry of Energy.
- Development Committee (1987) “Environment, growth and development”, Washington, D.C. U.S.A., Joint Ministerial Committee of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on the Transfer of Real Resources to Developing Countries (Development Committee): Available from the World Bank Sales Unit.
- Duffill Watts PTE Ltd. (2012) “Mashhad Traffic Restricted Area Revision and Extension Study Model Application – Technical Note”, Traffic & transportation Organization Mashhad, Mashhad.
- Habibian, M. and Ostadi Jafari, M. (2013) “Assessing the role of transportation demand management policies on urban air pollution: A case study of Mashhad, Iran”, U.S.
- Iran Symposium on Air Pollution in Megacities, National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, Beckman Center in Irvine, CA, 3-5th Sep, CA, USA.
- Institute for Transportationation Studies and Research (1995) “Forecasting travel demand for 2001”. Mashhad Comprehensive Urban Transportationation Planning. Tehran, Iran, The Institute for Transportationation Studies & Research, Report No. 7604
- Khalatbary, F. and Atwan, M. (2008) “A strategic look at energy economics in transportation action sector (in Persian)”, Tehran, Iran, Shadan.
- Khisty, C. J. and Lall, B. K. (2003) “Transportationation engineering: an introduction”, Upper Saddle River, N.J., Prentice Hall. -Litman, T. (2009) “Transportationation cost and benefit analysis II – Vehicle costs” www.
- Naderan, Ali and Shahi, Jalil (2010) “Aggregate crash prediction models: Introducing crash generation concept”. Accident Analysis & Prevention 42(1): 339-346.
- Ortuzar, D. and Willumsen, L. G. (1998) “Modelling transportation”, John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
- Rassafi, A. A., Poorzahedy, H. and Vaziri, M. (2006) “An alternative definition of sustainable development using stability and chaos theories”. Sustainable Development 14(1): 62-71.
- Rassafi, A. A. and Vaziri, M. (2005) “Sustainable transportation indicators: Definition and Integration”. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology 2(1): 83-96. 
- Rassafi, A. A. and Vaziri, M. (2007) “Assessment of modal transportation action sustainability: Application of data envelopment and concordance analyses”. Iranian Journal of Science and Technology Transaction B-Engineering 31(B2): 179-193.
- Schade, W. and Rothengatter, W. (1999) “Long-term assessment of transportation policies to achieve sustainability”. The 4th European Congress on Systems Science. Valencia, Spain.
- Sterman, J. (2000) “Business dynamics: systems thinking and modeling for a complex world”, Boston, Irwin/McGraw-Hill.
- Tehran’s Transportationation and Traffic Studies (1996) “The final structure of transportation action model for Tehran in EMME/2 environment (in Persian)”, Tehran’s Transportationation Comprehensive Plan. Tehran, Iran. Report No. 117.
- Vakili, K., Isaai, M. T. and Barsari, A. J. (2008) “Strategic assessment of transportation action demand management policies: Tehran Case Study”, The 2008 International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Athens, Greece.
- Ventana System Inc. (2009) “Vensim® PLE, Personal Learning Edition User’s Guide, Version 3.0”. - Wang, J., Lu, H. and Peng, H. (2008) “System dynamics model of urban transportation action system and its application”, Journal of Transportation action Systems Engineering and Information Technology 8(3): pp.83-89.
- World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) “Our common future”, London, Oxford University Press.
- Zhang, L. and Wei, Y. (2013) “The definition and connotation of the sustainable urban transport”, Applied Mechanics and Materials (Volumes 253 - 255): 254-262, Available from: