Networks and Spatial Economics

, Volume 14, Issue 3–4, pp 485–504 | Cite as

A Traffic Breakdown Model Based on Queueing Theory

  • Xiqun (Michael) Chen
  • Zhiheng Li
  • Li LiEmail author
  • Qixin Shi


In this paper, we propose a queueing model to describe traffic breakdown phenomena caused by perturbations of on-ramp merging vehicles. In congested mainline traffic flow, we assume that a merging vehicle will trigger a jam queue formulation. If this jam queue cannot dissipate before the next vehicle merges into the main road, it could grow into a wide jam and eventually result in traffic breakdown. Different from many existing models that focused on the propagation of jam waves, the proposed model emphasizes the size evolution of a jam queue (local congested vehicle cluster) instead of its spatial evolutions. This new approach reduces analysis difficulties and allows us to directly link microscopic driving behaviors with macroscopic breakdown phenomena. Test results show that the simulated breakdown probability curve (parameter tuning using Next Generation Simulation vehicular trajectories) fits with the empirical breakdown probability curve that is estimated by Performance Measurement System (PeMS) data. This indicates that this new model can account for the probability of breakdown phenomena and help us set an appropriate inflow rate so as to void breakdown and meanwhile maintain a high road capacity.


Traffic breakdown Queueing theory Newell’s simplified model Headway 



This work was supported in part by National Basic Research Program of China (973 Project) 2012CB725405, The National Science and Technology Support Program 2013BAG18B00, National Natural Science Foundation of China 51278280, 51138003.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiqun (Michael) Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhiheng Li
    • 3
    • 4
  • Li Li
    • 3
    • 5
    Email author
  • Qixin Shi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of AutomationTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Graduate School at ShenzhenTsinghua UniversityShenzhenChina
  5. 5.Tsinghua UniversityBeijingChina

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