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Estimation of Performance Indices for the Planning of Sustainable Transportation Systems

DOI: 10.1155/2013/601468

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In the context of sustainable transportation systems, previous studies have either focused only on the transportation system or have not used a methodology that enables the treatment of incomplete, vague, and qualitative information associated with the available data. This study proposes a system of systems (SOS) and a fuzzy logic modeling approach. The SOS includes the Transportation, Activity, and Environment systems. The fuzzy logic modeling approach enables the treatment of the vagueness associated with some of the relevant data. Performance Indices (PIs) are computed for each system using a number of performance measures. The PIs illustrate the aggregated performance of each system as well as the interactions among them. The proposed methodology also enables the estimation of a Composite Sustainability Index to summarize the aggregated performance of the overall SOS. Existing data was used to analyze sustainability in the entire United States. The results showed that the Transportation and Activity systems follow a positive trend, with similar periods of growth and contractions; in contrast, the environmental system follows a reverse pattern. The results are intuitive and are associated with a series of historic events, such as depressions in the economy as well as policy changes and regulations. 1. Introduction 1.1. Background With the rapid increase in economic development throughout the world, there is stress on the resources used to support global economy, including petroleum, coal, silver, and water. Currently, the world is consuming energy at an unprecedented rate never seen before. Based on data from 2005, about 30.6 billion barrels of petroleum are used annually worldwide [1]. The estimates indicate that the availability of total world reserves is in the vicinity of 1.3 trillion barrels and will be depleted by 2047 [2]. The finite nature of such nonrenewable natural resources as petroleum and coal puts pressure on the environmental system and ultimately reduces the availability of resources for future generations. Hence, it is critical to develop planning and operational strategies that seek to achieve a sustainable use of existing natural resources. The development of a sustainable system and its corresponding planning strategies requires an adequate definition of sustainability as well as mechanisms to quantify, qualify, and assess sustainability. The quantification of sustainability poses considerable challenges, ranging from data availability to adequate methods to process information. Numerous studies have established different


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