McTrans Newsletter
June, 1996

Ten Year Anniversary

McTrans officially turned ten years old in May and is growing faster than ever, thanks to you, our membership. We feel extremely fortunate to continue to expand both by size and into new arenas. The support we have received from our membership individually and all the agencies and companies represented by each of you has combined to keep us going and growing. We want to express our sincere appreciation for allowing us to be a part of your operations. We hope you will continue to use the software we distribute and take advantage of our services as we all move toward new ways to stay efficient, keep you informed and communicate more effectively in this evolving arena.

Survey Results

In response to turning ten years old, we conducted a survey with our last newsletter to help us find out how we are doing. We tried to address the areas in which we interface most with our members in an effort to ascertain where we can improve, or confirm that we are doing things right. We also included an area for users to define what systems are being used now and what moves are being planned in the near future to help us better plan our software development.

Of the responses we received, the results were predominately encouraging with nearly 75% strongly agreeing or agreeing with the list of positive statements and only 6% disagreeing. About 90% of you agreed that orders were filled efficiently and the newsletter and catalog were informative resources. Although over 85% like access through our fax, 800 and e-mail, nearly 40% have not accessed our World Wide Web (WWW) site or used McFinder, our catalog on disk. Responses were consistently over 70% in agreement, with less than 10% disagreeing, with statements concerning calls for information or technical assistance being answered promptly and providing effective help.

Most users have moved into the Windows environment, either using Windows 3.1 or Window 95. Use of e-mail and the internet/WWW is growing, as are local network configurations, and most configurations have or will have CD-ROM and sound capabilities.

Our Response

We have upgraded our telephone system to get calls to the right person more quickly so you can get the answer to your question, or place your order in less time. We have just restructured our WWW Homepage to offer the complete catalog online, as well as the last year's newsletters. We are encouraging inquiries via e-mail and will soon be able to take orders online.

We are concentrating on software technical assistance by formalizing telephone logs and documentation of questions and answers. This will help us answer your questions more efficiently and take advantage of more electronic communication by expanding Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the WWW Homepage. This improved process will also allow us to better track software problems or enhancement needs for those packages for which we have development responsibilities to get updates and/or upgrades to users more effectively.

We hope to gear software development to take advantage of this evolution of hardware and operating systems, especially the shift to Windows 95. We have begun development of McT7F, the TRANSYT-7F executive, and the Highway Capacity Software (HCS) in a multi-platform code to be able to supply not only Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 versions, but also for use within UNIX and Macintosh environments.

The winner is ...

We provided an incentive to participate in our survey by offering an award of software with a value of up to $1,000 to one of the respondents selected at random. We held a drawing and selected ????, from ????, who has been awarded several packages for his efforts. Thanks to all of you who responded and helped us better understand how you perceive our software and services.

September Issue

Our next issue of the newsletter will contain an expanded version of our Annual Report covering the first ten years of operations. We will detail the growth from the beginning and highlight the significant milestones we have achieved during the past decade. Please take a look at this report in September and, as always, let us know how we can improve our service to you.

Status of Activities Toward the Delivery of a Year 2000 Highway Capacity Manual


Even though the 1994 Update to the Highway Capacity Manual has been out for only a little more than a year, the Transportation Research Board's Committee on Highway Capacity and Quality of Service is working aggressively toward the delivery of a new and more far-reaching Manual for the end of this century. Dubbed the HCM2000, this new document will reflect the results of a large number of recently-started and practically-oriented research efforts. These research activities are specifically designed to address the most pressing needs of the user community.

At its 1995 midsummer meeting in Tucson, the Committee adopted position statements on 10 key issues that will be critical in defining the content of HCM2000:

1) LOS A through E will be defined by a single measure of effectiveness (MOE) for each facility type. This single MOE is also referred to as the primary MOE.

2) The primary MOE will be related to the users' perception of the quality of service.

3) LOS F is defined to occur when either the primary MOE exceeds some pre-defined threshold, or when demand exceeds capacity.

4) Ideally, all primary MOE's will have the following attributes:

they are perceivable by the facility user

they are measurable or can be derived using measurable factors

they can be well defined for HCM users

they are sensitive to changes in traffic, roadway, and control conditions

5) The chapter for each facility type should include as many additional performance measures as practical to provide additional information about highway operations and to provide links to broader evaluation, such as environmental, economic, or safety analyses, and to demand forecasting.

6) The primary MOE or at least one of the additional performance measures shall be a time-dimension related measure, such as travel time, speed or delay.

7) The Committee recognizes that the quality of operation at a facility influences demand. Nevertheless, modeling of demand changes due to operating conditions is outside the scope of the HCM.

8) It is desirable that some of the performance measure or primary MOE's will allow route, network, or other combined performance assessment.

9) The HCM will provide advice on the analysis time period. Analysis period will be included as an input parameter where applicable.

10) Although the Committee recognizes the importance of variations of inputted, computer, and measured values, current information is not adequate in all cases. This issue will be addressed as part of general principles only, but future research should strive to obtain this information.

The Committee will periodically revisit these key issues as the results of the background research when the new chapters become available.

Various means are also being explored for facilitating communication between the Committee and the HCM user community. FHWA is generously providing support to the Committee in this regard, particularly in the form of its HCM Advantage newsletter, which is issued periodically throughout the year. Additionally, the Committee has endorsed the establishment of a world wide web site for the dissemination and/or collection of information about the Committee's activities. Efforts are now being undertaken to establish this web site.

The Committee's 1996 mid-year meeting will be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida. If you are interested in attending, please contact Rick Dowling at (510) 839-1742 for more information.

Following is a summary of current and ongoing Committee activities.


The draft of a new Chapter 3 (Basic Freeway Segments) has been prepared and is currently being reviewed by the responsible NCHRP Panel and also by Committee members. This new chapter reflects the results of NCHRP Project 3-45, and results in greater consistency with the multi-lane highways analysis procedure described in Chapter 7 of the 1994 update.

Two-Lane Roads

The subcommittee on two-lane roads is devoting its efforts to technical support of the research that has recently begun in NCHRP Project 3-55(3), "Capacity and Quality of Service of Two-Lane Highways". As part of the research, a survey of HCM users is currently underway seeking user input in identifying needs for improvement of the analysis procedures of Chapter 8 of the Highway Capacity Manual. The subcommittee has provided input to the research team concerning appropriate service measures for two-lane roads and the development of an improved conceptual framework for capacity and quality of service analysis of two-lane roads. The research will be completed by mid-1998 and will produce a revised and expanded version of the existing Chapter 8 for incorporation into HCM 2000.

Signalized Intersections

The Signalized Intersection Subcommittee has been quite active in recent years, producing a major update to Chapter 9 of the HCM in the 1994 revision to that document. 1995 was spent responding to the limited interpretations which were requested for that update and working with McTrans to coordinate HCM software improvements so that it faithfully replicates the HCM methodologies.

The Signalized Intersections Subcommittee is now working on another update to the chapter, which will have as it primary improvement a superior model for the analysis of intersections controlled by actuated signals. This will result in improved assessments of actuated signal performance and the impacts of various actuation design changes. Another major change will be an enhancement of the delay equation to better account for oversaturated conditions. A number of other relatively minor enhancements are also expected to improve some of the more subtle aspects of the chapter's analysis procedures.

Unsignalized Intersections

Even as enhanced unsignalized intersection analysis procedures were being distributed within the 1994 update ot the HCM, the first major research project funded on this topic in the United States was underway. This NCHRP-funded project (NCHRP Project 3-46, Analysis of Unsignalized Intersections) is now nearing completion, and is expected to result in significant enhancements to the current methods for analysis of unsignalized intersections. Key among these improvements for two-way stop-controlled intersections will be revised critical gap and follow-up time estimates based on U.S. observations, an improved method for estimating the effects of upstream traffic signals, a new technique for evaluating the effects of center refuge areas on the major street, a method for estimating the delay to following through vehicles when the major street left turn movement shares the same lane, and a method for estimating the capacity-reducing effects of pedestrians and bicycles. The all-way stop-controlled intersection analysis procedure has also been improved, primarily in the range of conditions under which it is valid, and also through more comprehensive consideration of the complete range of turn movement combinations. General guidance will also be provided in the capacity evaluation of existing or proposed roundabouts, using methodologies developed in other countries and adapted for use in the United States.

Urban/Suburban Arterials

The Urban and Suburban Arterials Subcommittee is involved in a number of activities including tracking the status of ongoing research, preparing an update to Chapter 11 that will be included in the next update to the HCM, preparing a series of sample problems to better illustrate application of the planning and operations analysis procedures in Chapter 11 of the 1994 HCM, and recommending enhancements to the HCM2000.

The major research projects currently underway are FHWA 92-C-0071, Delay Models for Chapters 9 and 11, NCTRP A-7, Analysis of Bus Lanes on Arterial Streets, and NCHRP 3-49, Capacity of Mid-Block Left-Turn Lanes. The final reports of all of these projects will be submitted in 1996.

The subcommittee is currently preparing draft modifications for the next update to the HCM. The most significant modifications will be the incorporation of recommended revisions to the delay equations resulting from the FHWA Project 92-C-0071, Delay Models for Chapters 9 and 11.

Subcommittee members are also preparing a number of sample problems to better illustrate application of the planning and operations procedures included in the 1994 update. These sample problems can also serve as benchmark for reviewing existing and new computational procedures. Electronic versions of these sample problems may soon be posted on the World Wide Web for downloading and review by HCM users.


A number of research activities are currently underway that are expected to influence the content of HCM2000. One of these is studying the effects of crossing pedestrians on left-turn movements at signalized intersections. This project, being conducted by North Carolina State University, aims to develop a left-turn adjustment factor that accounts for pedestrian blocking effects on the left-turn maneuver at signalized intersections. The project is expected to be completed by April 1997.

Another project that is currently underway is investigating the effects of through bicycles on right-turning vehicles. This project is also being conducted by North Carolina State University, and will develop a right-turn adjustment factor that accounts for the effects of conflicting bicycle movements. Data collection will commence in the spring of 1996, and the project is expected to be completed by April 1997.

Bicycle flow characteristics and bicycle/pedestrian flow characteristics on separated paths are being studies in a third research project. Northwestern University Traffic Institute has initiated this study, which is expected to be completed by April 1997.


The Transit Subcommittee at the 1996 TRB meeting sponsored a workshop to review with the Highway Capacity Committee and other interested parties the recent transit capacity research funded through TCRP, as well as a possible future transit capacity research program. The research projects that have been recently completed or are soon to be completed include TCRP Project A-7, Bus Lanes on Arterial Streets; TCRP A-8, Rail Transit Capacity; and TCRP A-10, Location and Design Guidelines for Bus Stops. In conjunction with the Transit Subcommittee, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) developed a broad research statement for the 1996 TCRP program that identified over $2 million in specific transit capacity research needs as well as a proposal to develop a separate Transit Capacity Manual.

Of the proposed FTA research statement, TCRP approved $250,000 to fund the A-15 project for 1996-97, Development of Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Principles, Practices, and Procedures. This research project will establish a framework plan for required changes in the Transit Chapter 12 of the HCM for the year 200 update of the manual, as well as identify an outline for a separate Transit Capacity Manual. The Transit Subcommittee is currently discussing on how best to provide input to the project panel on the development of a work program for this research effort.


The Highway Capacity Committee is continuing with its plans for full conversion of the Highway Capacity Manual to metric units by the year 2000, when the HCM2000 is scheduled to be published. In the interim and with support from FHWA, the Committee is developing a metric users guide for the HCM. It is expected that this guide will be available to users sometime in 1997.

HCS News

Patch "c" for release 2 of the Highway Capacity Software (HCS) is ready! This patch was made available on the McTrans Homepage ( and McLink (352-392-3225) in May and notices were sent to all registered users. Those users who requested disks with previous patches were sent a disk automatically.

This update is cumulative of previous patches and corrects several modules. The most significant changes are to HCS-Unsignal, not updated since the original release a year ago.

For your information, the electronic updating process has been extremely successful. Over 1,500 users have received patch "b" with about 1,200 of those downloading the file electronically. More of you are using the World Wide Web site to access the updates, with activity on McLink dropping off.

We hope this process has succeeded in getting you updated versions more quickly and more conveniently. Please continue to access our web site as we are constantly updating information and adding new features, including the complete catalog now on line!

New Products



License Plate Data Analysis Package

The LPlate package is used to enter and analyze data from License Plate or Tag surveys. The package includes programs that facilitate Data Entry, Data Matching and Reporting.

Data Entry is accomplished with a stand alone program that may be installed on multiple machines. This permits the organization using the software to use many workstations at once, without requiring an additional license. The Data Entry program will automatically fill the data fields that are repetitive, such as Station Number, Year, Month, Day and Time. Other fields available for entry are Vehicle Type, State and License Plate Number. The editor keeps track of the number of entries and the time and filename when the data was last saved. The data is saved in ASCII format for easy editing or importing into other programs.

The Data Matching program will allow matching of a virtually unlimited number of entries from over 100 stations. The license plate data can be matched based upon an input set of travel times at once. In addition, the frequency of time between matches can be saved. This permits analysis of time spend in the area between input and output stations. Up to six matching stations can be analyzed for trip length frequency distribution profiles at a time.

Matching can be limited to specific time periods, license plate data entry lengths, states and vehicle types. Summary files can be created showing the arrival volumes by time period by vehicle type. Summary time periods can be set at 5, 10, 15, 30 or 60 minute intervals.

A Match list file can be saved which shows the license plat numbers that matched the limiting specification, or did not match. This list of license plate numbers can be used to profile the auto registration information for further studies or marketing purposes.

Also included are programs to enter or edit the base travel time specifications and examine and print the trip tables showing the number of trips between the entry and exit stations. Trip length frequency distributions can be displayed graphically and printed for future use.

LPlateTM is available for only $775. If you have current TMODEL2 maintenance, your price is only $450. Included is the disk containing the software for use on unlimited number of computers at one location, documentation explaining the features, and toll-free technical support. Updates are included for one year from date of purchase. Consulting to assist with your specific data is also available. The standard $15 shipping and handling charge (sand sales tax for WA) applies to each order.

Left-Turn Signal/Phase Warrant Program

A major factor in signalized intersection analysis is the impact of left turns. Left-turn conflicts are a principle of problems. With heavy opposing traffic, the left-turn driver may have difficulty in executing this maneuver. In general, as the left-turning volume and opposing through traffic volume increase, a point is reached where it is difficult for left-turning traffic to find adequate gaps. At this point the Traffic Engineer must consider a separate left turn lane and a separate left-turn signal phase. A separate left turn lane may alleviate the problem to some extent by providing storage for turning vehicles. If a problem still exists, the Traffic Engineer should consider providing separate left-turn phasing.

The major advantage of a separate left-turn phase is that it is usually safer than permitted left turns. Disadvantages of a separate left-turn phase are: it may decrease intersection efficiency (i.e. reduces capacity), results in longer cycle length, reduces progression in systems and increases delay and percent of vehicles stopping.


The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) (See Reference 1) does not provide left-turn phasing guidelines. The Traffic Control Devices Handbook (See Reference 2) presents the following guidelines when considering separate left-turn phasing:

VOLUME-Consider left-turn phasing when the product of left-turning and opposing volumes during the peak hours exceed 100,000 on a four-lane street or 50,000 on a two-lane street.

Also, the left turn volume must be greater than two vehicles per cycle during the peak-hour period. Volumes meeting these levels indicate that further study of the intersection is required.

DELAY-Install left-turn phasing if a left-turn delay of 2.0 vehicle-hours or more occurs in a peak hour on a critical approach. Also, there must be a minimum left-turn volume of greater than two per cycle during the peak hour, and the average delay per left-turning vehicle must be at least 35 seconds.

ACCIDENT EXPERIENCE-Install left-turn phasing if the critical number of left-turn accidents has occurred. For one approach the critical number is four left-turn accidents in 1 year or six in 2 years. For both approaches, the critical number is six left-turning accidents in 1 year or ten in 2 years.

The Left-Turn Signal/Phase Warrant computer program was developed to automate the data input and analysis process. The DOS program, which will run on an IBM compatible computer, contains the following on-screen modules: LOAD, SCREEN, PRINT, SAVE, ALL CLEAR, ZERO COUNTS, QUIT and HELP. The computer program allows up to 12 hours of through and left-turn count data to be entered and analyzed. The program calculates the peak hour product of the left-turn volume and the opposing through volume for each hour. To meet the volume warrant, the peak hour product must be greater than 100,00 for a 2 or more lane approach or greater than 50,000 for a 1 lane approach. Other parameters calculated and/or evaluated by the program are:

1. Whether the approach speed in greater than or equal to 45 mph.

2. Whether the left-turn volume is greater than 50 vehicles per hour when through traffic speed exceeds 45 mph.

3. The actual peak hour left-turn volume in vehicles per cycle per approach.

4. Whether the left-turn peak period volume is greater than 2 vehicles per cycle per approach still waiting at the end of green (for permitted signals).

5. Cycles per hour are calculated from the cycle length.