Having accepted the need for the development of simpler and less cumbersome transport demand models, the paper concentrates on one possible line for simplification: estimation of trip matrices from link volume counts. Traffic counts are particularly attractive as a data basis for modelling because of their availability, low cost and nondisruptive character. It is first established that in normal conditions it may be possible to find more than one trip matrix which, when loaded onto a network, reproduces the observed link volumes. The paper then identifies three approaches to reduce this underspecification problem and produce a unique trip matrix consistent with the counts. The first approach consists of assuming that trip-making behaviour can be explained by a gravity model whose parameters can be calibrated from the traffic counts. Several forms of this gravity model have been put forward and they are discussed in Section 3. The second approach uses mathematical programming techniques associated to equilibrium assignment problems to estimate a trip matrix in congested areas. This method can also be supplemented by a special distribution model developed for small areas. The third approach relies on entropy and information theory considerations to estimate the most likely trip matrix consistent with the observed flows. A particular feature of this group is that they can include prior, perhaps outdated, information about the matrix.
These three approaches are then compared and their likely areas for application identified. Problems for further research are discussed and finally an assessment is made of the possible role of these models vis-a-vis recent developments in transport planning.