Forecasting the evolution of fast-changing transportation networks using machine learning
Transportation networks play a critical role in human mobility and the exchange of goods, but they are also the primary vehicles for the worldwide spread of infections, and account for a significant fraction of CO2 emissions. We investigate the edge removal dynamics of two mature but fast-changing transportation networks: the Brazilian domestic bus transportation network and the U.S. domestic air transportation network. We use machine learning approaches to predict edge removal on a monthly time scale and find that models trained on data for a given month predict edge removals for the same month with high accuracy. For the air transportation network, we also find that models trained for a given month are still accurate for other months even in the presence of external shocks. We take advantage of this approach to forecast the impact of a hypothetical dramatic reduction in the scale of the U.S. air transportation network as a result of policies to reduce CO2 emissions. Our forecasting approach could be helpful in building scenarios for planning future infrastructure.