Traffic Management at Mega Events: Challenges and User-oriented Solutions

Traffic Management at Mega Events: Challenges and User-oriented Solutions


Elmar Fürst, WU Vienna, Magdalena Dalagianis, WU Vienna


Large sports games, festivals, etc. have a substantial impact on traffic. Participants and local residents are affected. We present case studies of seven mega events discuss communalities and differences and derive implications for future planning.


Mega events like large sports events, huge fairs and exhibitions, music festivals and other types of time-limited mass events have substantial impact on urban traffic before, during and even after the respective event. Several stakeholders’ interests and the actual conditions of the site and the available infrastructure have to be taken into account. Events differ in terms of several characteristics, such as the number of participants (in absolute figures and in relation to the number of residents and the available space), the catchment area, the entrance policy, the time when the event takes place, as well as in the number and size of sites, the existing infrastructure and the origin of guests, to name but a few. Depending on these characteristics and the type of event, several requirements on organising transport and traffic will therefore apply. In addition to the local residents – who have to bear restrictions, congestion and diversions during everyday life - traffic planners have to consider the needs of spectators, participants, event organizers, and other possibly relevant stakeholders involved.

Conducting a multiple case study analysis, we examined the characteristics of seven large events in Germany and Austria combined with approaches to practical solutions and the thereby arising problems in the planning, the execution and the follow-up phase. As a comprehensive and holistic picture should be gathered, we decided in favour of a multiple case study approach as it enabled us to depict all relevant aspects on an individual basis. For these purposes, we used a combination of primary and secondary data for the analysis and provide a comprehensive comparison in form of a cross case analysis, eventually.

As a result, we found that particularly for large events insufficient local infrastructure and limited capacity on the roads (including parking lots) as well as in public transport constitute the biggest problems. Furthermore, huge masses of visitors will require organisers to put disproportionately more emphasis on ensuring safety for both visitors and residents while simultaneously keeping things going.

Regarding the catchment area, more difficulties are associated with events with a worldwide catchment area – one reason for this is that these events are regularly also the larger ones. Events with unrestricted access are more difficult to handle as traffic planners have to rely on estimations or past experiences regarding participation volumes. Another very influential aspect is the time an event takes place. During the working week, it is highly likely that - due to the intersection with regular commuter traffic - there will be more congestions than during the weekend or public holidays. By respecting these and other circumstances, an event organiser can take some influence on the impact the event will have on traffic and transport.

It can be concluded that each event is influenced by a multitude of internal and external partly highly specific factors. Thus, it will not always be possible to provide general guidelines or recommendations for all types of events. Nevertheless, it was noticeable that events with improved accessibility to public transport regularly required a simpler traffic concept than those mainly accessible by individual transport, only. Equally, measures to encourage eco-friendly mobility and social compatibility including accessibility by the disabled are universally applicable to all events.

Instead of giving general advice for particular event types, some guidelines for specific situations could be compiled. However, each event has its own characteristics that need to be taken into account. Therefore, an ideal traffic concept consists of a combination of measures deduced from these two considerations. On this basis, the paper gives implications for future events.


Association for European Transport