Tag Archives: traffic congestion

Technology Used To Improve Traffic Flow And Road Safety

MARTA project. (Credit: Image courtesy of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya)

The Research Group in Mathematical Programming, Logistics and Simulation (PROMALS) and the Seat Chair of Innovation and Sustainable Development (Seat-UPC) create technological solutions to improve traffic flow, make driving safer and more comfortable, lower the accident rate and reduce traffic congestion and emissions of contaminant gases.

New advances will see vehicles equipped with sensors and interfaces which gather information on the traffic situation and display it on screen or alert the driver through automated voice announcements. The Seat-UPC Chair is involved in designing and fitting human machine interfaces (HMIs) and running automated tests of the electronic systems used in the MARTA project, which incorporate new technologies such as specialized image recognition applications.

New on-board sensors will be able to monitor the status of mechanical components such as brakes when a vehicle is in motion, while others will provide automatic control of driving speed and the distance maintained from the vehicle in front. Interfaces will enable data to be shared between vehicles, providing updated information on their position and speed every 200 meters. A system of nodes installed in the road network transmits the data to a mobility management center, where they are processed and used to maintain traffic flow by providing real-time information on congestion spots and suggesting optimum routes in the event of an accident.

The PROMALS group, attached to the Department of Statistics and Operations Research at the UPC, is looking at ways of using the data received by the management center. Its researchers are designing simulated traffic scenarios in which to test the new technologies developed under the MARTA project: a recent example is a traffic priority system in which the real-time data are used to determine the ideal intervals between traffic light phases across a given area, which optimizes traffic flow and reduces congestion.

The MARTA project has a budget of over thirty-five million euros and receives funding from the Center for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI). The project, scheduled for completion in 2011, is coordinated by the company FICOSA as part of a wider program run by the National Strategic Consortium in Technical Research (CENIT), and brings together experts and researchers from nineteen companies and nineteen scientific centers and national universities.

Source : sciencedaily

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The Costs of Congestion

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So what are the true costs of congestion? It seems as if nobody really knows. At a recent Transport Select Committee evidence session into road user charging, MPs seemed less than satisfied with the answers they received. The CBI has estimated that congestion costs the economy approximately £20 billion. With 40% of congestion in London, this fits with TfL’s figure of £7-8 billion. However, the Committee appeared extremely sceptical about the exact quantification of the monetary value of congestion.

Moreover, the results of proposed charging schemes will not always produce the desired resuts. It has become clear that in the last three years any reduction in congestion as a result of the central London charging zone has effectively been eradicated by the reduction in road capacity, owing to road works and essential maintenance carried out by the utility companies. This has meant that levels of congestion have slowly crept back towards pre-2003 levels despite the fact that there is approximately 20 per cent less traffic entering the central London zone. Hence, Kulveer Ranger, Director of Transport at TfL, has called for a coordinated implementation of transport policies that complement the existence of the congestion zone.

Whilst the Department for Transport has not itself made an official measure of the costs of congestion, it has questioned the £20 billion estimate and suggests that a national road pricing scheme could achieve ‘time’ savings of £10 billion a year. It appears that no consistent methodology has been applied, whilst there have been criticisms of the value which the DfT places upon time. Hauliers are not alone in believing that ‘time’ should mean the period it takes to get a product onto the shop shelf.

Road user groups often make the argument that motorists pay more in transport-related taxes than the Government invests in transport services. However, road transport imposes many different costs on society, some of which are borne by the road user, but others are borne by society at large. Consequently, there will always be calls for the ‘polluter pays’ principle, yet such a policy would be problematic politically. Whilst it is necessary to recognise that taxes raised from one sector of industry may be passed on to vital areas such as health and education, it is essential that such a process is transparent so that taxpayers can see where their money has been invested. Although the public may support investment in the public transport network they are unlikely to accept any new, additional tax on motoring – congestion charging or otherwise – until such investments are delivered. This is a lesson from Manchester.

Some of the costs of congestion such as inefficiency, missed appointments, late arrivals, and overrun schedules are borne by employers. Yet it is employees who bear the costs of commuting, accounting for a quarter of the costs of motoring, which the Telecommuting 2000 research project estimates to be £13.5 billion in total per year. According to the project, each year employers lose at least £20 billion through congestion, and employees pay £13.5 billion to commute by car, making a much higher estimate than the CBI’s, of £33.5 billion per year. It is worthy of note that such estimates do not even consider the effects on the environment, on employees’ health or the “work/life balance”. It is also unclear what price of a barrel of oil has been used in these estimates. Consequenlty, the true costs of congestion may be much higher than anyone has even dared to ‘guestimate’.

Source : http://www.transportinfo.org.uk

Photo : http://images.drive.com.au

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BRTS prototype makes a quiet entry in Ahmedabad India

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3 Jan 2009, 0545 hrs IST, TNN

Ahmedabad : On Friday afternoon, a prototype of Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) glided noiselessly into the swanky GMDC bus stop on a trial run. Blame it on high expectations, deadline pressures or steel price rise, Ahmedabad’s first real BRTS bus, somehow did not look like what was promised.

BRTS has been hailed as a solution to traffic congestion. The double-door diesel bus that Amdavadis saw on Friday had metallic silver interiors, bearing a Tata chassis, with a capacity to seat 35 and space for 50 passengers to stand. Its body has been made by Ahmedabad-based Charted Speed Private Limited in Sarkhej.

Curious passers-by stopped to look at the machine that ran on the most impressive stretch of BRTS corridor so far, along the 132-feet Ring Road. The swankier part of the bus includes a ticketing system using a smart card reader installed at the door.

Municipal commissioner IP Gautam who addressed mediapersons from the bus stop, said, “From next week onwards we will start regular trials of BRTS buses on this stretch. We are also awaiting inputs from public about any design changes or requirements in the structure.”

Conceptualised three years ago, Ahmedabad Janmarg Limited (AJL), a special purpose vehicle set up by AMC, Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority(AUDA) and Gujarat government, will govern BRTS operations. Two of the proven BRT successes are Trans Millenio in Bogota, capital of Colombia and Curitiba in Brazil.

About compromise on capacity of the bus as against initial planning, a senior AMC official said, “High capacity bus would have cost us around Rs 50 to 60 lakh while this one cost us Rs 27 lakh without compromising much on comfort. Buses will be accessible to physically challenged as well.” City mayor Kanaji Thakore said, “BRTS bus will improve travelling facilities in city.”

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Source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Photos and pictues : http://www.skyscrapercity.com, http://www.itdp.org,

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Congestion Charge in London (1)

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photo : AP and telegraph.co.uk

About the Congestion Charge

Vehicles which drive within a clearly defined zone of central London between the hours of 07:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday, have to pay an £8 daily Congestion Charge.

Payment of the charge allows you to enter, drive within, and exit the Charging Zone as many times as you wish on that day.

The charge aims to reduce traffic congestion and improve journey times by encouraging people to choose other forms of transport if possible.

Some individuals and vehicles are exempt from payment, or can claim a discount on the charge.

All monies raised from Congestion Charging are spent on London’s transport facilities.

Benefits

More than five years after the Congestion Charge was launched, and over a year after the Western Extension began, traffic levels are still down but congestion has risen back to pre-charging levels.

However, congestion would be significantly worse without the sustained traffic reductions brought about by the charge.

Decreasing levels of road space in both the original charging zone and Western Extension has caused congestion to return to levels experienced before the charge was introduced.

A widespread programme of water and gas main replacement works has greatly reduced the road capacity in both zones, as have various traffic management measures to assist pedestrians and other road users.

One of the biggest current contributory factors within the Western Extension is a major property development at the Scotch House Corner junction in Knightsbridge.

By law, all net revenue raised by the charge has to be invested in improving transport in London.

Since the Congestion Charge scheme started:

  • Traffic entering the original charging zone remains 21 per cent lower than pre-charge levels (70,000 fewer cars a day)
  • Traffic entering the Western Extension has fallen by 14 per cent (30,000 fewer cars a day)
  • There has been a six per cent increase in bus passengers during charging hours
  • There has been a 12 per cent increase in cycle journeys into the Western Extension
  • £137m being raised, in the financial year 2007/08, to invest back into improving transport in London

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photo : http://www.london-congestion-charge.co.uk

Background

Traffic congestion clogs up roads, threatens businesses and damages London’s status as a thriving world city.

When the Mayor took office in 2000:

  • London suffered the worst traffic congestion in the UK and amongst the worst in Europe
  • Drivers in central London spent 50% of their time in queues
  • Every weekday morning, the equivalent of 25 busy motorway lanes of traffic tried to enter central London
  • It was estimated that London lost between £2-4 million every week in terms of lost time caused by congestion

The Mayor’s election manifesto included a pledge to tackle congestion. Following his election the scheme was fine-tuned in order to meet demands from businesses, residents and a large number of other interested groups.

In February 2002 the final form of the scheme was announced, and the charge was introduced in February 2003. In February 2007 the charging zone was extended Westwards.

Congestion Charging is part of a wider, comprehensive transport strategy, which was published in July 2001.

(source : Transport for London website)

Related topic read here.

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Texas State Bicycle Survey Reveals Danger Concerns, Cycling Perceptions

Chandra Bhat poses with bicycles at The University of Texas. (Credit: Photo By: Beverly Barrett)

ScienceDaily ( Dec. 15, 2008 ) — Bicyclists in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are more concerned with being involved in vehicle crashes compared to bicyclists in other Texas cities, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Transportation Research at The University of Texas at Austin.

“This is quite intuitive, given the high levels of traffic congestion in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio,” said Professor Chandra Bhat, who spearheaded the survey and is one of the world’s foremost authorities on travel behavior.

In addition, almost 70 percent of the survey respondents feel bicycling is “very dangerous” or “somewhat dangerous” in terms of traffic accidents. In contrast, only 21 percent of respondents feel bicycling is “somewhat dangerous” or “very dangerous” in the context of crime.

The survey, sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, was conducted entirely online. The results should help establish planning guidelines for the design of safe and efficient bicycle facilities and environments in Texas and around the country.

Respondents were 18 years or older living in more than 100 Texas cities. The sample included 1,605 bicyclists, of which 810 (or slightly more than 50 percent) used their bikes for commuting. The remaining 795 bicycled only for non-commuting purposes. Each group was presented with questions pertaining to their particular habits.

Bhat said the transportation sector accounts for about one-third of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Within that sector, travel by personal vehicles accounts for nearly two-thirds of those emissions. And only 0.9 percent of all trips in the United States are made by bicycle, and the number drops to 0.4 percent for commute trips — despite the fact that a significant amount of trips are deemed short-distance and can be made using a bike. A 2001 National Household Travel Survey revealed that 41 percent of all trips in 2001 were shorter than two miles and 28 percent were shorter than one mile.

Bhat’s research attempts to understand the reasons for the low bicycling use and inform the development of appropriate and effective strategies to increase bicycling, thereby cutting down motorized vehicle use and carbon dioxide emissions while promoting a healthier, more physically active lifestyle.

One finding that may have immediate relevance is that individuals who have a more positive perception of the quality of bicycle facilities have a higher propensity to bicycle to work. In October, Congress passed the Bicycle Commuter Act (as part of the bailout package), which starting in January will give companies a tax credit of up to $20 a month per employee who bicycles to work.

However, only about 14 percent of commuter bicyclists report the presence of bicycle lockers or safe storage rooms at their work place, and 72 percent of commuter bicyclists indicate they travel on unsigned roadways during their commute.

“The frequency and use of bicycling to work can potentially be increased by having bicycle lockers, bicycle racks and showers at work,” Bhat said.

He also said two other viable ways to increase bicycling include: land-use strategies to encourage compact developments to reduce commute distances and education/information campaigns to highlight the environmental, financial and health benefits of bicycling.

Bhat and his graduate students, Ipek Sener and Naveen Eluru,will present this research at the National Transportation Research Board Meeting on Jan. 12 in Washington, D.C. His research is supported by the Adnan Abou-Ayyash Centennial Professorship in Transportation Engineering.

Other survey findings:

  • Individuals living in Austin, Bryan and Fort Worth are more satisfied with the quality of bicycle facilities than bicyclists living in the rest of the state.
  • Bicyclists prefer no parking on their route, which is logical because parking reduces sight distance. If parking is necessary, they prefer angled parking over parallel parking.
  • Men and young bicyclists perceive the bicycle facilities in their community to be better than do women and older bicyclists.
  • The commute distance of those who bicycle to work ranges from one-fourth of a mile to 35 miles. The average is about 6.5 miles.
  • Bicycling is more common for non-commute reasons than for commuting. Those who bicycle to work tend to be young and environmentally conscious. Also, men are more likely to bike than women, regardless of the purpose of the bicycle trip.
  • Fitness and health concerns, followed by leisure, are the most compelling reasons for bicycling.

Adapted from materials provided by University of Texas at Austin.

Source : sciencedaily.com

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Congestion on inter-urban roads in UK

Monthly provisional estimates: October 2008
(Includes revised data for March-September 2008)

The latest monthly National Statistics on congestion on inter-urban roads in England produced by the Department for Transport, according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

The inter-urban network consists of all motorways and trunk ‘A’ roads managed by the Highways Agency, as well as the M6 Toll. This is also known as the Strategic Road Network (SRN).

The indicator used to monitor reliability is the average delay in minutes per 10 miles (derived from the differences between observed journey times and a reference journey time) experienced on the slowest 10 per cent of journeys for each monitored route.

  • A recent review of data quality has allowed the number of routes included in the measure to be increased from 91 to 95 routes for the year ending March 2008 onwards (see Note 1). The following refers to the set of 95 routes unless otherwise stated.
  • Provisional figures for the year ending October 2008 show that average vehicle delay on the slowest 10 per cent of journeys fell to 3.61 from 3.90 minutes per 10 miles since the CSR07 baseline year ending March 2008, a decrease of 7.3 per cent.  This covers a period of 7 months and represents an annual decrease of 12.3 per cent.
  • The final figure for the year ending September 2008 is an average vehicle delay of 3.63 minutes per 10 miles, which is a decrease of 7.0 per cent from the CSR07 baseline year.

Journey time reliability measure on the Strategic Road Network

Journey time reliability measure on the Strategic Road Network.

Notes

1. The data quality for all 103 routes has recently been reviewed. Improvements in data quality have now allowed an additional five routes to be included for the year ending March 2008 onwards, but recent deterioration of data on one route (M1 J6a-13) has led to it being temporarily excluded.  As a result the total number of routes included has been increased from 91 to 95 routes for the year ending March 2008 onwards.  The previously published data for years ending March 2008 to September 2008 have been revised, and there is now a small discontinuity with earlier periods.

2. The effect of the increase in the number of routes is to change the baseline figure of average vehicle delay for the year ending March 2008 to 3.90 minutes per 10 miles for 95 routes, compared with 3.95 for 91 routes.  The figure for the year ending September 2008 is amended to 3.63 minutes per 10 miles for 95 routes from 3.67 minutes per 10 miles for 91 routes.

3. For the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 (CSR07), the Department has a Public Service Agreement (PSA) to deliver reliable and efficient transport networks that support economic growth. One of the four indicators used to measure success against this PSA is reliability, measured using average vehicle delay on the SRN’s slowest 10% of journeys.  The baseline is the year ending March 2008, and the measure will be monitored for the period up to the year ending March 2011.  Reliability performance will be assessed in the context of an expected increase in traffic of 1-2% per year. There is no specific numerical target.

4. For the Spending Review 2004 (SR04), there was a PSA target that the average vehicle delay on the SRN’s slowest 10% of journeys should be less in the year ending March 2008 than in the baseline period August 2004–July 2005.

5. For both CSR07 and SR04, the PSA indicator is the average vehicle delay, derived from the differences between observed journey times and a reference journey time (the time that could theoretically be achieved when the traffic is free-flowing), weighted by traffic flows for each route of the network. The slowest 10% of journeys are selected for each 15-minute departure time between 6 am and 8 pm for each day of the week, on each route. The indicator therefore reflects journeys experienced on all types of route on all days at all times of the day.

6. It should be noted that where one or more lanes are closed, for example because of road works or incidents, journey times are estimated from monitored data where available or infilled using data from other periods.  Flow data used in calculations is the average for that time of day and day of week rather than actual flow, as the latter would be affected by vehicles diverting off the network.

7. The data for October 2008 are provisional because there has not been full quality assurance at a route level.

8. Note that percentage changes are calculated from unrounded delay figures and may differ from those produced using the rounded figures shown in this release.

(Source : http://www.dft.gov.uk)

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Jakarta to set new school and working hours

The Jakarta Post |  Fri, 11/21/2008 5:58 PM  |  Jakarta

Jakarta city administration is set to issue a regulation to make school hours begin half an hour earlier (6.30 a.m.) as of Jan. 1, to ease morning and noon traffic congestion around the city.

“We will propose this new arrangement to Governor Fauzi Bowo. If he approves, it will take effect in Jan. 1,” Vice Governor Prijanto said after a meeting with related city agencies on Friday.

The administration will also issue a non-mandatory instruction for private companies in Jakarta to rearrange their operating hours according to the location of their offices.

“For private offices, we urge those located in North and Central Jakarta to begin at 7.30 a.m.; 8 a.m. for offices in West and East Jakarta and 9 a.m. for those in South Jakarta,” Prijanto
said. The starting time for civil servants would remain at 7.30, he said.

According to a recent survey commissioned by the city administration, some 20.7 million people travel through the city every day, with about 3 percent relying on trains, 40 percent on bicycles or on foot, and 57 percent on motorized vehicles.

They survey also showed that about 32 percent of all the destinations were workplaces, 30 percent schools, 12 percent shopping malls and 26 percent others. (anb)

Source : http://www.thejakartapost.com

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