Prime Mover Magazine

Congestion-busting tech to streamline road networks

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) can have positive impacts on the safety, efficiency and environmental performance of transport according to Swinburne University of Technology.

A smart transport solution like ITS is reported to make better use of existing infrastructure and can reduce the need to build new ‘expensive’ roads.

The benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) of a road retrofitted with ITS can be more than a dozen times greater than a new road according to Swinburne. Smart technology is reported to provide higher benefits at the fraction of the cost.

“The BCR of the $15.8 billion North East Link road project in Melbourne is estimated to be 1.25 – for every $1.0 invested, $1.25 is returned in benefits to the economy and community,” Swinburne said in a statement.

“For the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel, a best-case BCR of 3.3 has been reported.

“When comparing different ‘congestion-busting’ options, ‘building more roads’ provides, on average, a BCR of 3.0. This is dwarfed by the much higher BCR values of tech solutions.”

Adaptive traffic signal control, according to Swinburne, allows traffic signals to change based on actual traffic demand. This yields, on average, a BCR of 40.

“Traffic signals along a route can be coordinated to create ‘green waves’ for platoons of vehicles to travel without stopping,” said Swinburne. “These solutions are effective for congested cities that experience rapid traffic growth and changing traffic patterns.”

Corridor management systems use technology to control networks of motorways and urban roads; the average BCR, according to Swinburne, is 24.

“On managed motorways, ramp signals, variable speed limit signs and traveller information systems are proven tools to respond in real time to changing traffic conditions,” said Swinburne. “In one case, a managed motorway reduced travel times by 42 per cent and accidents by 30 per cent.”

Active motorway management is also reported to improve the performance of existing roads.

“Traffic incident management, which has a BCR of 21, includes technologies that aid quick detection and removal of crashes,” Swinburne said.

“They also detect other incidents such as broken-down vehicles or spilled loads that reduce road capacity. The systems rely on smart software that analyses sensor data in real time.

“Benefits include a 40 per cent reduction in time to detect incidents. The technology also reduces incident duration by 23 per cent and road crashes by 35 per cent.”

ITS is improving the use of existing assets and increasing their operational life while also delivering ‘superior value for money’ according to Swinburne.

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