Smart systems cut congestion for small cost

New ARRB and Austroads report looks at the potential implementation of dual and triple co-located signs on Australian motorways.Swinburne University has released a report detailing the technological solutions to reduce congestion on Australian roads for a fraction of the cost of new infrastructure.

The report suggests intelligent transport systems could be the answer for smart transport outcomes.

When comparing different ‘congestion-busting’ options building more roads on average had a benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of 3.0.

In comparison adaptive traffic signal control, which allows traffic signals to change based on actual demand yields an average BCR of 40.

With this technology traffic signals along a route can be coordinated to create ‘green-waves’ for platoons of vehicles to travel without stopping.

As another option corridor management systems use technology to control networks of motorways and urban roads and have an average BCR of 24.

For managed motorways, ramp signals, variable speed limit signs and traveller information systems are proven tools to respond to real time traffic conditions.

Traffic incident management has a BCR of 21 and includes technologies that aid quick detection and removal of crashes. It also detects other incidents such as broken-down vehicles or spilled loads to reduce capacity.

The Swinburne report suggests that when solutions are combined, benefits are amplified.

The Florida Department of Transportation implements a transport technology program on its networks. Technology includes incident management, ramp signaling, traveller information and express lanes, it reduced incident duration and traffic delays among the key benefits which totalled US $31.1 billion.

The report states in the UK, the cost of implementing technology solutions on the M42 motorway was US$150 million and took two years to complete. Widening the road to produce the same outcome would have taken 10 years and cost US$800 million.

It notes considerable investment in transport infrastructure is still required. However, technology is advancing enough to make a serious different in tackling mega challenges facing cities.

The report looks to leading nations such as South Korea, Japan and Singapore where smart transport solutions improve quality of life through easier travel, less congestion and more reliable services.

The report notes recurring policy themes in these countries include a national vision of smart infrastructure and commitment to funding. These countries prioritise investment in research and trials, standards development and partnerships with industry, it states. These are key factors in the success of their tech-driven transport solutions.

The report suggests these are the policies and investments Australia should priorities to modernise transport systems in innovative ways to life the economy and living standards.

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