In 2022, London’s drivers lost 156 hours sitting in congestion. For the second year in a row, the British metropolis topped the Inrix traffic scorecard followed by Chicago (155h) and Paris (138h). Cities worldwide struggle with traffic jams and congestion. The amount of traffic on our road grows at a rate greater than the capacity, which makes it even more important to have an interconnected urban mobility system to successfully manage the road system.
Vienna is progressive in this field: The ITS Vienna Region is known for its advanced traffic management system and is continuously further developing this system aiming at improving traffic conditions with sustainability and the CO2 balance in mind.
Within the city’s major “Traffic Management 2.0” project, the Austrian metropolis is expanding its real-time traffic management system PTV Optima to make even better use of traffic signal data such as green shares, cycle times, and signal plans. In a pilot region of Vienna, precise and actual signal data flow into the system, instead of working with estimated or average signal behavior at intersections, as is usually the case. This increased level of detail allows PTV Optima to estimate and forecast even more precise flow rates; resulting forecasted flow rates are then used to trigger changes in signal control plans, either automatically or via operator approval.
Another innovation: Vienna’s traffic management system also includes an additional unique simulation tool PTV Optima Micro. Within the simulation, analysis of the current traffic situation and the effects of traffic light control can be analyzed.
Today, successfully managing the road network is getting tougher than ever. In addition, the mobility ecosystem is getting increasingly complex, with new technologies, mobility modes, and services entering the market.
Coupling an urban traffic control system ( for example Centracs Mobility) with automatic traffic estimation and forecasting has several advantages:
- it allows deploying less detection equipment, resulting in shorter deployment time and cheaper installation and maintenance;
- it makes it easier to exploit and integrate additional data sources, such as Floating Car Probe Data, measured speeds, and events such as roadworks or road accidents;
- it reduces hardware dependency and therefore provides a more fault-tolerant and robust system;
- allows for expanding the observability of the system beyond sensors to the whole reality;
- it extends the analysis to the future urban traffic control system actions/decisions;
- it makes it easier to balance different objectives: number of stops, pollutant emissions, vehicle-km, vehicle throughput, directional travel times, etc.
There is often a disconnection between traffic operations and planning teams without a cohesive system in place. Field hardware and traffic management systems are often incompatible with traffic simulation and planning models – despite the potential and synergies that cohesive systems offer. In Vienna, the two new functions described above are expected to significantly reduce vehicle stopping and improve traffic flow. And that means not only less waiting and travel time for all road users, but also significantly lower emissions.
Urban traffic control certainly benefits strongly from modeling and simulation. In today’s world, different signal control plans and settings can be analyzed and tested with time and other savings for scheme designs and improved optimization.
Advanced simulations, on the other hand, heavily rely on detailed engineering data like traffic signal timings, lane configurations, geometries, and speeds. Tedious efforts to create advanced simulation models from scratch or provide regular updates slows their use. The traffic operations teams regularly maintain detailed data in traffic signal optimization software and this data that is extremely valuable for modeling.
“Intelligent, networked systems not only improve traffic flows and safety, but also contribute to climate protection. This is what makes the combination of PTV and Econolite solutions, now unified under the brand Umovity, so valuable. With our mobility business we can open numerous potentials”, says Christian U. Haas, CEO of PTV and Econolite. “From hardware to software, data and services including traffic planning, simulation, and optimization, as well as maintenance of Smart Mobility systems, Umovity serves as the One-Stop-Shop for smart and sustainable mobility solutions. Our aim is to empower our customers to create future-oriented, connected urban mobility system to shape a safer, smarter, and more sustainable mobility for humanity.”