When you ask for direction to a place, you’re often more likely to get an answer in minutes rather than kilometers. Crossing a distance of 5 kilometers can often take up to 20 minutes depending on the traffic. In 2017, commuters in the 15 most congested cities across the world spent an average of 83 hours in traffic. And, this is not just during rush hour. The study showed that about 33% of traffic delays occurred outside peak hours. Thus, finding a solution to unlock the gridlock is the need of the hour.
Temporary Vs Virtuous Congestion-Reduction Measures
Measure to reduce traffic congestion can be categorized as temporary and virtuous.
Measures such as widening roads, building tunnels and flyovers, more car parks, etc., fall into the first category. These measures may ease current traffic congestion but once the number of vehicles on the roads increases, the results will be nullified, they may also require months of work that disrupt the flow of traffic and compromise existing infrastructure. For example, widening a road may marrow the walkway for pedestrians.
Virtuous measures to reduce traffic congestion take a more long-term approach. These changes focus on improving the flow of traffic and encouraging a shift from private cars to public transport. For example, changing the way traffic moves at junctions, making the bus service in a city safer and more reliable and stricter enforcement of traffic rules.
SMARTurbs As A Solution
Traffic congestion is often highest around crossings and road junctions. With traffic coming from 4 directions, vehicles from each side have to wait for all the other three sides to pass before getting their turn. This results in long waiting times. In cases of consecutive junctions, this wait gets even longer and more frustrating.
SMARTurbs is a traffic signal management design that converts a 4-phase crossing into a 2-phase crossing. This means that two lanes on opposite sides of a signal can operate simultaneously. However, vehicles can only move straight ahead or take a left turn. To take a right turn, they would have to turn left and make a u-turn. When the signal changes, they can move straight ahead. Studies on its efficacy have shown that SMARTurbs can reduce traffic congestions by up to 80%.
Since two lanes can operate simultaneously, the number of signal changes at each junction is also reduced. This means that when a car moves from one signal to the next, the chances of getting a green light with SMARTurbs increases by 50%.
Popularizing Public Transport
A single bus can accommodate as many people as 10 or more cars. If there’s only one person in each car, this ratio is even higher. Thus, if more people were to take the bus, the amount of traffic on the roads would significantly drop. Most people are wary of taking the bus because it runs on unreliable schedules. They often have to wait for long periods of time at bus stops. However, technology could help solve this issue. Buses equipped with GPS devices can help patrons and service providers correctly estimate the time a bus reaches a particular stop. Thus, people could then plan their commute in such a way that they do not wait long at the bus stops.
Urban Traffic Management Control systems could also prioritize public buses at junctions. Thus, if a bus is running behind schedule, the signal could be left open a little longer to reduce the bus’s wait time. Thus shortens the journey- another aspect that can help popularize public transportation.
To Sum It Up
Left as it is, traffic congestion will only continue to worsen. By 2025, the average urban commuter may spend up to 62 hours in traffic each year. While temporary measures can help provide short term solutions, we need to focus on big-picture measures like SMARTurbs that are scalable and can make traffic flow smoothly.
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