Technology to improve traffic without building new roads
But what is needed in transport solutions are intelligent technologies that provide greater benefits for a fraction of that cost, especially when it comes to the rehabilitation of existing roads. The cost-benefit ratio of this solution can be even more than a dozen times higher than what a new road costs.
It is clear that infrastructure spending drives the economy, and that these projects also provide benefits to society including greater road safety, shorter travel times and less congestion.The economic merit of these projects is generally justified by a cost-benefit ratio (BCR). For example, it is estimated that the BCR of the North East Link road project in Melbourne, of 15,800 million Australian dollars, is 1.25. That is, for every Australian dollar invested, 1.25 Australian dollars are returned in benefits to the economy and society. For the Melbourne metro railway tunnel, a BCR of 3.3 is calculated, at best.
But are we getting a good value for money? Are there cheaper alternatives that offer more benefits?
The technology offers more intelligent and affordable solutionsrn
The technology has solutions for transport that provide greater benefits at a fraction of the cost of building new infrastructure. Generally known as intelligent transport systems, these solutions are nowadays widely recognized as the best solution to achieve smarter transport.
When you compare the different options to "eliminate traffic", "build more roads" provides, on average, a BCR of 3.0. This assessment is overshadowed by the much higher BCR values of technological solutions.
The adaptive traffic signal control, for example, allows traffic signals to change depending on the actual traffic demand. This results, on average, a BCR of 40.
Also, the traffic lights located along a route can be coordinated to create " green waves " and that the vehicles circulate in waves, without stopping. These solutions are effective for congested cities that experience rapid traffic growth and changing traffic patterns.Broker management systems use technology to control urban highway and highway networks. The average of the BCR is 24.On highways managed, the addition of the signals, the signals variable speed limit and information systems to the driver are proven tools that respond in real-time to changing traffic conditions. In one case, a managed highway reduced travel times by 42% and accidents by 30%.The management of traffic incidents, which has a BCR of 21, includes technologies that help detect and quickly resolve collisions. They also detect other incidents that reduce the capacity of the road, such as broken down vehicles or overturned loads. The systems are based on intelligent software that analyzes data captured by sensors in real-time.
The benefits include a reduction of 40% in the time it takes to detect an incident. The technology also reduces the duration of incidents by 23%, and traffic accidents by 35%.
The combination of technological solutions increases the benefitsrn
When these solutions are combined, the benefits increase even more. The Florida Department of Transportation has implemented a transportation technology program in its road networks. The solutions include incident management, sign-in incorporations, driver information, and fast lanes. Reducing the duration of incidents and traffic jams are some of the key benefits.
In 2018, the benefits of this program amounted to almost 3,000 million euros, while the cost of these systems was 68 million euros. That yields a BCR value of 43.7.
In the United Kingdom, the cost of implementing technological solutions on the M42 motorway was 145 million euros and it took two years to complete. Expanding the road to obtain the same result would have required 10 years and cost 780 million euros.
It is necessary to change prioritiesrn
Considerable investments in transport infrastructure are still needed, but they must be guided by solid arguments and aligned with the values and expectations of society.
However, technology has reached a point where it makes a big difference when it comes to addressing the mega challenges that cities face. You have to give priority to your role.
The benefits are obvious. Intelligent technology systems improve the use of existing assets and extend their useful life. They improve the driver experience and reduce the dependence on the construction of new roads. And they also offer a superior value for money.
However, the widespread deployment of these technologies remains limited. To stimulate change and take advantage of its potential we must go beyond the project-by-project approach.
Learn from the bestrn
Governments can be guided by leading nations in this area such as South Korea, Japan or Singapore. Its citizens experience the advantages daily. Intelligent transport solutions improve your quality of life by facilitating travel, reducing congestion and offering more efficient services.
Recurring political issues in these countries include a national vision of smart infrastructure and the commitment to financing. Prioritize investment in research and testing, model development and alliances with the industry. These are key factors for the success of your technology-based transportation solutions.
These are the policies and investments that Australia should prioritize. They will modernize our transport systems in innovative ways, improving the economy and the quality of life.