UK’s first real-time transport model launches in York

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City of York Council has introduced the UK’s first city-wide real time transport modelling, to help ease congestion and pollution.

Working in partnership with PTV Group, Wood Group and independent strategic modelling firm RelativeGAP, the council has started using the technology to manage the road network.

Previously, the council has monitored the network through staff monitoring CCTV and social media feeds, with network monitoring operators and transport engineers manually implementing new signal changes to manage the flow of traffic better in busy periods.

The York Optima real-time model is a rolling live prediction of traffic conditions across the city. It combines offline dynamic transport models with live traffic data to provide the council’s control room with a network-wide forecast of current and forecast congestion.

The model is integrated with more than 100 live traffic flow sensors, 100 live signal controllers, live speed data across the network provided by TomTom, and up-to-date information about roadworks and other network changes.

Combining all this data into a single view, the model enables the control room to use information to see in detail what is happening across the whole network, and not only in those locations with sensors or CCTV. Optima also allows the control room to test alternative scenarios for the next hour ahead, next day, or weeks in the future.

With the new PTV Optima installed in the control room, the council said it can adopt a more pro-active approach in monitoring and changing the network live to best suit traffic conditions.

According to the council, in areas it had previously introduced the system travel times have been reduced by nearly 10%.

Dave Atkinson, head of programmes and Smart Place at City of York council, said: “We’re delighted to be the first city in the UK to introduce this innovative and cutting-edge technology to improve journeys and reduce pollution in York.

“At this early stage it’s already proving to be a success. We’re able to predict future traffic levels based on our live traffic behaviour and manage the flow of traffic better in busy periods by adjusting traffic lights to best suit traffic conditions.”

The introduction of the new modelling system follows a successful bid by the council, as part of the Smarter Travel Evolution Program, which is funded by the UK government.

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