More data could help ease Melbourne traffic woes

More can be done to fight traffic congestion with ICT, Vic auditor finds

Victoria's Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure and VicRoads don't have "comprehensive and reliable traffic datasets for the whole Victorian road network", according to a report on the use of ICT to manage traffic in the state's cities issued by the state's auditor-general today.

"As a consequence, Victorians have limited traffic information to allow them to make informed decisions about what route to take, how long the journey will take, or whether they are better off taking other modes such as public transport or cycling," the report states.

The department and VicRoads should work together "to develop new traffic and congestion indicators that better capture information that matters to road users and in terms that road users are able to understand. For example, the severity of traffic delays, the reliability of journey times, or real-time multimodal journey planners."

The state needs a clear strategy when it comes to employing ICT in the fight against congestion in Melbourne, the report, Using ICT to Improve Traffic Management, argues.

"The Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure (DTPLI), Public Transport Victoria (PTV) and VicRoads have no strategy or coordinated plan to use ICT traffic management systems to complement broader integrated transport and land-use initiatives," the report states.

"This means that broader aspirations for more sustainable and amenable road use and urban planning are not being directly supported and operationalised by technology solutions."

The report recommended developing a strategic document on traffic management that can help make sure that VicRoads is aligned with government policy and "clarify the role and expectations for ICT traffic management systems to help address congestion and priority for road-based public transport".

VicRoads should develop a work program "to ensure that traffic signals across the Victorian road network are consistent with network operating plans".

The report also advocates that Public Transport Victoria works to ensure that bus and tram ICT systems can work with the state's SCATS system. VicRoads uses two primary intelligent transport systems for traffic management: SCATS — the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System, which was developed in NSW in the '70s and deployed in Melbourne in 1982 — and STREAMS.

SCATS co-ordinates traffic signals; however, the report states that trams and buses Trams and buses "are unable to communicate effectively with the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS)", which means public transport can't be given signal priority by the system.

"Trams and buses are not currently able to provide accurate and reliable reference data to VicRoads traffic signals systems, and thus more efficient public transport traffic signal prioritisation is not available to these high-productivity vehicles," auditor-general John Doyle wrote in his introduction to the report.

"The audit found that the deployment of ICT traffic management systems has not been strategically planned to complement broader statewide integrated transport and land-use initiatives," the auditor-general wrote.

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Tags transportationTransportVictoria

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