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The many uses of journey time data

You can gather journey time data from Bluetooth detectors, ANPR cameras, or it can be crowdsourced. Bluetooth detectors register a MAC address as a driver or passenger with a mobile phone passes a detector; ANPR cameras monitor licence plates; and crowdsourced data is generated by analysing the GPS locations transmitted by mobile phone and satellite navigation systems.

The latter is our preferred method of generating journey time data, but why do you need journey time data and what can you use it for?

Why do you need journey time data?

At the very minimum, if you are charged with keeping your network running smoothly you need to understand when peak traffic flow periods are and if there are any issues on your network. While comments from your road users on social media can alert you to issues and temporary surveys can provide a snapshot, to truly understand your network you need long-term journey time monitoring.

What else can you do with journey time data?

Our journey time clients have come to us with a large array of requests and uses for the data we provide. Hopefully, the examples below will provide some inspiration for what else you could be doing; whether you already have journey time data and want to know how to make the most of it or are building a business case for investing in journey time monitoring.

Keeping road users updated with journey times when they face roadworks or incidents is crucial to meeting their needs. Transport Focus, the transport passenger and road user watchdog, conducted in-depth research into how users feel about incidents and roadworks. One of the key recommendations to come out of focus groups and interviews with road users, is that they want to be kept informed about journey times. This is one of the most common uses for our journey time monitoring application.

Another use comes from one of our council clients, who upon implementing the system, quickly discovered that their previous data and assumptions were now out of date. This meant they were putting their traffic management for roadworks out during peak traffic flow. Out of date data had led them to falsely identify peak times. This meant roadwork associated congestion was being exacerbated. They now have an accurate understanding of peak times and have changed when traffic management for roadworks can be implemented to coincide with the genuinely quieter periods.

Before and after analysis is another valuable use of journey time data. Whether implementing a solution designed to reduce congestion or making configuration changes to your traffic signal system, you need to understand the effectiveness of these measures to quantify the return on your investment and inform future work. The best way to do this is to monitor journey times prior to implementation and again after. This will allow you to state categorically that your solutions/changes have improved journey times by however many minutes.

Simply monitoring the journey times around your network will allow you to determine where investment is needed most urgently. For example, journey times will allow you to understand where rat runs are, so you can establish if traffic calming measures are needed to tackle the issue before an accident occurs. It can also enable you to advise road users of the best route into a city. This has been the case with an international client of ours. They have routes from the north, south, east and west all feeding into the city centre and providing interchangeable journeys. Thanks to real-time journey time data, the city council can now advise commuters of the optimum route into the city at any given time.

Finally, incident alerts when a journey time exceeds a given threshold, allow you to stop constant monitoring of your network. Instead of looking for issues, you can allocate resource to responding as issues occur. You can also see in an instant what effect the incident is having on the surrounding network.

These are just some of the many uses of journey time data. Hopefully, they have sparked an idea for what else you could be doing with your data to provide your road users with the best possible service.

If you’d like to know more about our journey time solution, get in touch or watch our recent webinar.

Author: Michelle C |Date Published: February 2019

Links: Network Management Journey Time Monitoring

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