Traffic congestion is a universal woe that plagues cities around the world. The knee-jerk reaction to this problem has often been to widen roads and build more highways. However, an alternative perspective suggests that the root cause of traffic lies not in the width of our roads, but rather in the sheer volume of cars on them. In this blog, we’ll explore why reducing the number of vehicles on the road and promoting the use of public transit, coupled with Traffic Signal Priority (TSP), may be the key to untangling the knots that many macro trends have done to make traffic worse.
The Illusion of Wider Roads
The belief that wider roads equate to reduced traffic is a common misconception. While wider roads may temporarily alleviate congestion, they often encourage more people to drive, leading to a vicious cycle of ever-increasing traffic. Moreover, widening roads can be financially and environmentally unsustainable, as it requires substantial resources and may lead to the destruction of green spaces and communities. Let’s face it, the budgetary limitations, coupled with spatial constraints that restrict the physical expansion of roads, present cities with a formidable challenge. This necessitates a shift toward strategic and intelligent approaches, prompting cities to reevaluate how they leverage existing infrastructure to enhance traffic conditions.
The True Culprit: Too Many Cars
The heart of the traffic problem lies in the sheer number of cars on the road. Many who were once taking public transit pre-pandemic had to buy personal vehicles to get around during the years when public transit wasn’t always running. This rise in private vehicles contributes significantly to congestion, air pollution, and increased stress on existing infrastructure. To address this issue, a paradigm shift is necessary—one that focuses on reducing the dependency on private vehicles and promoting sustainable alternatives.
Embracing Public Transit
Public transit emerges as a beacon of hope in the fight against traffic congestion. Encouraging more individuals to opt for buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation can significantly decrease the number of cars on the road. However, for public transit to be a viable solution, it must be efficient, reliable, and convenient.
Enter Traffic Signal Priority (TSP)
Implementing Traffic Signal Priority can be a game-changer in enhancing the efficiency of public transit. TSP is a system that uses intelligent traffic management to give priority to public transportation vehicles at traffic signals. By synchronizing traffic signals to create “waves of green lights” for buses and trains, transit times are reduced, reliability is improved, and overall system efficiency is enhanced.
Advantages of TSP
- Faster Transit Times: TSP ensures that buses and trains encounter fewer red lights, allowing them to move swiftly through intersections and reducing overall travel time. With cloud-based TSP, like LYT.transit, transit agencies can enjoy continual optimization of bus routes through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Buses can become so efficient that bus routes need updating to accommodate the increase in efficiency.
- Reliability: With predictable signal prioritization, public transit becomes more reliable, encouraging more people to choose it as their preferred mode of transportation.
- Sustainability: By making public transit more attractive, TSP contributes to a reduction in the number of private vehicles on the road, leading to decreased emissions and a more sustainable urban environment. Not only that, but the actual buses are using less fuel due to the fact that they are spending less time idling at red lights. With LYT.transit, TriMet will save over $180,000 in fuel costs in one year based on a third-party study completed earlier this year.
The benefits of TSP are clear, especially when using cloud-based systems like LYT.transit. LYT.transit offers enhanced advantages by eliminating the need for field hardware, resulting in significant cost and time savings. With no required hardware installation, initial setup and maintenance costs become virtually non-existent, and there’s no need to reroute traffic for install. The cloud-based setup also facilitates easy addition of bus routes and expansion into neighboring jurisdictions.
By promoting the use of public transit and implementing innovative solutions like Traffic Signal Priority, we can create a more sustainable and efficient urban transportation system. Explore the possibilities with LYT.transit and discover how you can contribute to a more sustainable future. It’s time to rethink our approach to traffic congestion and pave the way for a future where gridlock is the exception, not the rule.