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July 11, 2019

Tech In Transit: Adaptive Traffic Networks

Mandi Renshaw

Adaptive traffic network systems in action

Tech In Transit is a series that focuses on breakthrough innovations and technological advancements in the transportation and transit industries. We hope to keep you updated on these matters for the purpose of being aware of future changes that could affect the ways you utilize public transportation. In case you missed it, here’s the previous ‘Tech In Transit’ article featuring contactless payment.

Everyone knows about the pain of being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, especially when the timer on the traffic signals are outdated and poorly adjusted for rush hour. Less than 5-7 cars end up crossing the intersection before the light turns yellow and you’re forced to wait an eternity for the lights to cycle again; we’ve all experienced this inconvenience on the road.

If you are not already aware, traffic signal preemption is an existing technology that manipulates traffic signals by forcing traffic lights to turn green whenever certain vehicles come close within a certain range of a stop light. Police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances primarily use this technology in emergency situations. Most transit agencies like SolTrans also use this technology so that public buses get priority in traffic, but the impact of signal prioritization is most evident for emergency vehicles.

Although the technology has existed for quite some time, new developments could yield even more benefits. A company based in Israel called Axilion is paving the way for traffic optimization through the prioritization of public transit with a technology that works similar to traffic signal preemption, but is far more advanced. The software monitors live bus arrival/departure times, traffic sensors, and even pedestrian traffic in a real time simulation and feeds this data to artificial intelligence which can determine how to change the timing of traffic signals to give buses and railcars priority on the road. If you’re interested in knowing more, here’s a video showing Axilion’s adaptive traffic networks in action.

What does this all mean at the end of the day? It means more green lights for buses and other public vehicles in the future, reducing total commute times drastically. The company’s technology has been proven effective given the fact that it cut down a rail system commute time in half from 80 to 42 minutes. Axilion has already expanded to the US and has implemented their technology in New York City’s MTA and it won’t be long before they make their way to most US major cities and regions, including LA and Silicon Valley.

When this technology arrives, you won’t have to worry about being stuck in traffic and will be less likely to be late to where you need to be, all for one flat rate fare. Imagine going from one end of Solano County to the other, via our Red Line or Yellow Line, without the hassle of being stuck in red light traffic after exiting the highway. Sounds convenient? Then be sure to be on the lookout for when this technology eventually comes to the Bay Area.

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