York takes high-tech approach to tackling congestion

City of York Council is pioneering intelligent transport technology to tackle congestion on the city’s roads.

In the first of two Department for Transport projects which could change the way traffic is managed in the UK, the council has installed special sensors on a notoriously busy stretch of the A59. These will pick up anonymous (‘hashed’) mobile phone signals and data from ‘connected’ cars.

The council can then combine this with other data – like real-time bus movements – to give a complete picture of how traffic behaves. This will help the council to set traffic signals which respond to how traffic actually behaves, especially in events like sudden downpours.

Councillor Peter Dew, City of York Council’s executive member for transport, said: “Our famous historic city hasn’t got the space for more road, so we have to use technology as much as tarmac to get our network fit for the whole of the 21st Century.

“What happens on York’s roads over the next couple of years will help to define how traffic is managed in the UK. This is a genuinely pioneering approach to making our roads safer and air cleaner, made possible by York’s digital infrastructure.”

The A59 scheme, called Eboracum, is a £450,000 research project and will be the first time a UK city has used real-time data to set its traffic management tools.


Citywide rollout

The council can take its hi-tech traffic management citywide after winning a further £2.85m from the government’s national productivity fund for its revolutionary Smarter Travel Evolution Programme (STEP). The two-year initiative got underway last month.

The two-year life of STEP will transform the way the council manages the city’s roads, from changes to how traffic lights react to traffic flows through to designing junctions and road improvements.

This will also allow the council to better understand and model the potential impact of changes and demands on the network such as new homes and employment sites are created.

STEP will also provide ready-made technology to communicate with the connected and autonomous vehicles which are predicted to revolutionise transport with this data.

Further information on York’s digital infrastructure and how it is helping to create jobs, increase skills and much more in the city can be found at www.digitalyork.org

Related reading