UK’s first real-time, predictive transport modeling launched in York, using PTV software


The UK’s first ever real-time transport model for live traffic management has been launched in the City of York, using PTV software – enabling traffic managers to ‘see’ congestion levels in areas with no sensors or cameras.

Historically, City of York Council (CYC) managed the live transport network through staff monitoring CCTV and social media feeds, with network monitoring operators (NMOs) and transport engineers manually implementing new plans and signal changes to ease network issues. With PTV Optima installed in the control room, NMOs now adopt a more pro-active approach in monitoring and influencing the network.

Live flows predicted by PTV Optima for the City of York as displayed in the control room provide for the first time a network-wide view of current and near future conditions

The York Optima real-time model is a rolling live prediction of traffic conditions across the city. It combines offline dynamic transport models with live traffic data to provide the control room with a network-wide forecast of current and future congestion.

The model is integrated with over 100 live traffic flow sensors, 100+ live signal controllers, live speed data across the network provided by TomTom, and up-to-date information about roadworks and other network changes.

The live model combines all this data into a single view and a single ground truth. The control room uses this information to see in good detail what is happening across the whole network, and not only in those locations with sensors or CCTV.

Optima also allows the control room to test alternative scenarios for the next hour ahead, next day, or weeks in the future. The city therefore has an operational road modeling asset for monitoring current conditions, planning for the near future, observing how plans play out, and using this knowledge to improve future strategies.

“We’re delighted to be the first city in the UK to introduce this innovative and cutting-edge technology to improve journeys and pollution in York,” says Dave Atkinson, head of programmes and smart place at City of York council, explained: “Over the last 12 months we have worked closely with Wood Group consultancy and PTV to deliver the Optima real-time traffic model. At this early stage it’s already proving to be a success. We’re able to predict future traffic levels based on our live traffic behavior and manage the flow of traffic better in busy periods by adjusting traffic lights to best suit traffic conditions.”

“Working with City of York Council and the other project partners has been a privilege,” says PTV UK technical director Michael Oliver. “I have seen for myself how the conflation of transport planning, traffic engineering and real-time data can deliver an impressive traffic management solution”.

The project in York is a component of the City of York’s Smarter Travel Evolution Program – STEP, which is funded by the UK Government. The project team was led by City of York Council, consultancy firm Wood Group and was carried out in partnership with PTV Group and independent strategic modeling experts RelativeGAP.


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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).