An innovative trial undertaken by Transport for London (TfL), crowdsourced navigation app Waze, and Eurotunnel, has cut traffic disruption at London’s Blackwell Tunnel.
Over 36 million journeys a year are made through the tunnel on the A102, one of the busiest sections on London’s road network. Every year cars running out of fuel, and lorry drivers unaware their vehicles are over-height, cause delays at the tunnel that cost the UK capital almost £7m (US$9.4m) and result in nearly 400 hours of delays.
Approximately 20% of breakdowns in 2015 were caused by drivers running out of fuel while inside the tunnel’s twin-bores. To address this, TfL has worked with Waze to remind drivers approaching the tunnel to have enough fuel. Over a six-month period, 459 drivers acted on the fuel message and
re-routed to local gas stations, which has resulted in a reduction in tunnel breakdowns.
The trial is part of a range of new measures by TfL designed to reduce delays at the tunnel. These include working closely with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Freight to tackle over-height incidents at Blackwall caused by truck drivers not knowing the height of their vehicles or failing to pay attention to the height restrictions displayed on approach to the tunnel. Trucks entering the UK via Eurotunnel were targeted with leaflets in 10 different languages, recommending whether drivers should take the Blackwall Tunnel or the Dartford Crossing, depending on the time of day, vehicle and height restrictions. TfL also recently launched a campaign to advise users of the busiest times at Blackwall, which saw 2% of frequent drivers reschedule their journeys to avoid delays.
TfL’s 24-hour traffic control center uses a range of information to help keep the city’s roads moving. Under Waze’s Connected Citizens Program, TfL began a data-sharing partnership with the company in 2016, and alerts from the app’s users now provide the biggest source of real-time information for TfL’s operations center.
“Working with Waze and Eurotunnel, we have been able to help reduce the number of vehicles breaking down in the tunnel, saving drivers time that would have otherwise have been spent sitting in traffic,” noted Glynn Barton, TfL’s director of network management. “We’re now exploring how the new technology can give us even better insights into London’s roads and enable drivers to avoid unnecessary delays, helping make our roads safer and more efficient for everyone.”