York City Council to use ‘talking’ traffic lights to reduce congestion


The City of York Council has won £2.85m (US$3.75m) in funding for its revolutionary Smarter Travel Evolution Program (STEP) from the local road network strand of the UK government’s National Productivity Investment Fund.

STEP takes advantage of York’s unparalleled ultra-fast fiber optic connectivity and the cutting-edge transport research the government is already funding in the city. Detectors located on traffic lights, bollards and other street furniture and infrastructure will track vehicle movements by anonymous MAC signatures collected from people using mobile data services. This will then be processed using the most sophisticated real-time traffic data and analysis in the country. The system will also be able to ‘talk’ to the new generation of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

Starting in April 2018, 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 how new homes and employment sites are created. STEP will also provide ready-made technology to communicate this data with future CAVs that are predicted to revolutionize transport across the country, while providing a suitable testbed for development of new systems.

“This will make York one of the most advanced cities in the country. Being able to build things like traffic light signaling based on the journeys people really make every day, will mean better decisions, less congestion and improved air quality,” explained Ian Gillies, executive member for transport and planning at City of York Council. “We can’t simply build more roads in the city, so this is a really innovative way to get the city moving as efficiently as possible. It is yet more evidence of the advantages of our investment in better connectivity, and how we can really use it to make York an even more attractive place to live, work and do business.”

Preparatory works have also started on another government-funded scheme in the city. The £1m (US$1.3m) A19 Wheldrake Lane junction improvements project is being financed by the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Local Pinch Point Fund, with the main construction work starting in mid-January 2018.

Gillies said, “It is great news that we’re pressing ahead to relieve this congestion; 20,000 vehicles pass through this junction every day, creating a pinch-point which affects traffic across the south of the city, including the A19 and the A64 Fulford Interchange.”

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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).