Massachusetts expands travel time signage system and releases smartphone app


Massachusetts has expanded its statewide network of dynamic ‘GoTime’ travel time information signs, and has now integrated the data that powers them into a new complementary smartphone application.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) GoTime project is now providing drivers with up to the minute travel times on over 700 miles (1,126km) of state highway on 146 signs to over 300 destinations. This technology will allow travelers to view estimates of how long their commute will be, and promotes reduced congestion and improved air quality by giving drivers a tool to make informed travel decisions. It also allows MassDOT personnel to better measure the impact of projects on travel times, such as its recent role when data was used to measure impacts of the Toll Demolition and Roadway Reconstruction Project on Interstate 90.

The free GoTime mobile app, which is now available for Apple and Android devices, connects to the data in the roadside system by making the sign displays available to drivers before they leave their home or workplace. Customers can select and label ‘favorite’ signs, and pull up the sign information before they get on the road. MassDOT will be making improvements and modifications to this version 1.0 release, and app users can submit their feedback and suggestions via the agency’s website. The app is not meant to compete with Waze or Google, but to provide drivers with access to the roadside sign data before they are on the road.

The first GoTime signs were installed in May 2012 on 43 miles (70km) of Interstate 93 between New Hampshire and Canton. Based on the positive public response and the lessons learned from the pilot program, the decision was made to expand this system to more locations throughout the state. The travel time system was then expanded throughout 2016 on a corridor by corridor basis, and was completed in December. The signs are now located along many of the state’s major highways, including Interstates and State Routes. The app displays real-time information on drive times between various points and major interchanges throughout the state.

“Armed with information about how long travel times are, drivers can make decisions before getting on the road about whether they should drive, take [public]transit, or whether they should travel at an off peak hour if possible,” explained Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “As I have said, we aren’t going to build our way out of congestion, but we can ‘smart’ our way out by giving drivers tools for them to make informed decisions.”

Highway Administrator Thomas J Tinlin added, “GoTime is one of the most innovative technology projects for DOTs in the country. Our roadside travel time signs have been very well received and now we have an app that can get drivers the information on the signs before they set off. MassDOT is giving the traveling public information which will make their trips more hassle-free and the signs are going to be a regular part of trip planning for many commuters.”

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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).