.

  • Written by Hussein Dia, Professor of Future Urban Mobility, Swinburne University of Technology
Smart transport solutions make better use of existing infrastructure and reduce the need to build expensive new roads. AdobeStock

The new transport projects governments are constantly announcing are expensive. In the recent New South Wales and Victorian elections, the returned state governments’ transport infrastructure promises added up to A$165 billion. What’s mostly missing from the promised transport solutions is smart technology that provides higher benefits at a fraction of the cost – when retrofitting existing roads in particular. The benefit-to-cost ratio can be more than a dozen times greater than for a new road.

Clearly, infrastructure spending helps to drive the economy. These projects also deliver benefits to the community, including increased road safety, shorter travel times and fewer delays.

The economic merit of these projects is usually captured using a benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR). For example, the BCR of the A$15.8 billion North East Link road project in Melbourne is estimated to be 1.25 – for every A$1 invested, A$1.25 is returned in benefits to the economy and community. For the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel, a best-case BCR of 3.3 has been reported.

But are we getting good value for money? Could cheaper alternatives deliver more benefits?

Technology offers smarter, cheaper solutions

Technology offers transport solutions that provide higher benefits at a fraction of the cost of building new infrastructure. Collectively known as intelligent transport systems, these are widely recognised today as better answers for smart transport outcomes.

Intelligent transport systems can have positive impacts on the safety, efficiency and environmental performance of transport.

When comparing different “congestion-busting” options, “building more roads” provides, on average, a BCR of 3.0. This is dwarfed by the much higher BCR values of tech solutions.

Source: Low Carbon Mobility for Future Cities: Principles and Applications (Dia, H. ed, 2017), adapted from Infrastructure Productivity: how to save $1 trillion a year (McKinsey, 2013), Author provided

Read more: Our new PM wants to 'bust congestion' – here are four ways he could do that


Adaptive traffic signal control allows traffic signals to change based on actual traffic demand. This yields, on average, a BCR of 40.

Traffic signals along a route can be coordinated to create “green waves” for platoons of vehicles to travel without stopping. These solutions are effective for congested cities that experience rapid traffic growth and changing traffic patterns.

A simulation of adaptive traffic signals

Corridor management systems use technology to control networks of motorways and urban roads. The average BCR is 24.

On managed motorways, ramp signals, variable speed limit signs and traveller information systems are proven tools to respond in real time to changing traffic conditions. In one case, a managed motorway reduced travel times by 42% and accidents by 30%.

Active motorway management improves the performance of existing roads.

Traffic incident management, which has a BCR of 21, includes technologies that aid quick detection and removal of crashes. They also detect other incidents such as broken-down vehicles or spilled loads that reduce road capacity. The systems rely on smart software that analyses sensor data in real time.

Benefits include a 40% reduction in time to detect incidents. The technology also reduces incident duration by 23% and road crashes by 35%.

Combining tech solutions magnifies benefits

When solutions are combined, benefits are amplified. The Florida Department of Transportation implements a transport technology program on its networks. The solutions include incident management, ramp signalling, traveller information and express lanes. Reduced incident duration and traffic delays are among the key benefits.

In 2018, the benefits of this program totalled almost US$3.1 billion (A$4.5 billion). The costs were US$70.3 million (A$102 million). That’s a BCR of 43.7.

Benefit-cost ratios of transport technology solutions implemented over a decade by Florida Department of Transportation. Author provided

In the UK, the cost of implementing technology solutions on the M42 motorway was US$150 million (A$218 million) and took two years to complete. Widening the road to produce the same outcome would have taken 10 years and cost US$800 million (A$1.16 billion).

A shift in priorities is needed

Considerable investment in transport infrastructure is still required. It should be guided by strong business cases and aligned with community values and expectations.


Read more: A closer look at business cases raises questions about 'priority' national infrastructure projects


However, technology is getting to the point where it’s making a serious difference in tackling the mega challenges facing our cities. Its role must be prioritised.

The benefits are compelling. Intelligent technology systems improve the use of existing assets and increase their operational life. They enhance traveller experience and reduce reliance on building new roads. And they deliver superior value for money.

But widespread deployment of these technologies is still limited. To spur change and unlock value, we must move beyond a project-by-project approach.

Learn from the best

Governments can be guided by leading nations in this field such as South Korea, Japan and Singapore. Their citizens experience the benefits every day. Smart transport solutions improve their quality of life through easier travel, less congestion and more reliable services.

The recurring policy themes in these countries include a national vision of smart infrastructure and commitment to funding. They prioritise investment in research and trials, standards development and partnerships with industry. These are key factors in the success of their tech-driven transport solutions.

These are the policies and investments Australia should prioritise. They will modernise our transport systems in innovative ways that lift our economy and living standards.

Hussein Dia receives funding from the Australian Research Council, the iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, and Transport for New South Wales.

Authors: Hussein Dia, Professor of Future Urban Mobility, Swinburne University of Technology

Read more http://theconversation.com/smart-tech-systems-cut-congestion-for-a-fraction-of-what-new-roads-cost-125718

14 Surprisingly Easy Housekeeping Hacks That Will Impress Your Guests

Everyone wants to present a perfect house when guests come over. The problem is, no one also wants to spend the whole day scrubbing everything super clean. If you follow these smart hacks to prepare...

Giancarlo Stangherlin - avatar Giancarlo Stangherlin

Award winning, ASX-list data SIM card company promises BIG changes for travellers

FLEXIROAM’s attachable SIM card, FLEXIROAM X Microchip is shaking up the telecommunications industry, fundamentally changing the way travellers use data overseas.   According to Founder and CEO...

Tess Sanders Lazarus - avatar Tess Sanders Lazarus

Friday essay: living with fire and facing our fears

The smouldering ruins of a child's bike lies amongst a property lost to bushfires in the Mid North Coast region of NSW last month. Darren Pateman/AAPIt is only mid-November but we have to walk early t...

Danielle Clode, Senior Research Fellow in Creative Writing, Flinders University - avatar Danielle Clode, Senior Research Fellow in Creative Writing, Flinders University

Explainer: why homicide rates in Australia are declining

Latest figures reveal homocides in Australia are at historic lows. AAP/James RossAccording to the latest figures, homicides in Australia are at historic lows and compare well against international tr...

Terry Goldsworthy, Associate Professor in Criminology, Bond University - avatar Terry Goldsworthy, Associate Professor in Criminology, Bond University

Making space: how designing hospitals for Indigenous people might benefit everyone

Sunshine Coast University Hospital uses evidence-based design to provide outside spaces with views that Indigenous people tell us they value. Architectus, Author providedWelcome to the next article in...

Timothy O'Rourke, Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, The University of Queensland - avatar Timothy O'Rourke, Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, The University of Queensland

Vital Signs: Australia's slipping student scores will lead to greater income inequality

While no test is perfect but the Programme for International Student Assessment rankings are pretty useful for understanding the skills young people are being equipped with. www.shutterstock.comThe la...

Richard Holden, Professor of Economics, UNSW - avatar Richard Holden, Professor of Economics, UNSW

We're using lasers and toaster-sized satellites to beam information faster through space

The electromagnetic spectrum we can access with current technologies is completely occupied. This means experts have to think of creative ways to meet our rocketing demands for data. NASA Johnson/Flic...

Gottfried Lechner, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Telecommunications Research, University of South Australia, University of South Australia - avatar Gottfried Lechner, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Telecommunications Research, University of South Australia, University of South Australia

Grattan on Friday: Angus Taylor's troubles go international, in brawl with Naomi Wolf

Morrison would rather live with a problem minister in a key post than give a scalp to Labor. Mick Tsikas/AAPScott Morrison said it with a straight face, and repetition for emphasis. “I’m v...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Early medical abortion is legal across Australia but rural women often don't have access to it

Australian women can have an early medical termination – which involves taking two oral medications – up to the ninth week of pregnancy. Jonatán Becerra/UnsplashAround one in s...

Jane Tomnay, Assoc. Professor / Director of Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health, University of Melbourne - avatar Jane Tomnay, Assoc. Professor / Director of Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health, University of Melbourne

All hail apostrophes - the heavy lifters who 'point a sentence in the right direction'

Doing away with the apostrophe is not just the beginning of the end ... it's the end. www.shutterstock.comReports this week about the demise of the Apostrophe Protection Society may have been greatly...

Roslyn Petelin, Course coordinator, The University of Queensland - avatar Roslyn Petelin, Course coordinator, The University of Queensland

It's the 10-year anniversary of our climate policy abyss. But don't blame the Greens

In 2009, a Bob Brown-led Greens party voted against an emissions trading scheme – but they can't be blamed for what came after. Mick Tsikas/AAPFederal Labor this week commemorated a dubious anni...

Rebecca Pearse, Lecturer, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney - avatar Rebecca Pearse, Lecturer, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney

Morrison cuts a swathe through the public service, with five departmental heads gone

Scott Morrison has announced a dramatic overhaul of the federal public service, cutting the number of departments and creating several new mega ones, while removing five secretaries. The departments...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Tick, tock... how stress speeds up your chromosomes' ageing clock

At a molecular level, stresses and strains can make your body clock break into a sprint. Lightspring/ShutterstockAgeing is an inevitability for all living organisms, and although we still don’t ...

Szymek Drobniak, DECRA Fellow, UNSW - avatar Szymek Drobniak, DECRA Fellow, UNSW

The government wants to privatise visa processing. Who will be held accountable when something goes wrong?

The Department of Home Affairs has begun taking steps to outsource its visa processing to private service providers. This move has sparked an important national debate on transparency, accountability ...

Marina Khan, PhD Candidate, Western Sydney University - avatar Marina Khan, PhD Candidate, Western Sydney University

Left-leaning Australians may look to New Zealand with envy, but Ardern still has much work to do

Jacinda Ardern created an indefinable aura of promise – but just as people fall in love, some have fallen out of love, too. AAP/Mick TsikasIn October 2017, 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern became prim...

Grant Duncan, Associate Professor for the School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University - avatar Grant Duncan, Associate Professor for the School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University

Scientists fear insect populations are shrinking. Here are six ways to help

Scientists need your help to protect Australia's insects and track their numbers. Joe Castro/AAPAre you planning a big garden clean-up this summer, or stocking up on fly spray to keep bugs at bay? Bef...

David Yeates, Director of the Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO - avatar David Yeates, Director of the Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO

Aquariums, meerkats and gaming screens: how hospital design supports children, young people and their families

This aquarium at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne helps reframe hospitals as exciting hubs of activity with things to do and friends to meet. Shannon McGrath/Advanced Aquarium TechnologiessW...

Stephanie Kathleen Liddicoat, Lecturer, Architectural Design, Swinburne University of Technology - avatar Stephanie Kathleen Liddicoat, Lecturer, Architectural Design, Swinburne University of Technology

To stop a tech apocalypse we need ethics and the arts

If recent television shows are anything to go by, we’re a little concerned about the consequences of technological development. Dystopian narratives abound. Black Mirror projects the negative ...

Sara James, Senior Lecturer, Sociology, La Trobe University - avatar Sara James, Senior Lecturer, Sociology, La Trobe University

To restore public confidence in apartments, rewrite Australia's building codes

Compliance with the National Construction Code provides no guarantee that an apartment won't leak. ShutterstockA prestige apartment building in Sydney built by a well-known developer is undergoing a ...

Geoff Hanmer, Adjunct Lecturer in Architecture, UNSW - avatar Geoff Hanmer, Adjunct Lecturer in Architecture, UNSW

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company

LifeStyle

Ways Love and Relationships Benefit Body and Mind

Being in a happy relationship is great. You always have someone to greet you when you come home ...

The Importance of Smiling: How You Can Smile More

Happiness is something we all strive for and is often just out of reach. Of course, it’s impos...

5 Things to Do On Your Wedding Morning

After months of meticulous planning, wedding mornings usually find the bride excited but stressed ...

How to Make Your Girlfriend’s Birthday Extra Special

Your girlfriend’s birthday is your opportunity to show her how much you care. But how exactly do...