Use tested and effective traffic management systems for Transportation Management Centers (TMCs).

Eight states' experiences with ITS Traffic Management Systems for TMCs.

Atlanta,Georgia,United States; Boston,Massachusetts,United States; Detroit,Michigan,United States; Houston,Texas,United States; Long Island,New York,United States; Milwaukee,Wisconsin,United States; Phoenix,Arizona,United States; Toronto,Ontario,Canada

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

This document provides insight into the operations at various Transportation Management Centers (TMCs) within the United States and Canada. One subject discussed in this document is the lessons learned in the design of traffic management systems. The main message is the importance of testing traffic management systems before deployment and of using systems that will most effectively provide traffic information.
  • Test operations before deploying traffic management systems. Avoid interim or partial operations before conducting final system testing and acceptance. To reduce frustrating and inefficient performance, choose integrated systems, as opposed to separate legacy or new systems, and try not to adopt an unfinished system. Extended non-operational periods for installed variable message signs will create the misperception that they are not functional.
  • Use traffic management systems that will most effectively provide traffic information. Several measures can be taken to ensure that information is deployed in a useful manner. For instance, providing closed-circuit television coverage of areas surrounding an incident to police officers will assist them in understanding the extent of a back-up and determining alternative routing for the traffic at the head of the queue. Archiving detailed traffic data by using compact disks (CD) may also provide long-term information for analysis and management. Finally, securing easy access to traffic and activity information may help TMC staff analyze performance and identify opportunities to improve traffic conditions.
  • Take preventative steps to safeguard against problems that may arise in the future. Unusual weather conditions, such as hurricanes and floods, can create significant traffic complications; thus it is important that TMC managers perform advanced work to make sure they are well-equipped to deal with operations under emergency conditions. Agencies should also find a method to manage workstation “image overload,” a condition where the amount of detail on the workstation reaches an unproductive level. Such situations are likely to increase as TMC staff become responsible for increasingly large geographic areas. Conveniently controlling the view (most often through a map) of the program area is also essential to effective operation.

This lesson recommends deploying traffic management systems that have already been tested and shown to most effectively provide traffic information. Consideration should be given to conducting testing before deploying a new technology, adopting integrated systems, minimizing the time systems are non-operational, and providing real-time traffic information for police officers. Data archival, emergency conditions operations planning, and workstation “overload” are all important issues to address as well. An agency's traffic management system will ultimately prove more productive and efficient once testing has determined its efficacy and methods have been developed in anticipation of problematic situations in the future.

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Metropolitan Transportation Management Center Concepts of Operation: A Cross-Cutting Study

Author: Joint Program Office (JPO)

Published By: FHWA and FTA

Source Date: 10/1/1999

EDL Number: 10923

Other Reference Number: FHWA-JPO-99-020 / FTA-TRI-11-99-10

URL: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/2997

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Lesson Analyst:

Jane Lappin
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center


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Lesson ID: 2006-00287