The UK’s first cross-boundary traffic management system to help reduce congestion, improve journey times and bring new levels of reliability on the road network, has been officially launched across Tyne and Wear.
The Urban Traffic Management Control System (UTMC) is based at Newcastle University. For the first time the traffic management operation on behalf of the five Tyne and Wear districts has been amalgamated from one site, controlling lights, bus lanes, CCTV and vehicle flow across the region.
The system, which is funded by the Department for Transport and operated on behalf of the Integrated Transport Authority, is the first in the country to manage and monitor traffic flow across multiple local authority boundaries.
The unique cross-boundary service will deliver consostent and accurate information to the travelling public, improve the reliability of bus and car journey times and allow traffic lights to be changed in real time to manage vehicles around jams, accidents, incidents and road works.
This network approach to the region’s traffic management dramatically improves on the pre-existing system in which the five local authorities delivered the service in isolation.
The project currently controls 27 key junctions across the region but this will quickly rise to 187 as further funding is accessed.
Cllr David Wood, chair of the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, said: “This launch shows the ITA and its partners are focused on delivering improvements across the transport network. By using modern technology in practical ways we will manage roads which will improve bus reliability.
“We hope the public will notice these improvements as they will benefit all road users. We are also working on new ways of informing people of delays or issues on the network, including the use of a twitter feed direct from the UTMC centre.”
The first major success of the project was in managing the huge volumes of traffic into Gateshead’s Metrocentre during the Christmas and New Year period which reduced congestion on approach roads, supporting businesses and improving the experience of shoppers.
It will also play a key role in special events coming into the region, including the Olympic Torch Relay in June, which place a heavy burden on the traffic network.