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Mobility Measure

Bus lane and red light cameras

The measure aimed at improving traffic safety and public transport speed through the installation of enforcement cameras at intersections in Tallinn with the following functions:• Red light enforcement;• Bus lane (PT lane) usage enforcement;• Speed limit enforcement.

Implementing sustainable mobility

The main objectives of the measure are to:

  • Make public transport more attractive and improve its overall image and social acceptance; and
  • Reduce the number of public transport lane intrusions by private cars.

Two multi-functional cameras were installed on one of the busiest intersections in Tallinn (Endla-Sõpruse-Tulika), covering two directions of the 5-leg intersection. Both cross-sections had 3 lanes and the public transport lane was the first lane.  The intersection was also covered by a traffic monitoring camera system implemented within the scope of the MIMOSA measure 8.2.

The innovative aspects of the measure were:
• New physical infrastructure solutions - Red light and PT lane enforcement cameras had not been used in Estonia before, speed cameras had also not been used in Estonian cities before;
• Use of new technologies – Determining the right of a vehicle to use a PT lane required new solutions compared to existing enforcement cameras.  Also, a new 3-in-1 solution was used: one camera captured three kinds of infringements.
Targeting specific user groups – PT lane cameras were implemented for improving PT connection speed and punctuality, thus affecting users of PT.

How did the measure progress?

The measure was implemented in the following stages:
Stage 1: Preparation phase (2009 - December 2011) – Preparation consisted of research on possible locations of the cameras, technical and legal details of the system, preparing and carrying out the procurement process.
Stage 2: Installation and testing (January 2012 – May 2012) – The cameras were installed and tested for detecting infringements.
Stage 3: Dissemination campaign (spring-summer 2012) – press releases, interviews for newspapers, radio stations and TV channels.
Stage 4: Monitoring of the working system (“In near future” according to press release in   January 2013) – Once the system is declared to be in full working order, the interchange is being monitored to determining the effect of the measure.

The purpose of a red light enforcement camera was to reduce the number of severe accidents by reducing the number of side collisions at intersections.  A red light camera also served the purpose of improving traffic safety by encouraging drivers to form the habit of following traffic regulations. The working principles of the red light camera had to be more complicated than that in most other countries due to the specific demands of Estonian legislation.  The aim being the camera needs to be fully automatic with negligible possibility for appeals.  For that reason the infringement had to be fixed with pictures from the front (drivers face) and from the rear of the vehicle, the rear view picture proving the vehicle was on the interchange while the red light was on. 

The PT lane enforcement camera was used to reduce the misuse of the PT priority system.  The main idea of PT priority lanes was to improve the speed and punctuality of mass transport, thus increasing street capacity (measured in persons, not vehicles), reducing PT running costs and through all that increasing modal share of PT.  Usage of PT lanes was especially important at intersections where there was a priority traffic light for PT to aid PT vehicles punctuality. The system was usually based on sensors requiring PT vehicles to be close to the intersection for the priority system to work.  If the lanes were misused and the lanes occupied, the system was not able to give priority to the PT vehicle.
In Estonia, apart from PT vehicles only taxis with passengers in the vehicle were allowed to use PT lanes. This made the PT lane camera working principles more complicated so a simplification was used, as checking the number of people in the vehicle was not possible with the camera.

The cameras also included a speed enforcement camera in the same housing.  Enforcing the speed limit at intersections was especially important as intersections were the main locations where pedestrians were crossing streets and side collisions, with severe consequences, occurred between vehicles.  Also drivers often increase speed to get across an intersection with a green light. When a red light camera was in use on an intersection, the temptation to increase speed to avoid a red light infringement was even higher.


What were the outcomes of the measure?

The evaluation was based on traffic monitoring indicators, measuring the change in red light, public transport lane and speed infringements and surveys, measuring public awareness and acceptance of the implemented system.

The key results were as follows:
• Red light infringements decreased significantly – The number of red light infringements dropped 9,5 times, from 0,95% to 0,1%;
• PT lane infringements decreased significantly – The number of PT lane infringements dropped 4,4 times, from 7,95% to 2,2%;
• The level of speed infringements after the implementation was low – only 0,3% of drivers passing the two cross-sections were exceeding the speed limit;
• The awareness was increased – the awareness of the enforcement cameras increased from 50% to 62%;
• The acceptance was decreased – the acceptance of the enforcement cameras decreased from 82% to 77%.

The most important barrier encountered during the measure was: High legal demands on the enforcement system. This made the preparation of the system and the procurement very complicated and time-consuming.
The most important driver encountered during the measure was: Common understanding on the importance and the need for the measure between all involved partners.  All discussions were focused on the details and results of the measure, not the usefulness of the measure.
The most important activity – Due to the need for a general understanding of the system, many meetings were organised to include all partners involved in the implementation of the measure.

Recommendations for measure replication:
• Traffic enforcement system 3 in 1 – The measure is replicable for cities that need to capture 3 different types of traffic infringements by the same enforcement camera;
• System with high judicial reliability – the fines for traffic infringements are issued automatically but in the case of an appeal by drivers there is always strong evidence available for each infringement in the form of pictures.
Recommendations for process:
• Need for specific competence: implementation of the enforcement system requires specific knowledge about legislation and technical specifications.
• Too many different partners for a pilot project: measures in the CIVITAS initiative have limited time for implementation (4 years).  When many partners are involved in the preparation and operation phase, it may present a risk for the implementation timetable.
• Early start is crucial: this measure should have been the first to begin at the start of the MIMOSA project, at least by the end of 2009.  With so many important partners involved and a complicated legislative process the arrangement of the procurement takes years.