Sustainable multi-modal traffic management
In 2008 the Ghent Municipal Parking Company started to replace the existing parking guidance system with an all-inclusive and proficient traffic guidance system. The system will allow Ghent to govern traffic in a highly dynamic and integrated way.
Implementing sustainable mobility
The City of Ghent has its own parking guidance system, which displays the latest number of parking spaces available in ten different parking garages spread throughout the city centre. Even though the guidance system offers alternatives to parking garages that are full, a significant number of people still queue in front of the parking entrances hoping to find a free parking space when they enter the building. This causes unnecessary congestion on the roads leading to these parking buildings resulting in significant delays for public transport. The city centre roads are even more clogged up by motorists who hope to find a free parking spot on the street.
There is also a great need to issue traffic warnings about upcoming roadwork, major events etc. which have an impact on traffic in the city. To be fully effective, these messages would need to be provided on all road categories, from highways down to local roads. The sustainability-oriented multi-modal traffic management system will integrate variable message signs (VMS) for traffic information, traffic light management and the parking guidance system. In the long-term, even real time traffic information will be incorporated.
The implementation of the measure was done in three phases :
- In the first phase the number of free parking spaces in underground parkings in the city centre has been communicated.
- In the second phase flexible recommended routes have been implemented. A number of scenario’s have been designed for specific returning events. Static road information, for instance road works and their impact, events, …, have also been displayed in this fase.
- The third phase will be implemented after the CIVITAS period. In this phase scenarios will be connected to real time automatic gained info from the road network.
The traffic management system will be implemented in two phases:
- Parking information and parking guidance (beginning of 2010);
- Traffic information based on known events (end of 2010).
A tender was published in 2008 for the delivery and installation of a significant part of the hardware and software needed for the traffic guidance system. This consists of:
- 26 roadside VMS 2-colour LED-matrix signs on the major access roads;
- 65 parking guidance signs with integrated prisms and LED-text modules on the city ring and en-route to the car parks;
- 13 LED-matrix signs at the entrance of the car parks;
- Wireless communication network;
- Central server with management and supervision software for the traffic guidance system (status monitoring, creation of scenario’s, etc.).
The tender was approved by the City Council, which made it possible to find a contractor to implement the VMS signs.
Ghent expects the measure will:
- Increase the commercial speed of public transport on the main tram axe by 5%;
- Increase the use of P+R facilities by 10%.
- Reduce congestion in PT corridors, thereby increasing the commercial speed of trams and buses;
- Increase the use of Park & Ride facilities;
- Reduce the number of cars in the city centre.
Both the functioning of the system was evaluated, as well as the perception by the citizens. Since it is difficult to measure of the impact of this specific measure on the traffic flow and congestion problems in the city centre, this impact has not been measured. Although to have a small insight in the impact, congestion at the entrance of the main parking garages and on the main axes in the corridor (Nederkouter) have been visually measured at the busiest moment on 3 Saturdays.
Besides this, the acceptance of traffic guidance system was measured by interviewing car users that were parked at the underground parking facilities about their route choice: did they use the information of the traffic guidance system, is the data clearly presented,… The postal questionaire done by inhabitants of the CIVITAS corridor is a second source of information on the appreciation of the traffic guidance system.
- 10% shorter queues around the Kouter parking – In the before situation there was approximately 2.200 m of congested streets sections measured on a busy Saturday. In the after situation 2.000 m of congested streets were found. The target of a reduction of 10% was therefore achieved.
- Growing appreciation of new traffic guidance system – The appreciation was measured in a postal survey in the CIVITAS corridor. Citizens opinion on signposting of parking route stayed stable with 64% positive respondents. On the topic signposting of available parking spaces the number of positive respondents rose from 43% to 84%. The target of an increase of 25% was therefore achieved.