System to offer better traffic forecasts

REAL-TIME::Expected to be introduced next year, the new system will be incorporated with the electronic toll system to give motorists more reliable data on freeway traffic

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - Page 5

A new freeway traffic forecasting system is set to be introduced next year to provide motorists more precise and real-time information on travel conditions, the National Freeway Bureau said.

The forecasts, which will be incorporated into the newly launched electronic toll system, will be able to analyze quickly the traffic flow on freeways and give drivers a heads-up, bureau Deputy Director-General Wu Mu-fu (吳木富) said.

The freeway forecast will be more accurate than a weather forecast, Wu said.

The new toll collection system, which charges motorists based on the distance traveled instead of tollbooth collection points they pass through, was launched in December last year. The use of tollbooths was replaced with an automated system that scans each vehicle’s electronic toll collection (ETC) tag when it enters and exits Freeway No. 1, No. 3 or No. 5.

With the help of the system, the bureau can quickly process the more than 13 million transactions — or vehicles registered on the freeways — each day to predict traffic conditions on weekdays and weekends, Wu said.

For example, the system will be able to tell the bureau how many vehicles are on which section of the freeways at any given time. It can then relay the information to motorists, Wu said, adding that parts of the project is still under development.

Since vehicles will be examined based on the codes assigned to them — instead of their license plates — motorists need not be concerned about privacy leaks, Wu said.

The original match-up details will be used by the company operating the electronic toll collection system, and the data the bureau receives will be encoded, Wu added.

Any third party trying to access that information needs to apply for it, he said, without elaborating.