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01 January 2005

Real-time travel tactics

Too many cars on UK roads means more pollution, more traffic jams and slower journey times. In Portsmouth, where rush hour is generating over 1.5 million car journeys a week, the city council has a plan to encourage motorists onto public transport while improving the efficiency of the existing transport system. PORTAL – Portsmouth’s online real-time traveller infor-mation system – is the inno-vative tool central to achieving the city council’s objectives.

Run by a Portsmouth City Council led consortium – for which Mott MacDonald is providing project management services as part of our ongoing partnership with the city council – the project brings together partners from public and private industry sectors.

“Using cutting edge technologies from the UK, Europe and the United States, PORTAL aims to provide improved transport management and dissemination of reliable, real-time travel information through an integrated system, starting with the bus networks,” explains Andrew Poole, a member of our project management team.

PORTAL will co-ordinate the 47 existing bus routes for which operators provide approximately 100 bus trips per route per day, translating into 41,000 daily passenger trips. “The system will provide improved schedule adherence and fleet management for bus operating companies, together with opportunities to provide enhanced bus priority facilities,” adds Andrew.

PORTAL uses the mesh networks enabled architecture mobile broadband solution – and is the world’s largest implementation of a mobile mesh network for an intelligent transport system application. “Buses are fitted with on-board units and data is wirelessly transmitted to central servers at the Portsmouth City Council traffic control centre,” says Andrew. “Here information is processed and transmitted to high specification bus shelters and free-standing kiosks with touch screen displays.”

Launched in October 2004, the project is continuing to be developed. “We envisage expanding it into an integrated, multi-modal system incorporating trains, ferries and light rail,” adds Andrew, “building capacity for further improving urban transport management.”
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