Despite the historic decrease in traffic congestion in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, private car ownership is skyrocketing. The dynamics that exacerbate traffic congestion, longer wait times, or poorer air quality show no signs of slowing down.
Thanks to the rising population and urbanization, traffic congestion will likely remain a major concern in most cities worldwide. Nevertheless, some urban areas have been implementing solutions, with many lessons that can be applied elsewhere.
Hereafter is an overview of three different countries that have taken successful steps to eliminate traffic congestion in major urban centers, which also helps to decrease carbon emissions.
Low Emission Zone in London
A pioneer in reducing inner-city traffic, London got rid of private vehicles by introducing the “congestion charge”, starting in 2003.
Following this, the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) was established in 2008 to keep the most polluting vehicles, typically carrying heavy goods, outside the dense city center and residential areas.
An expanded version of LEZ is the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which further contributes to the city’s goal of relieving the traffic flow while decarbonizing it.
By 2025, these initiatives are set to support a 60 percent reduction in heavy goods vehicle emissions, making London cleaner and more liveable for everyone.
In China, Data-Backed Solutions to Optimize Public Transport
The world’s most populous country is also the world’s largest car market today. In 2021 alone, vehicle sales surged by about 30 percent in China. Hence, local governments and the Chinese Ministry of Transportation understand how vital it is to provide citizens with reliable public transport.
A pilot project that is currently running in the major cities of Suzhou (10.7 million), Chengdu (16.3 million), and Harbin (5.8 million) implemented an intelligent transport system (ITS), a data-based solution providing an integrated view of the cities’ bus transportation network.
ITS operators can manage and adjust the bus routes, ensuring fast and reliable public transportation to entice more people to ditch their cars. But if people still hop on a car, LED guidance screens on roads help drivers to dodge traffic jams.
Real-time Congestion Management in Singapore
Singapore has no shortage of accolades won for efficiency and sustainability. Unsurprisingly, the Southeast Asian city-state’s successful projects to decongest its traffic are among them.
For starters, with more than 9,000 land-km of roads and expressways, all of which are in excellent condition, Singapore has one of the highest road densities among developed nations.
Furthermore, the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system, implemented in 1998, proved to be a game-changer: ERP charges are reviewed regularly to keep traffic flowing at an optimal speed, and it’s continually updated with the latest technological tools.