In 2013 traffic congestion costed Americans $124 billion. In 2030, this number will rise to $186 billion, if nothing is done to address the problem.
There is a fundamental gap in my opinion in the way countries are looking at this problem. I wrote a treatise about this last week which I’m not going to share here because it is too long and you are unlikely to read it.
Fundamentally what it comes down to (and one of the reasons I joined the NZ Transport Agency, because they believe in customers and their needs) is a partnership with the customer.I am not writing this in any way on their behalf, these are strictly my opinions.
The more we invest in ‘systems’ the more the motorists expect that silver bullet. The more we talk about the systems we create, rather than the customer and their needs, the more likely it is that the customer sits back and expects us to solve the problems, when in fact the problem is ‘us’, the customers.
Our statistics tell us that 40% of people don’t check traffic conditions in any way before they depart on their journey. Research in large cities suggests that many people feel that the cost of living and working in a city is congestion and that there is nothing they can do about it.
On the other hand, research from TomTom the world leader in GPS car navigation, reveals that if 5% of motorists change their behaviour, delaying their journey, changing their route or mode of travel, 15% benefit.
People don’t seem to value their time, given that they don’t seem to be prepared to help themselves.
As a father, the family events, like sports, concerts, school visits, birthdays and other events are priceless. You can’t get them back. They aren’t just events, they have a lifetime impact on your relationship with your children, that they carry forward as adults. As a business person, arriving late for an important meeting can lose you business and reputation. What is that worth to you?
I work in Travel Information if you weren’t aware of that and I was recently given some really interesting information. We have a long weekend coming up and Kiwis love to travel to their bach, or holiday home. On the Monday, when they travel home, it seems that a large percentage of them think that everyone will maximize their long weekend and will go home late. So what happens? They all leave early and create major congestion around 1PM in the afternoon. What a waste of their day off!
So we are planing to share real time information on that public holiday and will try to spread that peak out, giving people a longer holiday and safer journeys back home because a side effect of the congestion is stress, accidents and a waste of the happy time people have just had.
Of course 40% of people won’t check before they go, but if we’re lucky 60% will, whether it is on TV, radio, car navigation like my favorite TomTom with real time traffic, our websites like http://www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/current-conditions/highway-info/road/7873/north-island.html, free email route and area alerts, or our social media. Hopefully they will make it better for everyone.
So what is your time worth? Are you going to check the traffic before you go? Do you realise that you are in fact the system? You are the traffic. It’s not all about Intelligent Transport Systems, important as they are.
You are a critical part of the intelligent transport system (ITS), it’s just that many of you choose not to use it. Crazy isn’t it, when most of the information is available for free.
I wasn’t going to get on my soapbox, but I ate some unhealthy lettuce on the weekend and have been itching to get back into helping people with their journeys. Now its up to you to help yourself. Will you check before you go? We’re talking about your time here. Where would you rather be?