Case Study 3: The Auckland Traffic Management Unit

Local Authorities Working Together.

Who Is Involved?

Auckland City Council, North Shore City Council, Manukau City Council, Waitakere City Council, and Transit New Zealand.

What Led To The Joint Arrangement?

In 1999, Transit New Zealand introduced the Advanced Traffic Management System, which operates on sections of the Auckland motorway network to provide enhanced safety and traffic information to the travelling public, and to enable rapid co-ordination of emergency services for faster clearance of accident sites and other incidents.

The four local authorities all individually operated the same Sydney Co-ordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS) software which co-ordinates traffic lights on local arterial roads. SCATS detects traffic flows at intersections and adjusts green signals to improve traffic flow.

Oversight of the traffic management system was fragmented and there was no management of the system as a whole. Further, each system had limited staff coverage, with Auckland City Council estimating that it had less than 12 hours of coverage a day.

How Does It Work?

The objective of the Auckland Traffic Management Unit is to integrate the traffic control systems of each participant to ensure the safe and efficient movement of people, goods, and services on the Auckland metropolitan transport network. The separately owned systems are connected by fibre-optic cables to a new master computer.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the four local authorities and Transit New Zealand in December 2002. The five participants then signed a service level agreement, which provides for the management of the unit by senior staff from each of the participants. The local authority participants follow a consensus decision-making process, with the opportunity to take up any issues with the regional chief executives if required.

Transit New Zealand already owned a traffic control centre located at the base of the Auckland Harbour Bridge where the unit is now located. The linking of the systems means that there will now be operators monitoring the system 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Further, there is a larger pool of trained operators located in one place, which allows for greater flexibility in rostering, covering staff on sick leave, and dealing with staff turnover.

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