The morning cell phone beep of an instant message or the chime of an email around quitting time can be a commuter’s best friend when the message is a traffic alert about the drive ahead. That warning — making it possible for you to take an alternate route around a travel snag — can keep you from missing a meeting at work or a hot meal at home.
Mike Vickich, senior systems analyst for TTI’s Research and Implementation Office in the Houston region, developed the software system that gathers speed and congestion data and converts those values into useful travel times. This information is then sent to dynamic message signs on roadways, a traveler information website, and subscriber cell phones and email accounts.
Housed within the sophisticated Houston TranStar traffic management center, TTI-developed software and technology have provided area commuters with vital traveler information since 1995.
“We help develop many of the traveler information components that TranStar provides to the area — the most visible component being the Houston TranStar website,” says Vickich. “The website offers people peace of mind so drivers can plan a route and know what to expect on the roadway, even before they leave.”
Area commuters keep the website servers humming at TranStar. Approximately 375,000 unique visitors click on the site each month to peruse the real-time traffic map and keep an eye on speeds, cameras, freeway signs and lane closures.
“Commuters who travel in Houston a lot and watch the travel times listed on dynamic message signs get to know what those travel times should be under normal conditions,” says Vickich. “If they see a sign that says it’s 10 or 20 minutes longer than it should be, then they have the information they need to make the best travel decisions — which can help lower travel times and reduce congestion. The value of traveler information is to provide the people on the road with the information they need to make the best travel decisions possible.”