The City of Bogotá in Colombia has partnered with transport tech firm ClearRoad to pilot a phone-based application that measures traffic and provides data on congestion pricing strategies.
The pilot, dubbed ParceGo, is the result of a call for proposals to design a system that eliminates the problem of enforcement and explores new traffic management strategies to help the city reduce congestion and collect funds to finance sustainable modes of transport.
During the three-month pilot – which runs until July 2022 – participants are being asked to record all their trips using the ParceGo app, which will measure overall usage and gather data on driving behaviours in congestion zones and main roads that have been selected by the city.
ClearRoad is working alongside Cornell Tech, a technology-focused campus under Cornell University, to analyse the data in order to determine the optimal traffic management strategy and pricing.
“It’s important to set prices that will achieve the city’s goals – reducing congestion, raising revenues, and providing equitable access to the roadways,” said Dr Nikhil Garg, Assistant Professor at Cornell Tech.
“To set these congestion prices, we need to know how people will react to the prices: will they pay, change their route, or change their trip? And it’s especially important to understand how people will differ in their responses.
“Our hope in participating in the pilot is to understand these questions [on pricing and behaviour], and to develop the technical tools needed to provide better congestion pricing in the future,”
Licence plate system
In 2019 and 2020, the Colombian capital was ranked as the world’s most congested city in the INRIX index.
In March 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city was forced to suspend its Pico y Placa (peak and plate) traffic management system for the first time since it was introduced in 1998.
The system was adopted to regulate traffic during rush hour by restricting the transit of vehicles in the capital based on their licence plate numbers and the day of the week.
It subsequently introduced an enhanced version of the scheme in June 2020, which added new options including paid exemptions, and a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) exemption programme.
Although the enhanced system has the potential to combat pollution, reduce traffic, and promote better vehicle use and carpooling, it has faced multiple challenges related to enforcement and manual verification that has limited its effectiveness.
Aside from determining optimal pricing, the pilot aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of a phone-based app as a means for traffic management and for gathering congestion data.
Chris Bertram (Flickr)
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