The Houston TranStar is responsible for the planning, design, operations, and maintenance of transportation operations and emergency management operations within the Greater Houston Area. The components include a freeway management system, a freeway and arterial street incident management program, ramp meter signals, closed circuit television verification, changeable message signs, HOV lane system, a regional computerized traffic signal system, intelligent transportation systems programs, emergency management operations, and motorist assistance program.
A conservative estimate of freeway incident time savings is 5 min, but analysis showed a saving of 30 min for major freeway incidents. Total annual estimated delay savings is 572,095 vehicle-hours. Estimated economic value of these savings is $8,440,000 annually.
During 1996, there have been 7 instances where the occupancy requirements for HOV Lanes have been lifted due to an incident on the mainline blocking all the lanes. Texas Transportation Institute estimated that 12,910 vehicles were able to avoid incident delay and save 13.5 to 27 minutes. Vehicle delay savings were estimated at $42,500 to $85,100 for the seven incidents.
Ramp metering benefits were an estimated travel time savings of 2,875 vehicle-hours daily, or $37,030 per day. Due to inclement weather, incidents, and other events, these savings could be expected for about 150 days each year, for a yearly user delay savings of $5,554,500.
The Motorist Assistance Program (in place since 1989) has a benefit-to-cost ratio as high as 23.3 to 1 with a positive impact on incident/delay reduction.
Astrodome Area ATMS has resulted in reducing area street congestion time by 46 percent.