A publication, entitled I-95 Corridor Coalition - Vehicle Probe Project General Benefits White Paper, August 2010, offers valuable data and guidance on the use of probe data in traffic management. The objective of the I-95 Corridor Coalition’s Vehicle Probe Project (VPP) is to create a seamless traffic monitoring system that spans the eastern seaboard delivering travel times and speeds on freeways and arterials using probe technology. Data from various sources are fused to present a comprehensive picture of traffic flow. Member agencies have found numerous uses for the data beyond simply travel information, which was the original use at the project inception.
Currently, there are 19 agencies which have access to vehicle probe data. Several agencies are using the VPP data to support their 511 web and phone services providing traveler information. Some agencies use the vehicle probe data to calculate travel times and post them on message signs. Performance measures and travel time reliability, particularly in congestion prone areas, are being calculated using real-time and archived VPP data. I-95 Corridor Coalition member agencies use the project monitoring site to observe traffic patterns within its boundaries, but especially across state lines to anticipate incidents and congestion. VPP data are also used as input for the Coalition’s long-distance trip planner website (www.i95travelinfo.net) and variable message signs to enhance traveler information.
The VPP has been providing data to member agencies since 2008. As noted in the findings below, the agencies have recognized the benefits of VPP data to their respective departments of transportation, traffic management centers, and the public they serve.
In 2009, a sergeant of the New York State Police Department used the vehicle probe data provided by the I-95 Corridor Travel Time website and data from the New York 511 website to assist in managing traffic congestion in the area approaching the Woodbury Commons Shopping Complex along I-87 and I-287 on Thanksgiving evening and the following Friday. The sergeant was aware of the data because of his involvement with the I-95 Corridor Coalition's Incident Management Program Track. The police, along with the New York State DOT and the New York State Thruway Authority staff, were able to look at the trouble areas and determine if and when to implement changes such as closure of full parking lots, ramp closures to prevent back-ups onto the freeway, and activation of dynamic message signs to alert motorists to the changes made. This proactive approach to traffic management led to a 50 percent reduction in traffic queues over previous years. Making use of this data through the websites also allowed the State Police to conserve resources by identifying issues on the website before sending a trooper to the scene.