12 May 2022

Reducing congestion in Ann Arbor

“If we can do it there, we can do it anywhere.”

Ann Arbor, Michigan represents one of the most complex, challenging traffic management problems in America. Eight Saturdays per year, the city doubles its population as more than 107,000 University of Michigan football fans congregate at the largest stadium in the nation to see their Wolverines take on the nation’s top teams.

For Yunex Traffic systems and the traffic managers who control roads within miles of the stadium, football days are their game days too.

Yunex Traffic and its predecessor parent company, Siemens Mobility, have worked with Ann Abor for well over 2-decades, providing its ATMS system and enhancing the city’s traffic management capability as the company developed new technologies. Like many American legacy cities, there’s little room for road expansion and the city’s core footprint is unlikely to change. Interestingly, in a nod to the company’s global reach, it was a Yunex Traffic team from the United Kingdom, used to dealing with England’s narrow roads who led the way to managing traffic for America’s largest football crowds.

 

Using Yunex Traffic’s SCOOT MMX adaptive control software to complement the ATMS, the team developed algorithms that react in real-time to changing traffic situations and adjust cycle times to maximize flow. Over time, those algorithms have adapted further to adjust flow based on history, even accommodating the less predictable. Sometimes for example, even larger crowds swell beyond Michigan Stadium’s capacity as when the Ohio State Buckeyes come to town, or in rare instances, a game ends early because of unforeseen circumstances, like the 2014 matchup against Utah when lightning forced an evacuation of the stadium.

The SCOOT software has been so successful in Ann Arbor that traffic managers are now utilizing it beyond football games and throughout the city. Kevin Braun of Yunex Traffic’s Ann Arbor team says SCOOT has become part of the city’s every-day heartbeat. “Even though football days focus traffic on the area around the stadium, Ann Arbor is one of Michigan’s most important business centers.” he said. “Tens of thousands of people come to Ann Arbor for work and SCOOT has reduced congestion and journey times.” He cites the University of Michigan Hospital, one of America’s largest hospitals with more than 1,000 beds and 25,000 employees. SCOOT is currently being expanded to manage traffic around the hospital campus during off peak-hour shift changes.

Ann Arbor’s data suggest the city’s adaptive signal control system is dramatically reducing congestion. Overall weekday travel times on managed corridors are down by 12 percent and weekend travel times by 21 percent.

All of Yunex Traffic’s success in Ann Arbor is happening under the eyes of the transportation leaders in one of the most influential traffic regions in the nation. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and connected and autonomous vehicle research center, M-City are both operated out of Ann Arbor and America’s automotive center, is just 43 miles east on 1-94 in Detroit. Said Braun, “It’s exciting and humbling to know that the leaders who are designing the future of transportation are traveling our roads and witnessing our achievements,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for a better use-case study than Ann Arbor, because if we can do it there, we’re confident we can do it anywhere.”