About i-TRAFFIC

i-TRAFFIC is a free traveler information service that gives you live traffic reports, transit planning and commuter service information in South Africa via a website. Visit i-traffic.co.za to check real time traffic speeds, find traffic alerts, or view live traffic cameras.

Background

In line with Government’s commitment to transform the public sector, The South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (SANRAL) was established in April 1998 by an Act of Parliament as an independent statutory company operating along commercial lines and at arm’s length from Government. The purpose of the company, which is registered in terms of the Companies Act – with the Minister of Transport as the sole shareholder – is to maintain and develop South Africa’s expanding national road network (currently 16 170 km) and to manage assets with an estimated value of more than R6,5 billion (excluding land). Replacement value is more than R50 billion.

SANRAL’s vision is to be recognised as a world leader in the provision of a superior primary road network in Southern Africa.

As part of it’s mission and as the custodian of a public good SANRAL is committed to the advancement of the Southern African community through:

  • a highly motivated and professional team;
  • state-of-the-art technology;
  • proficient service providers; and
  • promoting the ‘user pay’ principle.
Severe traffic congestion is experienced on freeways in most major cities of the world, and South Africa is no exception. Congestion has a negative effect on productivity, the running costs of vehicles, the amount of time people spend with their families, as well as on the environment. Besides recurring congestion which is normally experienced on weekdays during AM and PM traffic peaks, the occurrence of incidents on freeways such as crashes and stationary vehicles during both on and off traffic peaks, add further delays to travel times. The ability to detect, respond and normalise an incident on a freeway as efficiently as possible, will not only save significant time and road user costs, but could also be the determining factor between life or death for those involved in serious freeway crashes.

In keeping in line with it’s mission and to ensure optimal use of existing road space, SANRAL has explored the use of technology on the road network. These innovative solutions are known as intelligent transport systems (ITS) and referred to as Freeway Management Systems (FMS). SANRAL launched its first ITS project in September 2006 in Gauteng. Subsequently, ITS has been deployed in the metropolitan areas of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni in Gauteng, eThekwini and Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu- Natal and Cape Town in the Western Cape.

The aim of the FMS is to reduce recurrent congestion, with its accompanying impact on the environment; to improve road safety; to keep motorists informed of travel conditions; and to respond rapidly to road incidents. The FMS allows for the collection of real-time information, which is conveyed to a transport management centre. The centre processes the data and uses the information to manage traffic flow and disseminate information to the road user.

The three regional Transport Management Centres (TMC’s) are located in:

  • Gauteng TMC: Located in the Open Road Tolling (ORT) Central Operations Centre in Rooihuiskraal. This facility shall accommodate all centralised operations for the Gauteng Region.
  • Gauteng ORT Satellite Centres: The IMS response teams and incident response.
  • KwaZulu-Natal TMC: Located in SANRAL’s Eastern Region TMC in Pietermaritzburg.
  • Western Cape TMC: Located in the Cape Town TMC at Goodwood.

SANRAL’s FMS enterprise includes Advanced Transportation Management System (ATMS) software to support incident management activities and manage ITS devices, Advanced Traveller Information System (ATIS) Software and Hosted Internet solution to support the aggregation and dissemination of real-time and non-real time traveller information, computer aided dispatch/automated vehicle identification/automated vehicle location software to facilitate the dispatch of incident response.

Traveller information can be considered as one of the most important services that can be supported through the application of ITS.. The delivery of decision-quality information to travellers has dual functions as both a demand management tool and as a ‘user guide”. SANRAL’s traveller information system will serve as a pre-trip and en-route tool to assist travellers with various aspects of trip planning including route selection, travel time, and even mode.

In essence the FMS utilises technology to collect real time traffic information through various devices and mediums. These include closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, enhanced communications; traffic detection and traffic information devices. Variable Message Signs have been placed at strategic positions on the network to influence travel patterns and inform road users of real-time and projected traffic conditions due to accidents, scheduled road works, weather advisories and special events. Electronic “tactical warning signs” will be strategically positioned to alert drivers of potential traffic hazards, improving safety and reducing the risk of incidents.

In addition, future advanced traffic management techniques such as ramp metering, shoulder lane running, and variable speed limits will be considered.

Response co-ordination to an incident with other authorities (such as municipal traffic control) to reduce the delay caused by an incident is key to the objectives of the Freeway Management System.

Gauteng FMS

Gauteng has its own FMS with the following coverage:

  • The N1 from the Golden Highway interchange (southwest of Johannesburg) to the N4-east (experimental farms interchange) to the east of Pretoria.
  • The N12, south of Johannesburg from the interchange with the N1 to the interchange with the N3 (Elands interchange), as well as that portion of the N12 from the N3 (Giloolly’s interchange) to the Snake Road interchange in Benoni.
  • The N3 from the Buccleuch interchange to the Old Barn interchange at Heidelberg.
  • The N17 from its origin at the Johannesburg CBD to the Rondebult Road interchange.
  • The R21 from the N1 interchange (Flying Saucer interchange) to its interchange with the N12.

The Gauteng FMS has been operational since September 2006.

In total, approximately 220 km of the busiest freeways in Gauteng are under surveillance and form part of the Gauteng Freeway Management System (Gauteng FMS). SANRAL have funded the implementation of the Gauteng FMS which comprises over 250 CCTV cameras and 50 electronic boards, referred to as Variable Message Signs (VMS).

For the Gauteng region, SANRAL will play a more active role in incident management by offering on-road services to clear, or assist with the clearance, of an incident. This includes on-road services that could assist with various types of incidents (incident support unit), a medical assistance unit, and light and heavy towing vehicles.

The success of the Gauteng FMS project to date has been the collocation of incident management stakeholders in the same building, viewing the same video feed.

Road users can share in the benefits of being informed on a real time basis of any incidents on Gauteng’s freeways by following http://twitter.com/itrafficgp. This twitter site is updated by FMS operators as and when incidents occur, as well as the status of the incident.

KwaZulu Natal

The KwaZulu-Natal Freeway Management System (FMS) covers around 100 kilometres of the most trafficked sections of the N2 and N3 national roads. The extent of the network coverage on the N2 is from the Prospecton interchange to the Watson Highway Interchange. On the N3, the network extends from just before the Candella Road bridge at its eastern end to Camperdown in the west.

The freeway sections are monitored by 118 cameras (55 along the N2, 62 along the N3 and 1 on the M13). In addition to the cameras, there are 18 variable message signs (including single units on the M13 and M7) located at strategic points along the network to convey relevant real time information to road users. All these devices are linked via a high speed fibre optic communications backbone to a Transport Management Centre (TMC) located at the SANRAL offices in Pietermaritzburg.

The SANRAL KZN TMC began operations in May 2010 shortly before the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The TMC operators work closely with various stakeholders including local transport authorities, traffic and emergency services officials, the South African Police Service and the KZN Road Traffic Inspectorate to ensure that traffic related incidents are attended to efficiently and as quickly as possible, with the least possible disruption to traffic flow.

The TMC deals with an average of 150 traffic related incidents per month. Stationary vehicles (mostly heavy motor vehicles) account for around 66% of the total incidents followed by vehicle accidents at around 27%. The highest frequency of traffic incidents occur on sections of the N3, particularly between the Key Ridge and Cato Ridge interchanges and more especially between the Spine Road interchange (Pavilion shopping mall) and the EB Cloete systems interchange (“Spaghetti Junction”).

The FMS also includes monitoring of the Tongaat mainline, King Shaka ramp and Mariannhill mainline toll plazas on the current network. With the realised benefits of such ITS deployments, SANRAL has commenced with the expansion of the network to cover the section on the N3 between Camperdown and Cedara. This will include traffic hotspots like Town Hill and the Chota Motala interchange. The SANRAL FMS will also establish links with the N3TC toll concessionaire FMS systems currently in deployment, to enable better management of the N3 corridor.

Road users can also be informed on a real time basis of any incidents on the SANRAL KZN FMS network by following us on Twitter on the handle #i- trafficKZN. Traffic related tweets are posted by the TMC operators as and when incidents occur, as well as the status of the incident and in certain instances photos as well.”

Cape Town Freeway Management System

Cape Town has its own FMS covering the N1 from the CBD to the Huguenot Toll Plaza, the N2 from the CBD to the top of Sir Lowry’s Pass, the R300 between the N1 and the N2, the M5 between the N1 and N2, and the N7 between the N1 and Potsdam Interchange.

In all, approximately 150 km of the busiest freeways in Cape Town are under surveillance and form part of the Cape Town Freeway Management System (CT FMS). SANRAL together with the Provincial Government of the Western Cape and the City of Cape Town have funded the implementation of the CT FMS which comprises over 200 CCTV cameras and 48 electronic boards, referred to as Variable Message Signs (VMS). VMSes are used only to convey real time and relevant information to motorists.

Being energy conscious, SANRAL has also investigated and implemented the use of renewable energy sources to power certain of the CCTV cameras and VMSes. These include the use of wind turbines and solar panels. The renewable energy solution has been designed to provide two days autonomy i.e. two days with no wind and overcast conditions during the day.

The operations centre of the CT FMS is housed in the City of Cape Town’s newly constructed TMC building located in Goodwood. This state of the art building accommodates both transport and safety & security related functions. The success of the CT FMS project to date has been the collocation of incident management stakeholders in the same building, viewing the same video feed. Traffic Services and FMS Operators working together to ensure best quality of service to our road users. The ability to coordinate a multi agency response to a major incident from a single location which has real time video feed, has already saved Cape Town motorists many hundreds of hours of frustration in traffic jams and delays.

The CT FMS has been operational since May 2010 and has responded to over 13 800 incidents on the major freeways in Cape Town for the period 1 May 2010 to 30 July 2011

Road users can share in the benefits of being informed on a real time basis of any incidents on Cape Town’s freeways by following http://twitter.com/CapeTownFreeway. This twitter site is updated by FMS operators as and when incidents occur, as well as the status of the incident. In many instances photos of the back of queue are included in the tweet to illustrate the impact and exact location of the incident, providing road users with as much information as possible to make an informed decision.

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