Green Means Go

Thanks to a prioritization system, the traffic lights automatically turn green for Böblingen’s bus, fire and rescue vehicles.
Mar 21, 2016 9:25 AM ET

Air pollution, congested streets, stressed-out motorists – in the competition for a better quality of life and economic strength cities are looking for affordable solutions to make their public transportation systems more appealing. Böblingen, a German city in Baden-Wuerttemberg with approximately 47,000 residents, is one of them.

In order to ease the traffic on the roads in the economically strong region, which has heavy traffic, city planners want to make riding the bus more attractive. Together with Siemens, the city has managed to develop an innovative prioritization system for buses, firefighting and emergency rescue vehicles that is as easy to implement as it is cost effective. Stream, which stands for Simple Tracking Real-time Application for Managing traffic lights and passenger information, ensures that important vehicles such as buses or fire engines automatically have a green light at traffic lights. 

The digital Siemens solution requires neither expensive installation work along or in the roads nor costly vehicle modifications. Instead, the vehicles are equipped with an easy-to-install box with a GPS/GPRS antenna. The GPS-based position data are transmitted via mobile radio to the Böblingen traffic computer and then forwarded from there to the respective traffic lights. The continually updated bus departure times can also be displayed at the bus stations.

After a successful test run, the city of Böblingen is now expanding its Sitraffic Stream to cover the entire city. This benefits all of its residents because if more people take the bus then traffic flows better and it reduces CO₂emissions. Also, the buses can adhere to their schedules much more reliably thanks to the built-in right of way. 

Road safety has dramatically increased for the prioritized rescue vehicles as well, since they no longer have to drive through red lights. This also shortens their travel times, which for lifesaving missions is extremely important. The other drivers on the road are hardly affected by the demand-oriented traffic controls and thanks to the cost-effective digital solutions, state-of-the-art traffic technology is affordable even for smaller cities.