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Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 230640 6-Mar-2018 10:20
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Wanting to better understand the purpose of on-ramp lights. Auckland transport say they are activated based on traffic flow, however clearly this isn’t the case in Auckland as they operate all hours of the day, even when minimal traffic on motorways.

I understand the purpose was to assist with the flow of motorway traffic, however in Auckland all this seems to achieve is complete gridlock on all surrounding streets.

I live in Point Chevalier Auckland, due to ramp signals at Western Springs, all surrounding roads from Point Chev, St Lukes and Grey Lynn are gridlocked from 7:30am until 10am each morning. This is regardless of a free flowing North Western motorway.
Improvements to the North Western motorway and water view tunnels have been eliminated due to ramp lights for the ramp past Newton Rd which allows traffic to flow between the North Western motorway and north to SH1.
The lights at this on ramp mean traffic flows back past Western Springs and completely impedes traffic trying to get to the City via Nelson Street, or traffic trying to exit at Newton Rd.

I understand what the ramp lights were designed to achieve but the negatives seem to heavily outweigh the positives.

Keen to hear feedback.

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  Reply # 1968779 6-Mar-2018 10:31
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Even flow (on the M'Way) rather than stop-start.  Manages the merge so vehicles can merge in without traffic slowing too much.

 

Won't cope with absolute peak traffic, of course.

 

 

 

 





Mike

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  Reply # 1968790 6-Mar-2018 10:46
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I think these lights are a joke - there are far too many times where they are on and there is no-one on the on-ramp, or else the on-ramp is so blocked (after the lights) you cannot get through the lights when they go green anyway (Market Road), so they become pointless.

And the amount of traffic they push into the streets is amazing - I get on at Greenlane, going into the city, and lucky ride a motorcycle.  In a car it can take 20-30 minutes just to get from the end of the queue TO the roundabout.  And that results in people going in the left land  and cutting in on the roundabout. And that means the roundabout is blocked for other traffic.

So in summary they often don't work (in fixing traffic), cause people to drive worse than before, and generate unnecessary comments on geekzone :-)

Personally I see these kind of measures as sticking plasters over the general problem of Auckland traffic.  Getting people out of cars (especially those who drive 1 person per car) is a far better approach.


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  Reply # 1968792 6-Mar-2018 10:49
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Ramp meters improve the merge by ensuring that the left merge lane isn't swamped by excessive vehicles which slows things down for everybody.

 

They're incredibly effective at their intended goal with huge amounts of data to back that up hence they're not incredibly popular globally because they're so effective.

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 1968795 6-Mar-2018 10:56
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sbiddle:

Ramp meters improve the merge by ensuring that the left merge lane isn't swamped by excessive vehicles which slows things down for everybody.


They're incredibly effective at their intended goal with huge amounts of data to back that up hence they're not incredibly popular globally because they're so effective.


 


 



On the North Shore they’re incredibly ineffective a lot of the time because they’re ‘on’ when there is minimal traffic on the motorway but there are huge queues behind the ramp lights. I’m sure that’d be true in a lot of other places too.

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  Reply # 1968796 6-Mar-2018 11:01
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I've always assumed they were meant to be tuned based on the current motorway flow but from experience, it looks like they are set based on time. I imagine some guy in an office trying to guess when traffic is gonna kick in and setting the lights on, and their rate/frequency accordingly.

 

This leads some ridiculous situations with people sometimes queuing to get onto an empty motorway because they probalby didn't account for such or such variable which meant traffic would kick in later than usual.

 

Now this is all assumptions but from what I have seen taking the motorway Northbound from Grafton every weekday, there is no way those lights are tuned to the current traffic flow.


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  Reply # 1968803 6-Mar-2018 11:24
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From what I can gather, based on my experience, their purpose is to move congestion from the motorway into the surrounding suburbs so NOBODY can move anywhere for 2 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the late afternoon.


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  Reply # 1968806 6-Mar-2018 11:29
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Maybe the reason you see an empty motorway after going through the lane lights is because the lane lights are doing their job?

 

Agreed, there is no point having them going when the motorway is bumper to bumper, and mostly, they don't. I travel south from Tristram Ave daily, and at 430-5pm (when I get on the motorway) the lights are usually always off. They are on during the day quite a bit, and during the morning rush.

 

I think they work pretty well.




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  Reply # 1968814 6-Mar-2018 11:39
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trig42:

Maybe the reason you see an empty motorway after going through the lane lights is because the lane lights are doing their job?


Agreed, there is no point having them going when the motorway is bumper to bumper, and mostly, they don't. I travel south from Tristram Ave daily, and at 430-5pm (when I get on the motorway) the lights are usually always off. They are on during the day quite a bit, and during the morning rush.


I think they work pretty well.



Your right, that would suggest they are working if the motorway is clear.

I just fail to see the point, instead of congesting all surrounding streets and making people wait for 20-30 minutes to enter a clear motorway, wouldn’t it be advantageous to just allow them to get on with their journey. I thought motorways were designed to handle more traffic rather than pushing it to surrounding streets.

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  Reply # 1968817 6-Mar-2018 11:43
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They are, but Auckland Motorways were designed for a much less populated Auckland, with far fewer cars.


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  Reply # 1968819 6-Mar-2018 11:48
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Well, there's flowing and there's empty... I do get that it's the whole point of these lights.

 

What I was saying is that I have seen them at around 3pm blocking cars to get on a motorway that had a very low amount of car on it and yet the rate of the lights was very slow. In other words, you could have upped the amount of cars getting in without slowing down the traffic


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  Reply # 1968822 6-Mar-2018 11:51
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I recall there being a bit of a story somewhere in the press a while ago about these onramp lights and the general feel from the ensuing comments was that they weren't effective at controlling traffic flow as much as they were at pushing the congestion to the suburbs.

 

The argument for them reducing congestion on the motorways is (IMO) just because the authority that looks after motorway traffic is different to that which looks after suburban traffic flow and has its own metrics to fulfil.

 

Motorway runs smoothly? Metric ticked off.

 

Suburbs congested? Other department/authority not doing an efficient job - bandwagon jumpers decree that there are too many cars and everyome should ride a bicycle.

 

 

 

Personally, I am glad I ride the bus to work - I used to get on at Constellation Drive on Auckland's North Shore and it could take me 45 minutes to traverse the onramp alone, when the lights were on. I had a company car and was forced to drive to work by my employer...I had no choice but to endure that nightmare every day. It's an absolute joke. I then had a congested motorway to contend with as well.

 

I've seen multiple occasions where the onramp lights are going, but there's no traffic on the motorway - anyone who says they're efficient is clearly misguided, idealistic or has never actually experienced the nightmare that is these lights...and then we have the ridiculous situation that is the merging of the Northern Motorway, Southbound and the onramp at Greville Road...that's a whole 'nother thread.





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  Reply # 1968834 6-Mar-2018 12:10
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On ramp lights do work. They inconvenience a few for the benefit of many. The statistics proved (according to a friend who used to work for the Auckland Motorway Alliance) that after they were implemented the average journey time on the motorways was reduced and the number of journeys completed per hour increased, cementing their future on Auckland's motorways.

 

I to hate on ramp lights, however they are an evil made necessary by poor driving skills - i.e. people who can't merge joining traffic where drivers can't keep a following distance.

 

[Rant Warning]

 

People bleating about the onramp lights at Greenlane and associated suburban jams gets my blood boiling because they are straight out of the Marie Antoinette play book of ignorance and indifference.

 

These people either don't know or don't care that the Greenland onramp is a thorn in the side of the entire southern motorway, causing multi km long motorway jams every day of the week even Saturdays and Sundays.

 

To put this rant in context for non-Aucklanders, Greenlane has multiple alternate routes to the CBD as it is the 2nd nearest onramp to the CBD. You will appreciate why bleating about a minor suburban traffic jam and the inconvenience of having to consider a couple of km's of non-motorway routes can get the hackles up of other Southern motorway commuters who are have no interest in Greenland and have to park up on the motorway until the citizens of Greenlane have concluded their morning commutes to the city.

 

If you don't want to obey the onramp lights at Greenlane, the rest of Auckland would give a standing ovation to any city councillor that had the courage to block-off or demolish the Greenlane on ramps. That dude wouldn't have to pay for a drink in bar for the rest of his life.


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  Reply # 1968840 6-Mar-2018 12:21
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tripper1000:

 

On ramp lights do work. They inconvenience a few for the benefit of many. The statistics proved (according to a friend who used to work for the Auckland Motorway Alliance) that after they were implemented the average journey time on the motorways was reduced and the number of journeys completed per hour increased, cementing their future on Auckland's motorways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is exactly what I was talking about earlier - Stats wil tell you that the motorway runs clearer and more efficiently and that commute times are shorter.

 

 

 

It's absolute garbage - the stats only apply to the motorway portion of the commute. The hold-ups are now in the suburbs (with the possible exception of your nemesis the Greenlane onramp).

 

 

 

To say the stats back up the efficiency of the motorway onramp lights just proves my point entirely...





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  Reply # 1968841 6-Mar-2018 12:23
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I fail to see why anybody could think that removing the lights will fix the on ramp woes. I think in general lots of traffic engineers are idiots (what NZTA have done with the smart motorway in Wellington is all the proof you need of that) but speaking in detail to one after they were installed they are without doubt highly effective.

 

Removing the lights will slow down the merge meaning the tailbacks will occur both on the motorway and on the on ramp. There is no evidence at all to show that the queues for the on ramp would be less if the lights were removed as the lights will allow greater throughput per hour on the on ramp than the same merge without lights.

 

The real issue is that the traffic volumes at these points are too great for the roading infrastructure.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 1968845 6-Mar-2018 12:25
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sbiddle:

 

The real issue is that the traffic volumes at these points are too great for the roading infrastructure.

 

 

Well...I don't think anyone can argue with you on that point.





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