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Fewer traffic jams

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Graphic elementThe facts

Graphic elementUnless we radically change the way in which we get around, traffic jams will lead to city-wide suffocation in the next decade.
Between 1980 and 1997, the number of private cars in the European Union rose from 100 million to 170 million, with an increase in traffic (calculated in passenger-kilometres) of 62%. The use made of other modes of transport increased much less, by single figures.
A similar trend was witnessed for lorries and other utility vehicles since, in the same time period, their number rose from 10 million to 19 million.
The increase in traffic (up by 2% each year) causes daily hold-ups; every day, these traffic jams are like a long ribbon stretching over 4000 kilometres of motorways. In towns (where 80% of Europe's population lives), the situation has become untenable, with traffic at a standstill, pollution of the environment and dangers to public health.
When the direct and secondary costs of these traffic jams (accidents, pollution, etc.) are taken into account, the total is staggering: 250 billion euros, which is equivalent to 4% of the total output of the European Union's economy.


Graphic elementAction

Faced with this problem, the European Union has decided to place the emphasis on intermodal transport, making it easier for travellers and goods to use complementary forms of transport on a single journey.
On 14 February 2000 the EU's Council of Ministers adopted an important resolution in favour of intermodality, stressing the key role to be played by European research in proposing innovative solutions.
The projects currently under way are using a number of approaches. Firstly, they are playing a role in the use of new communication technologies for on-line traffic management, which benefits drivers, operators and decision-makers. Secondly, they aim to promote other methods of mobility, such as public transport, cycling and walking. Finally, European research projects are trying to increase the use of railways for goods transport in order to reduce road haulage. They are doing this by analysing the obstacles to using railways, such as the need for more transhipment facilities.

Keeping traffic flowing in towns
How can we keep traffic in towns moving? How can we convince the inhabitants to give up their private car and in favour of public transport? The best strategies depend on local situations and the groups of people concerned. The PRIVILEGE project, which is coordinated by The MVA Consultancy (United Kingdom), has therefore come up with a set of ideas based on the specific needs of different categories of users.

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Waterways
In some circumstances, transport within a town may be faster by waterway. This has been shown by the European research project CATRIV, carried out in three major European cities: Venice, Amsterdam and Lisbon. The analysis indicated that if boats and quays are available along rivers and canals, they can offer an effective alternative to traditional 'overland' routes.

Live information
The Traffic Message Channel (TMC) enables drivers, wherever they may be, at any moment, to obtain the most precise information (in their language) on the state of the traffic, with details of traffic jams, roadworks, accidents, etc. This new technical aid will be accessible through car radios on the FM waveband.

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