Houston Transtar Begins Tracking Congestion on Smaller Roadways

Technology has made it possible to track congestion on major highways for years. But a new tool at Houston TranStar uses Bluetooth technology to track traffic flow on feeder streets. Ed Mayberry reports.

Mayor Parker speakingThis is the first phase of deployment. It's in west Houston, where Wimax infrastructure has already progressed. About 50 Bluetooth-based readers pick up anonymous ID addresses from Bluetooth devices in passing cars to track congestion, as Mayor Annise Parker explains.

"There's an anonymous ID on the Bluetooth set that you may have in your car or on your phone. That ID is read as you cross through one intersection, it's read as you get to the next intersection, and the transit time in between is calculated." 

The first deployment is in a 62-square-mile area bounded by I-10 on the north, Loop 610 on the east, the Westpark Tollway on the south and State Highway 6 on the west. Toll tag readers have long been used to monitor traffic flow on interstate roads and major highways. But Public Works Director Dan Kruger says commuters will now be able to check out traffic flow on smaller roadways.

Bluetooth deployment area
Google Maps

"Any one of our trips that we take day-to-day don't start or end on a state or interstate highways. They start and end at your home, your place of work, your church, your school. For instance, right now, if you want to go north or south in the Westpark area, you've got delays on Gessner." 

"Look, we've got a new red line, here! Westheimer and Beltway 8, if any of y'all were heading in that direction." 

 

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Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...