High-Tech Computer Models Predict Futuristic Traffic Jams

By Matt Baume
|  Thursday, Apr 14, 2011  |  Updated 2:48 PM PDT
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High-Tech Computer Models Predict Futuristic Traffic Jams

flickr/jczart

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In the future, traffic jams will be just as bad, but at least car owners will know when to expect them.

Researchers expect that their sophisticated traffic-prediction system will save time "every once in a while."

Although it may be helpful to commuters, the real value of the system is in demonstrating the importance of high-density, mixed-use development. By placing households and jobs close together, the Bay Area can eliminate traffic jams once and for all.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission estimates that there are 200,000 people commuting into the Bay Area for work every day due to a regional housing shortage. They hope to correct that with a One Bay Area plan that would build a million new households over the next 25 years. The plan would correct the planning mistakes made in the mid-20th century that prioritized roads and highways.

But until that day comes, the new traffic jam prediction system will allow car owners to plan their routes around anticipated slowdowns. The algorithms would, in theory, know when delays are coming before they actually happen.

Soon, the system will recommend transit alternatives that are faster than driving. So, probably not Muni.

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