I am all for a well informed ruling elite, so am a bit surprised at my cynicism over a study tour to look at Smart Highways; apparently Hon Dean Nalder, Transport D.G. Reece Waldock, MD of Main Roads Steve Troughton and ministerial staffer Michael Buba are heading to New Zealand to learn a thing or two about roads, Smart Highways to be precise.
Smart Highways monitor types, numbers and speeds of vehicles through the use of cameras, radars and loops, as well as the prevailing weather conditions. A sophisticated computer then compares the analysed information with an algorithm for the road. Information on speed limits and lane usage is displayed on overhead signs. Anyone who does not comply is booked. Having driven on the M62, a Smart Highway in the UK a few years ago I can testify they do reduce congestion and make access for emergency vehicles much better. But lets remember the M62 is a road ranging from 6 lanes to 10 lanes and carries 144 thousand vehicles per day, around 3 times that of Perth’s busiest roads. In contrast the NZ example is to address problems with the Terrace Tunnel, where 2 lanes merge into one, and subject to numerous accidents. The Smart aspect of the highway will be opened after the entourage has left, so at best they will be able to discuss the rationale for choosing Smart Highway technology and issues with retrofitting the technology to an existing road, something I would have thought was suited to Skype and email.
I think my scepticism is born out of concerns that the WA entourage could see Smart Highways as some sort of rationale for the Ste Government’s road building renaissance, I hope I’m wrong.
The group will then go to Singapore to discuss their taxi information system trial, and taxi booking app. Perhaps they should talk to Uber about that!