TOC and the congestion problem

Can the congestion problem be solved with TOC?

Traffic jams in Groot Bijgaarde, an accident at 6 o’clock in the morning causes enormous chaos. Driving times from Ghent to Brussels run up to more than 3 hours, everyone knows the problem. Moreover, there is now no budget to redesign the entire road infrastructure and build new roads. From a TOC point of view, this is a classic case: A system (the road network) is only as strong as its weakest link (the bottlenecks). To come up with a solution to this problem, TOC uses a very intuitive and tried and tested 5-step process.

Step 1: Identify the bottleneck

This does not always require complex or difficult calculation rules; if we listen to traffic announcements on a daily basis, we know the structural bottlenecks. At the Kennedy tunnel in Antwerp on the E411 in ... Etc.

Step 2: Make the most of the bottleneck

As we will have to live with this situation for some time to come, the only solution is to make the best use of the limited capacity of the bottleneck. (And do not misuse it). Drivers who do not have to drive through the bottlenecks do not do so either. A well-known phenomenon: shortcuts and alternative routes and use of the rush-hour lane. This is nothing new and it is not a real solution. The key (both for the traffic problem and for many business problems) is Step 3.

Step 3: Make all the rest subordinate and be coherent

Each of these bottlenecks has a certain capacity: Imagine 10,000 vehicles per hour at a certain speed (80 Km/h). If we allow more than 10,000 vehicles per hour, the capacity suddenly drops very much due to saturation and traffic jams occur ... So if we are really coherent, we should never allow more than 10,000 vehicles per hour at our bottlenecks. This is called access dosing. Put red lights on the entrances to the motorway and never allow more vehicles in than the bottleneck can handle.
And it works!

Source: De Morgen 05/03/2013: "With a wider ring we also stand still". According to traffic expert Chris Tampere of the research unit Traffic and Infrastructure (KULeuven), the capacity of Flemish roads is underused. ….. Dynamic traffic management goes beyond rush-hour lanes and variable speed limits, "which traffic flows we let through and which we don't".
Proactive filemanagement is officially called that.
Did you know that in Melbourne traffic jams have been reduced by 40% simply by having cars wait in the driveway instead of on the ring road .....

Another example of step 3

Put tow trucks, police, ambulances on standby during rush hour so that the bottleneck can always be evacuated immediately ...

And yet it is not happening why?

Here, as TOC experts, we see the same thing as in the companies: 'well-meaning' local optima! These ambulances, tow trucks, police forces cost thousands of euros a day and some days they won't even be needed for the bottlenecks ... Someone will soon come up with the idea of using these services more efficiently in order to save a few thousand. Locally optimal, but what is the global impact on the economy of our congestion problem thousands or millions?

Step 4. Increase the capacity

This will take some time in view of the budgetary situation.

Step 5: Start again: there is a new bottleneck