Cebu already has an interesting solution to the countdown traffic light
Last week, the MMDA announced that they will be replacing those very helpful (albeit fixed) traffic light timers with a system that could detect traffic and adjust the duration of the signals accordingly. These systems are known as adaptive timers; a digital equivalent of a traffic enforcer manually directing and allocating the movement of traffic based on what he/she sees on the ground.
Based on the feedback from fellow motorists, many still prefer the countdown timer that they can see as it gives the driver the ability to judge his or her pace and avoid committing a violation. This is especially true in the age of the controversial no-contact apprehension programs (NCAPs).
Perhaps the answer already exists, and it's in the Queen City of the South. On whether an adaptive or visual timer was more appropriate, they simply asked themselves: Why not both?
Along General Maxilom Avenue, the government of Cebu City and the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) already has operational traffic lights with adaptive timers and visual timers. These systems fully integrate the adaptive traffic light, the detection system for oncoming vehicles, and still retains the countdown timer for motorists to see.
What's different with this type of approach is that if the system senses that no more vehicles are coming from a direction of travel that has been shown the green light, it will adjust. The system will flash the timers to alert all traffic, and then shorten the green light to 5 seconds. This way, the system allocates more “go time” to the direction that can make use of it.
It's the best of both worlds as it gives motorists a visual cue as well as adjusting to minimize the time a light is green for when there is no traffic and giving more to the traffic direction that can maximize it. We spoke to the operations head of CCTO on how the lights are working out so far.
"With regards to the new system so far it has drastically improved the flow of traffic after we made adjustments on the time phasing of the traffic lights," said Paul Gotiong, CCTO Executive Director.
The system is already in place in Gen. Maxilom in Cebu; actually, all the intersections of that road already have the combined adaptive/visual timers for the traffic lights. And the best part is the system is actually made in the Philippines by Triune Electronic Systems.
Perhaps the MMDA should consult with Cebu and see how those traffic lights are working out. Last we checked, they seem to be working well, and the fact that it's developed here means it deserves more than a customary quick look.