Portsmouth city council gains funding to kick-start app plans to help reduce congestion

A PLAN to create a hi-tech mobile app that could see drivers get real-time alerts about congestion has been given vital funding to get the wheels in motion.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 25th February 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 9:32 am
The app will be designed to help avoid congestion
The app will be designed to help avoid congestion

Portsmouth City Council has received a £285,000 grant from the Department of Transport.

The cash will pay for the first stage of the scheme – the building of a sensor network in the city to receive information and provide travel and traffic-related data.

The project will involve establishing an on-street test environment to prove that the available technology will work properly.

It comes only days after a survey revealed that the Portsmouth area is one of the most congested in the UK.

Councillor Donna Jones, Tory leader of the council, welcomed the grant and said the app the council is looking to create will get instant alerts to motorists.

She said: ‘One thing the app will do is keep traffic moving, which will improve experiences for people coming from outside the city.

‘It will also reduce air pollution levels around the city.

‘Because we have got smart cameras across the city, alerts will be in real time when there is an accident or a ferry cancellation.

‘Third parties like Google Maps are reliant on updates every half-an-hour or hour.’

The work on stage one will take place over the next financial year.

A council spokeswoman said the aim will be to have the real-time data available via apps, text messages and road signs and would be funded by government grant applications in 2018.

It follows on from the £3m traffic masterplan revealed by The News last year that will see cutting-edge technology upgrade traffic lights to get cars moving and ease bottlenecks.

Pam Turton, assistant director, transport, environment and business at the council, said: ‘This is a successful step for the local authority in order to further develop its capabilities to enhance its day-to-day management of the road network within the city.

‘The funding will help towards achieving the vision of developing and implementing cutting-edge technology that improves road safety, delivers more consistent journey times for forms of transport and by harnessing “big data”.’

But Lib Dem leader councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said he thinks the money should be spent on bringing back the number 19 bus route after it was axed recently.

Mark Mudie, marketing manager for the private hire company Andicars, said: ‘Any sort of update is going to be great but it is not enough.

‘Everyone has satnavs and Google Maps on their phone which give traffic updates – the problem is everyone follows them and then those areas then get congested.

‘From our point, taxis are public transport and should be able to use the bus lanes – they are empty for 23 hours a day.’