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Traffic Management


Traffic Management is the process of adjusting or adapting the use of an existing road system to meet specified objectives without resorting to substantial new road construction.

Context and Policies

  • Traffic management is an important element of an urban transport strategy. The goal of urban traffic management is to make the most productive use of the existing road based transport system by adjusting, adapting, managing and improving the system.
  • Specifically, traffic management is designed to improve the movement of people and goods; to improve the quality and safety of the traffic and transport system; and to contribute to the improvement of the urban environment.
  • Traditionally, traffic management has been involved with the development and application of measures directed at optimising the efficiency of urban road infrastructure. Recently, the emphasis has been more towards promoting a modal shift in favour of public transport and other environmentally friendly modes.
  • Traffic management can assist poverty reduction by improving travel for "people" (as against "vehicles") and "walk-bicycle-bus" measures are highly relevant to poverty reduction.
  • Traffic management improves the flow of traffic and enhances mobility, thereby reducing emissions and fuel consumption.
  • Area Traffic Control (computerized control of traffic signals) systems are the most common traffic management instruments to secure traffic flow objectives.
  • Segregation of traffic, including bus priority systems (such as dedicated bus lanes), can decrease variability of traffic speed, enhance safety, and, equally important, increase the efficiency and attractiveness of public transport


  • Although traffic management measures are relatively cheap and quick acting, traffic management is not a guaranteed, one-time cure for traffic congestion. It needs constant adjustment and enforcement to be effective.
  • Traffic management requires effective planning, implementation and enforcement skills that tend to be in short supply, especially in developing countries.
  • In many cities, traffic management has not been effective due to the lack of a strong, professional traffic management agency with adequate regulatory powers and enforcement capacity.
  • Fragmentation of responsibilities between agencies and lack of inter-agency co-ordination coupled with a lack of staff and resources has frustrated the effectiveness of many traffic management schemes.
  • Although traffic management measures may improve traffic flow, this can generate increased traffic and additional travel. Complementary travel demand management measures are therefore essential to ensure sustainability.


Traffic management is a local government activity. It requires the establishment of a consolidated authority with the capacity and resources to plan and implement a range of traffic management measures. These would be tailored to the local urban mobility system and would comprise some or all of the following types of measures:

  • traffic circulation;
  • public transport (buses and para transit) on-street operations;
  • management and control of parking, servicing and access;
  • demand management;
  • enforcement of traffic regulations;
  • road safety;
  • facilities for pedestrians and non-motorised vehicles;
  • commercial vehicles management; and
  • environmental management (such as traffic calming).

Key Presentations