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Alberta’s Traveller Information System – The Calgary Experience


In 2004 the City of Calgary entered into a partnership with the Province of Alberta, the City of Edmonton, the Alberta Motor Association, and Transport Canada to evaluate the Condition Acquisition Reporting System (CARS), a web-based traveller information tool. It is the first time CARS has been tested in Canada. The 8-month long pilot project will run from January to September 2005 and achieves both the objective of testing Web-based Advanced Traveller Information System (ATIS) tool for the City of Calgary and the larger goal of testing a system that may be used province wide. The opportunity coincided well with the City’s recently approved Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Strategic Plan where the development of an ATIS was identified as one of the top six initiatives. The function of the ATIS is to collect, assemble, verify and deliver reliable real time multi-modal information to the users of the transportation system so travellers can make better decisions on when to travel, the mode to choose and the route to take. The ITS Strategic Plan spans a period of 10 years from 2003 to 2013, providing direction for the staged development of the system with early emphasis on the testing of various options for information dissemination. In order for the project to be successful many rules and parameters on information delivery had to be formed. Elements including what to report, which departments to involve, the extent of the details provided, the wording of the information and which roadways would be reported on required agreement for consistency and managing user expectations. As is the case in many provinces, the local municipalities use management and operational structures to address transportation needs that vary from the provincial authority and/or other cities. This posed some challenges but did not affect the desire for the groups to work together. Due to time and budget constraints only staff from selected groups are delivering data into C.A.R.S. In the initial stage, the City of Calgary groups involved in data entry included the Detours division and the Special Events division. The groups will provide feedback on functionality, interface, user friendliness and benefits of using a system like C.A.R.S. to deliver information publicly or within the City. The website also provides weather forecasts from Environment Canada updated every 24 hours. Calgary has since decided to also deliver incident information using a data entry clerk to input updates from the Calgary Police Service during the AM and PM peak hours, effective mid-May. Over the course of the pilot project two reports, a midterm report in April and a final report in September will summarise the findings. Calgary intends to use the results to help prioritize the needs for the ATIS and determine next steps. Feedback from the general public will be obtained via an online survey on the traveller information website. Other measures of effectiveness include analyzing visits to the website and reports from calls into the Corporate Contact Centre, the City of Calgary’s information line. After three months of operation, the Web-based ATIS has already been recognized as a valuable tool for information dissemination to a broad audience in a simple, accessible and easy to understand format. Although a significant improvement in roadway coverage and real-time information delivery is required for the ATIS to be truly effective, the City of Calgary has already moved toward acquiring a permanent system by means of a Request for Information (RFI). The upcoming 2005 construction projects on several key corridors of the City (Glenmore Trail, 16th Avenue, Mcknight Boulevard, Stoney Trail, etc.) will truly be an opportunity for the ATIS to play an important role in providing up to date information for both regional and local travellers.

Conference Paper Details

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Yu, J