All you need to know about Joburg’s traffic light mess

Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) says it plans to introduce an Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) amid growing frustration from motorists on the current state of traffic light infrastructure in the city.

According to the Sandton Chronicle, Darryl Thomas, head of mobility and freight at JRA,  said that the ATMS would assist in reducing traffic congestion by improving the efficiency of existing road infrastructures.

The new system would integrate traffic monitoring technologies and transmit real-time traffic data to and from the roadside, the community paper reported.

JRA said that the most commonly reported signal faults were due to vandalism, cable theft or power failures.

“We are aware of these faults and are addressing them by requesting an increase to our budget to hire more traffic signal maintenance staff,” Thomas said.

According to the JRA, it only has only one technician for every 170 traffic lights in the city.

The road agency highlighted that faulty traffic lights were more likely to occur in those areas where construction was taking place – so areas like Sandton, Rosebank and the Johannesburg CBD.

The city owned agency said that it strives to repair 90% of faulty traffic signals within 24 hours but faults due to power outages take longer to fix (on average 171 hours) because they require the involvement of the relevant power entities to restore power.

“Over the past three years, R28 million has been spent replacing aging controller
equipment and R40 million replacing old lead encased cables, making Joburg’s traffic signals less prone to faults in wet weather. Deployment of innovative earthing mats is also underway to protect traffic signals in areas most susceptible to lightning,” it said in a statement earlier this month.

Johannesburg has by far the largest city road network (13,428km) in the country with a proportionate 2,135 number of traffic light intersections to keep the City’s 1.669 million licensed vehicle owners and other road users mobile, the JRA pointed out.

Joburg traffic signals by the Numbers:

  • 2,135 – the number of signalled traffic intersections in the City;
  • 3.6 million – the number of electrical components connected to traffic lights within the network that can cause faults;
  • 32 (R380,000) – the average number (cost) of traffic lights vandalised each month;
  • 81 (R500,000) – the average number (cost) of traffic lights damaged by vehicle accidents each month;
  • R2,500 – the average monthly maintenance budget allocated by the JRA per traffic signal.

The JRA recently launched a Find&Fix mobile app for easier reporting of faulty traffic
signals. Such reports are logged directly with the technical teams and road users can also follow progress reports on when the signals have been fixed, it said.

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All you need to know about Joburg’s traffic light mess