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Big data car pool a traffic jam saver

AAP logoAAP 29/07/2016 Andrew Leeson

The rise of big data has given new hope that car pooling could be the solution to opening up Australia's gridlocked city roads.

From disrupters like Uber to government officials, the potential of massive, detailed trip-mapping data is generating hope that commuters making the same trip each day might share the journey rather than each making their own way in their own road-hogging car.

From Uber's new car pooling service to giving freight trucks a green light run through cities the effective use of data and technology could free up billions in wasted productivity, transport experts and operators believe.

Uber Australia and New Zealand General Manager David Rohrsheim told a Committee for Economic Development of Australia event that big data could allow a fresh approach to the old - and largely unused - solution of car pooling.

"The science team started geeking out and said 'There's a lot of journey's happening... some of them look similar. Could we match them up?'" Mr Rohrsheim told the event in Sydney on Friday.

The result was allowing travellers to choose to ride-pool in Uber cars and also allowing Uber drivers to choose to pick up passengers only travelling to a specific location.

"(It allows drivers to say) that's where I am headed this morning and if I can pick someone up - great, if I don't no worries because I was already going to make that journey," he said.

Public transport networks could respond to peak hour demands by analysing data, Transport for NSW customer experience deputy secretary Tony Braxton-Smith said.

"All of those things are going to converge in some way, shape or form to assist us in dynamically managing demand and help us deliver mobility to our customers," Mr Braxton-Smith said.

In 30 years time there would still be a mass public transport backbone but it was in the first and last parts of people's trips that new services such as Uber can step in, he said.

Opening up the trove of Opal card data in NSW could also give researchers the ability to throw up new innovations, he said.

According to Intelligent Transport Systems Australia (ITS), part of a global network of transport technology associations, connected cars and autonomous vehicles also offered benefits for congestion in cities.

"If you have heavy vehicle being pulled up at traffic lights, perhaps unnecessarily, through the connected vehicle technology it can be given priority and be given a green light," ITS Australia chief executive Susan Harris said.

But driverless cars could also cause more congestion for cities if people swap public transport for driverless commutes, Ms Harris warned.

"It becomes important that we then move to a shared model and a shared economy and that we have the social change to go with that," she said.

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