City of Austin Performance Report 2015-16

Percent of Residents "Satisfied" or "Very Satisfied" with Signal Timing on Major Streets 

Measure Description
This key indicator is taken from the annual City of Austin Community Survey. The primary objective of the survey is to assist in decision-making by providing data on residents’ perceptions, opinions and usage of specific City divisions and services. The survey is prepared and conducted by an external third-party vendor to the City of Austin. A statistically-valid sample of randomly selected addresses are used as a representative sample of the general population of the city. The representative sample includes roughly 200 respondents from each council district.
Calculation Method
This measure is the sum of “very satisfied” and “satisfied” responses divided by the total number of respondents who reported an opinion to this question. The measure excludes those who left the question blank or reported “don’t know.”
FY 2015-16 Results
In FY 2015-16, 35% of residents reported a favorable response to signal timing on major streets, a reduction of 6% satisfaction from the previous year.
Assessment of Results
Citizen satisfaction with signal timing decreased 6% from the previous year and was 13% below the established goal in FY 2015-16. The most likely cause for the decrease in satisfaction is increased traffic congestion as more people with cars move to Austin.
Austin Transportation Department (ATD) retimed 231 signals in the past year resulting in a 12.1% decline in travel times. Moreover, during the first seven months of the year, signal engineers split their duties between staffing the Transportation Management Center (TMC) and retiming signals. In April 2016, ATD hired a consultant to manage the TMC which enabled the signal engineers to devote more time on retiming signal. As a result of additional resources, signals with all detection equipment working properly increased from 50% to 80% in the past year. However, despite the number of actions taken to improve signal operations, customers are still reporting a decrease in satisfaction with signal timing on major streets. 
Next Steps
ATD plans to increase staff resources devoted to signal operations. ATD is hiring a signal engineer in FY 2016-17 bringing the total number of signal engineers to six. Despite adding additional resources over the past few years, ATD falls below the recommended practice of one traffic signal engineer for every 100 signals. In addition, the demands placed on the City’s signal timing staff are being spread out as resources are required to address increased emphasis on the multimodal needs of the community, such as transit signal priority, pedestrian hybrid beacons to provide pedestrian connectivity and increase safety, bike signals and detection to address the mobility needs of the cycling community, and technology initiatives and advancements (e.g., Smart Cities, adaptive signals, high resolution detector data).
ATD continues to expand adaptive signal control.  For example, preliminary results for the adaptive pilot study on South Lamar Boulevard are showing reduced travel times on Lamar during the peaks and less delay on the side streets during the off-peaks.  ATD continues the expansion to Burnet Road, Loop 360, and through the ¼ Cent Initiative to Council Districts 8 and 10.
Lastly, ATD is increasing awareness of signal timing initiatives.  ATD will host a social media event on Reddit focused on signal timing in FY 2016-17.  Citizens can participate online and ask questions.  In addition, ATD will launch a public dashboard in FY 2016-17 highlighting the signal retiming program (travel time savings achieved, corridors retimed including past years, and corridors to be retimed in future years). As ATD staff also participate in media interviews, they will incorporate signal program highlights. 
Contact Information
For more information contact Robert Spillar, P.E., Transportation Director, at (512) 974-2488.