City of Austin Performance Report 2014-15

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

Measure Description
This measure is a key indicator taken from the annual City of Austin Community Survey. The main objective of this survey is for City Officials to have a useable tool to assist in decision making by providing information on residents’ perceptions, opinions, and usage of specific City divisions and services. A stratified random sample of households in the City is used as a representative sample of the general population.
Calculation Method
This measure is calculated as the total number of “very satisfied” and “satisfied” responses on the survey, expressed as a percentage of total responses. The measure excludes those who left the question blank or reported “don’t know.”  
FY 2014-15 Results
The satisfaction with the signal timing on major streets decreased from 44% in FY 2013-14 to 41% in FY 2014-15, falling short of the goal of 44%.
Assessment of Results
The citizen satisfaction with signal timing decreased 3% from the previous year, despite the 17% travel time savings that resulted from retiming 162 signals in the past year. The reduced satisfaction possibly stems from a general increase in congestion due to population growth or to limited signal staff resources in past years. To address this, the Department added three engineering positions for signal timing in FY 2014-15; however, Austin now has four signal engineers responsible for 1000+ traffic signals, falling below the recommended practice of one traffic signal engineer for every 200 signals. In addition, the demands placed on the City’s signal timing staff is being spread out as resources are required to address increased emphasis on the multimodal needs of the community, such as transit signal priority for Capital Metro’s MetroRapid routes, pedestrian hybrid beacons to provide pedestrian connectivity, and increased safety for the biking community.
Pedestrians on the sidewalk
Next Steps
For FY 2015-16, ATD is in the process of expanding the staffing levels and hours of operation of its Transportation Management Center (TMC) through a contract with a consulting firm. The staffing of the TMC with a consulting firm will allow existing staff more time to devote to signal timing. ATD is also leveraging technology and its investment in Advanced Transportation System Management (ATMS) to assist with improving signal timing. For example, the adaptive signal control ATMS application is currently in a pilot project phase. This application provides more flexibility for the signal timing to adjust to changing traffic volumes than can be done today. During periods of time where the Austin streets are at capacity, adaptive signal control is not expected to eliminate congestion. Rather the primary benefit should be during the shoulders of the peak periods, around special event sites, during incident conditions when traffic diverts from the freeway to arterial streets and in off-peak times.
Contact Information
For more information contact Robert Spillar, P.E., Transportation Director at (512) 974-2488.