Traffic lights across city fail

They're not switching and traffic is becoming a mess.

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    Comments

    Query

    Are traffic lights controlled solely locally (at the light itself) -- or is there some sort of communication with a command center? (If the latter, could a hacker mess up the whole system?)

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    Centrally controlled

    At least some of them are. I know when they were preparing for shutting down parts of the Longfellow they had to have all the cameras set up so that they could monitor traffic. The idea, as I understood it was, if they can see problems they can change the cycle times.

    Have no clue how easy it would for the system to be hacked.

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    Not very world classy

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    Manually control over these things is probably half the reason we have problems downtown. Can't believe some MIT stats and computer wonks haven't come up with an automated system. These things are enormously complex and cause all kinds of problems elsewhere if you screw it up.

    I think LA did something digital within the past year and cut like 20 minutes off the average commute - granted 20 minutes in LA is probably like 10% of the average commute.

    But Of Course, They Have ...

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    Can't believe some MIT stats and computer wonks haven't come up with an automated system.

    ... but unfortunately, MIT doesn't control the traffic signals in Cambridge or Boston.

    However, I do know of one traffic signal controlled by MIT. It's a vintage Crouse-Hinds flashing red light. What really got my attention was the sweet mechanical song its partner the control box was singing. Together, they're quite Adorable!

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    Computers and Statistics

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    They don't give a crap about where some city councilor lives and wants priority, and they don't care when some local yokel decides that he or she doesn't believe in research results, facts, or logic and accommodate their ignorance just to humor them.

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    Boston, learn from another city? Ha!

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    Actually, LA has been building out their automatic traffic-signal optimization system since the 1984 Olympics, according to this link:
    http://trafficinfo.lacity.org/about-atsac.php
    Real-time, by the minute adjustment of signal timing, automatically optimized by computer, for 4400 traffic signals.

    http://www.cityofboston.gov/images_documents/TMC%20Annual%20Report%20FY2...
    Boston, on the other hand, says they can centrally monitor and adjust about 2/3 of the signals (manually) in case of special events, etc.
    But there is no dynamic optimization: they say their 'goal' is to do a manual tuning of each intersection at least every 5 years, but in the
    report it says they accomplished this for 94 out of 845 signals last year, which works out to more like 9 years between adjustments.

    World class, indeed...

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    Some are, some aren't

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    The older ones are not centrally controlled. They have to send out a technician to those gray boxes which clutter up the sidewalks. You may have seen someone fiddling with those, wearing a BTD jacket -- they were probably adjusting timing or doing maintenance.

    The new ones they install are centrally controlled. For example, the lights that were reinstalled as part of Comm Ave Phase I are all computer controlled from the center office, but the remaining lights on Comm Ave that were not replaced are old-fashioned style.

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    Yes! I believe it was

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    Yes! I believe it was Tremont and West Newton that was stuck on red for Tremont traffic. What a mess!

    Let me guess

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    They can't handle non-freezing temperatures now?

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    Lights

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    Experienced this around 7:45 on Cambridge and Tremont in the West End and Govt Center. Lights not blinking yellow, but frozen. Folks just started running the Reds en masse at a certain point. No cops at that point. Must have really been a mess after 8:00.

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    Hey...

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    Just like the red line!

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    Hooray for life-critical

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    Hooray for life-critical technology that has a single point of failure.

    Traffic lights

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    Thx for the scoop, I noticed the left turn only signal going N on Mass Ave onto W on Tremont no longer seems to work. It's what gets me to work on time so I may have to re-route!