The goals of integrated traffic management in Frankfurt/Main are bound to the basic principle of sustainable, appropriate traffic flows while ensuring that mobility needs are met. The goals of boosting public transport and reducing motorised transport to only the economically necessary are of special importance. The growing rate of motorisation and the resulting increase in traffic are causing increasingly major traffic problems, the negative effects of which impact not only motorised private transport, but also local public transport with growing severity. These developments are expected to continue in the Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region.
We are the controlling and informative level of the traffic hierarchy and face this challenge on a daily basis. We pull out all the stops when Frankfurt’s citizens, commuters, tourists and visitors travel to work, home from work or to do a leisure activity. Our objective is to make traffic flow as smooth as possible, avoiding disruptions or clearing them systematically through strategic influencing if they do occur.
We operate in a very wide range of fields. From planners who develop the strategies to technicians who monitor the systems to operators who are in charge of running the integrated traffic control centre, everyone is an expert in his own field and works to achieve this objective. Together, we are mainziel Frankfurt.
Have you ever wondered who puts the traffic information on the variable message signs? Who operates the traffic management system during stadium events? Or who is quick to make sure that traffic runs safely when a traffic light stops working? This is all done by a highly qualified team of traffic management experts. They work in the integrated traffic control centre which oversees every strand of the complex web of traffic in Frankfurt/Main! Not only was the integrated traffic control centre one of the first traffic control centres in Europe, but it has also been cutting edge since its modification in 2011.
To manage this development and overcome the work that comes with it, the traffic control centre of Frankfurt/Main has been undergoing continual expansions and development since it opened. It was expanded to become the integrated traffic control centre in 2005 in order to pave the way for an effective and future-proof integrated traffic management system. The main duty of the integrated traffic control centre is to perform effective traffic management for the City of Frankfurt/Main. It therefore collects all data of relevance to traffic, conducts operations, controls traffic and distributes information.
The technical equipment of the integrated traffic control centre is extraordinary: More than 80 traffic cameras and 1,200 detectors are evaluated and provide a complete view of the current traffic conditions on the streets of Frankfurt. With around 6,000 signal programs, the operators have the equipment to control over 850 traffic lights. Over 500 possible sign messages in the parking and traffic management systems control traffic in the city centre, at the exhibition centre and at the stadium. Additionally, 18 information boards can be supplied at strategically important locations in the city, making it possible to provide drivers with important information through a free choice of text. Numerous internal and external partners (such as Hessen Mobil, the police, the German Meteorological Service and event organisers) provide information about accidents, building sites and traffic-related incidents which is then analysed and processed. Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt (VGF), the public transport operator, supplies valuable information about public traffic via a data interface. Many of the procedures and control measures implemented on the basis of this information are the result of strategic concepts for the overall traffic in Frankfurt/Main. The operator simply has to look at the large digital monitor wall for an overview of the traffic conditions and can even view a generalised map on it if necessary.
The synergy of the traffic conditions, traffic reports and external information turns the traffic control centre of Frankfurt/Main into an integrated traffic control centre!
The integrated traffic control centre takes an integrative approach and brings all traffic sub-systems together on the level of traffic management. Ever since it moved in 2011, all traffic control systems such as:
- the various traffic computers which control traffic lights
- traffic management system
- the Europagarten Tunnel monitoring system
- the Theatertunnel tunnel monitoring system
- the parking guidance system
- the dynamic traffic information boards
- the exhibition guidance system
- the Frankfurt West integrated traffic control system
- the Commerzbank Arena traffic control system
- and a wide selection of traffic cameras
- have been integrated into the control centre through the user interfaces.
At the same time, information flows into the integrated traffic control centre from a wide range of sources. Some of the information makes its way straight into the central database of the traffic management system through a variety of interfaces and makes it possible to evaluate each set of traffic conditions more accurately and more comprehensively.
The external and internal sources of information are set out in the following list:
- Traffic cameras in the metropolitan area (important junctions);
- Camera images from Hessen Mobil (autobahns and main roads);
- Data from the traffic computers with information about the status and operating status of connected traffic light systems with detector data (count data) and currently active programs;
- Traffic reports from Hessen Mobil (traffic control centre in Hesse) and from the regional reporting office of the Hessian police;
- Traffic reports relating to public transport from Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt (VGF);
- Traffic data from the navigation service TomTom
- Information about traffic regulations for building sites from the transport department
- Information about events (various organisers and the public order office)
- Announced demonstrations (public order office);
- Weather data from multiple measuring points in the metropolitan area including road weather forecasts and weather warnings (from the Meteorological Service);
- Environmental data from the Hessian Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology (HLNUG)
- Occupancy rates of the car parks connected to the parking guidance system.
Some of this information is incorporated into the integrated traffic control centre in such a way that it is displayed on the operating interface of the traffic management program (an interactive map and management software) directly. All of the data which flow into the central traffic management program directly can be retrieved from a central database for evaluation at a later date. For example, the data include light signal system and detector data, traffic reports from Hessen Mobil and the police, traffic condition data, building site information, weather data, environmental data and car park occupancy statistics. Some of the information is sent to the integrated traffic control centre via a central e-mail inbox and is also processed.
The collected data have to be evaluated, analysed and prepared before a decision can be made as to whether or not to pass on information. Through a variety of interfaces, the traffic information is published on the website mainziel.de, the city’s official Twitter channel, the mobility data portal MDM and the dynamic information boards. The estimated effects on the flow of traffic in and around the city are also taken into account. These effects depend on the time and duration, the site or location, the scale (full or partial closure) and any reciprocal effects with other, potentially pre-existing situations.
Building sites come hand-in-hand with all manner of inconveniences. Closed lanes, torn-up pavements and other irritations are all part of the unavoidable growing pains of the city. Building sites affect the traffic and minimising these effects, especially traffic jams, notifying drivers of traffic jams quickly and assigning alternatives for drivers, is another duty of the Traffic Management department: building site traffic coordination.
All scheduled building sites, special uses, events and public maintenance work are registered in a digital map-assisted, inter-agency program.
This digital information is available to the team for the purposes of coordinating building sites. Every operation takes time and space. With the map views in this software, overlapping dates or locations can be identified quickly. The impact on traffic is evaluated in advance and time frames are selected for construction work in order to minimise the negative effects on traffic.
This makes it possible to coordinate building sites in public areas. More than 7,000 operations have undergone this process this year already. We share information regularly with more than twelve institutions (including the Frankfurt office of road construction and site development, the Frankfurt city drainage department, Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt and Netzdienste Rhein-Main) through the building site management program. We are also increasingly likely to share early information with external developers of large-scale and construction engineering projects (such as Deutsche Bahn and Hessen Mobil). Traffic coordination for building sites brings a variety of projects and their teams together at one table. Yet it does not replace the management teams in each individual construction project. We are the point of contact for the individual projects.
Less noise for residents, just one diversion for administrators to arrange and lower building costs, the advantages are plain to see. “Traffic management for building sites shows that the future can only be shaped with networks.
The Traffic Management department at the department for transport of Frankfurt/Main is a team with years of experience in traffic, building site and event management. Its work ranges from making traffic preparations and overseeing various smaller-scale events to 200 major events per year such as the annual Ironman triathlon or one-off events such as German Unity Day in 2015, European Church Day in 2021 or Euro 2024. The objective is always the same: to ensure that traffic in and out of the city runs smoothly with well-informed, satisfied groups of visitors.
To make sure every event runs this smoothly, far-reaching planning and coordination processes are necessary in the run-up. Plans are made on the basis of information provided by the organiser or operator about the date, duration, location and type of the event, access routes, security aspects and expected visitor numbers. Building on this, we draw up a comprehensive traffic concept with detailed traffic inflow and outflow concepts including the steps to be taken, the orders and permits that need to be arranged and the specific courses of action.
Depending on the size of the event, we coordinate with the organiser and other parties (e.g. the police or security services and transport services) in advance as well as both during and after the event. When events are recurring, measures and courses of action that proved effective during previous events are added to recommendations, guidelines and handbooks. These are inspected thoroughly every year and are then verified and quality-controlled.
In addition to sound preparations, the experience of members of staff plays an important role. If a situational security issue should arise, the person responsible might have to decide on appropriate action to take at very short notice. In turn, making sure that traffic flows are uninterrupted requires effective work flow management. For example, the action is initiated once a new measure has been coordinated with the people involved. It is necessary to be able to rely on proven collaborations and partnerships.
The Traffic Management department oversees 200 major events per year. Besides the events in the stadium, the Messe Frankfurt exhibition centre and the city centre are the major attractions. Whether it’s the Frankfurt Book Fair or the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, one of the largest running events in the world, a lot of preparations have to be made whenever a lot of people want to visit the same place at the same time. The overriding strategic traffic measures will then also entail closure plans, route recommendations and information for residents.