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VISUM: Traffic Information System and Environmental Management

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Complete with results
Project Acronym
E4 (NRP 41)
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues


Background & Policy context

The NRP 41 was launched by the Federal Council at the end of 1995 to improve the scientific basis on which Switzerland's traffic problems might be solved, taking into account the growing interconnection with Europe, ecological limits, and economic and social needs.

The NRP 41 aimed to become a think-tank for sustainable transport policy. Each one of the 54 projects belongs to one of the following six modules:

  • A Mobility: Socio-institutional Aspects
  • B Mobility: Socio-economical Aspects
  • C Environment: Tools and Models for Impact Assessments
  • D Political and Economic Strategies and Prerequisites
  • E Traffic Management: Potentials and Impacts 
  • F Technologies: Potentials and Impacts
  • M Materials
  • S Synthesis Projects

Starting point:


In Switzerland's conurbations the traffic infrastructure is working at capacity, or is already overloaded at rush hours. With increasing passenger and goods transport this situation will be aggravated even more in the future.

The ever greater use of the road network leads to greater vulnerability to disruptions in the traffic flow, and local traffic jams lead increasingly to large-scale breakdowns of the system. More frequent traffic jams increase the environmental burden.

The locational advantage of a region decreases in economic terms. A transport systems management aims to use the available road system as efficiently as possible through technical and organisational measures, and with the aid of new technologies. All forms of transport are included equally in this.

The use of such a transport systems management should counteract the harmful developments described above.


Research content:


The goal of this research project is to assess the impact of a transport systems management on the environment and on traffic behaviour. The object of the research is the Berne transport systems management, which is to be introduced step by step over the next few years.


We pose the following concrete questions:

  • How can the goals of a transport systems management be made concrete and turned into a form which can be monitored?
  • What quantitative effects can be achieved in terms of form of transport chosen, reduction of environmental burden and road safety?
  • What factors significantly influence the impact a transport systems management has, and how can these factors be manipulated (maximise positive factors, minimise negative effects)?
  • How can investment in a transport systems management be kept as low as possible with the maximum inclusion of existing elements?

Since important parts of the Berne transport systems management have yet to be realised, their effects have had to be estimated ex ante (in advance).

As a first step, basic information (research undertaken in a similar context, etc.) was collected and analysed. Subsequently a methodology was formulated to determine the impact of a transport systems management.

Finally, the effects of the system in Berne were estimated with the help of the basic information.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Swiss National Science Foundation SNF
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


Traffic infrastructures in conurbations are increasingly overloaded. Only the skilful application of technical and organisational measures involving all forms of traffic can keep a traffic system working without having to enlarge its infrastructure.


This may be achieved using a transport systems management. The aim is to make the traffic system more efficient and thus to have a positive effect on the environment and road safety.


In the case of the planned transport systems management in Berne this goal should be achieved both by improved traffic information (e.g. P+R guidance system), and through direct management interventions (e.g. ramp metering).

An ex-ante investigation of the Berne transport systems management in the course of this study has shown that transport systems management can improve the efficiency of a traffic system for all forms of traffic.


This means that, through skilful interventions at the right time and place, extensive breakdowns in the traffic system can be avoided.

The quality of public and private forms of transport, especially during rush hours, is raised or can be maintained at a high level, despite the increase in traffic volume.


In certain areas, road safety can also be improved (e.g. through traffic management on motorways).


By comparison, the effects on the environment (e.g. reduction of emissions) are marginal. This is due in part to the fact that a transport systems management has greatest impact during the daily rush hours, and thus the proportion of emissions reduced in relation to the total emissions produced by traffic per day remains relatively small.


The use of a transport systems management must therefore be combined with additional measures.

Only by doing so can we avoid simply encouraging further growth in vehicle mileage, in particular by motorised private transport, as the system is made more attractive.


In order to ensure the positive effects are sustainable, combination with such elements as market economic measures (e.g. road pricing) is urgent.

Applied properly, the external costs (accidents, cost to the environment) and costs of traffic jams that can be saved annually through a transport systems management can be comparable to the costs of operation and investment. Stepwise introduction is recommended, for example in the course of any necessary renovation measur

Policy implications


  • A transport systems management strives for improvements in the target areas of the environment, road safety, and efficiency of traffic flow. Thus it may be viewed as a package of 'operational measures' which can be integrated into conventional traffic planning.
  • The main benefit from a transport systems management lies in the possibility of influencing traffic processes in ways that are locationally and temporally very differentiated. Thus we can guarantee that the whole system (private and public transport) can be kept functioning even with ever increasing volumes of traffic. This benefit is not necessarily connected to major improvements in the environmental sector. Only a small number of journeys per day are affected. The impact remains limited in relation to the daily total of emissions. Significant improvements in road safety are limited to high-flow roads. The number of accidents here can be noticeably reduced through the use of a traffic management system.
  • The application of a transport systems management alone will not shift a significant number of private journeys to public transport. It improves the efficiency of the whole system. A significant transfer effect could only be achieved through restrictive measures on motorised private transport.
  • In order to ensure the sustainability of the positive impacts of a transport systems management, additional supportive measures are needed. First, there are market-economic measures (polluter pays principle for external costs, higher prices for reduced possibilities, etc.). Comprehensive parking management is also indispensable.
  • The elements of a transport systems management can be introduced step by step, since as a rule they have detectable effect even as individual measures. Introduction in the context of essential renovations is also recommended.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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