Houston TranStar, a national leader in freeway incident management, uses state-of-the-art technologies to reduce congestion on major
roadways. Monitoring traffic incidents with more than 730 regional Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTVs), staff at the TranStar
center dispatch vehicles to remove debris or hazardous materials, communicate with emergency vehicles about the most direct routes
to an accident scene, and send tow trucks to stalled vehicles. Dynamic Message Signs (DMS), deployed from Houston TranStar, inform
travelers about expected travel times and traffic issues ahead. Synchronized traffic signals, speed sensors, Highway Advisory Radio,
ramp meters and other devices also help keep the region’s traffic moving. more
When emergency conditions arise such as hurricanes, floods, industrial explosions or terrorist attacks, the Emergency Operations
Center (EOC) at Houston TranStar is activated. Representatives from all four collaborating agencies—as well as such diverse entities
as the U.S. Army, Salvation Army, Harris County Toll Road Authority, Amateur Radio Operator volunteers, the American Red Cross, and
area local governments—come together to coordinate a quick, effective response. The Automated Flood Warning System, Doppler Radar
Imagery, Satellite Weather Maps, Road Flood Warning Systems and the Regional Incident Management System (RIMS) comprise some of the
tools used to address the emergency. more
The benefit of having multiple agencies under one roof for pooling information and resources gives Houston TranStar partners an
advantage over other agencies who work alone. Because of joint transportation projects, combined emergency response efforts and
general day-to-day cooperative operations, TranStar enjoys a worldwide reputation for innovation and efficient use of resources.
Houston TranStar was the first center in the nation to combine Transportation and Emergency Management centers, and the first to
bring four agencies together under one roof. Houston TranStar’s web site, nationally and locally recognized for the breadth of
information it offers the general public, allows subscribers to receive personalized travel time updates and incident warnings,
as well as providing up-to-the-minute traffic and weather information.
In 2010, Houston TranStar pioneered the use of traffic monitoring using Anonymous Wireless Address Matching (AWAM).
AWAM currently uses anonymous addresses from Bluetooth network devices to identify probes and calculate travel times and speeds
on instrumented roadway segments. This innovation allows Houston TranStar to provide travel updates to drivers during daily
commutes as well as in emergency evacuation situations.
Here's a short video about some of the innovative activities that TranStar is involved in.
Houston TranStar’s benefits are well-documented and quantified by the Texas Transportation Institute, the transportation
research arm of Texas A & M University.
TranStar’s transportation management activities have reduced the public’s travel times and fuel consumption (more than
$2.5 billion saved since the program’s inception), and has lowered exhaust emissions (4,592 tons of hydrocarbons, 30,177 tons
of carbon monoxide and 6,465 tons of nitrogen oxides). In 2009, the savings in travel time lowered fuel consumption by 21.2 million gallons. The reduction of 21.2
million gallons of fuel is equivalent to an estimated reduction of 458 tons of hydrocarbons; 2,964 tons of carbon monoxide; and 667 tons of nitrogen oxides.
In 2009, travel delays cost the region just under $534 million. However, by actively managing traffic incidents and providing travel information to the public,
Houston TranStar offset travel delays in the region by almost 11.3 million vehicle hours, for a monetary benefit of $227 million.
Emergency management activities and warnings have decreased the number of injuries, deaths, and extensive property damage
caused by floods and other weather-related and/or man-made events.
The annual cost to operate Houston TranStar is $27.7 million. Divided into TranStar's annual benefit of $274 million, the benefit/cost ratio is 9.9. So for every $1 spent on Houston TranStar, the region realizes a benefit of $9.90.
Since its inception 13 years ago, TranStar has saved commuters nearly $2.5 billion in reduced traveler delays and fuel costs.