The Malta Independent 13 December 2018, Thursday

Flexible working hours, autonomous vehicles and night-time deliveries could fix traffic issues

Rebecca Iversen Monday, 30 April 2018, 09:39 Last update: about 9 months ago

A passionate team of experts have one clear objective; to advance quality of life through improved mobility. Their latest ideas and projects propose for flexible working hours, autonomous vehicles and night-time deliveries round the island, arguing that these could be major steps in decreasing the number of cars on the road and alleviating some of the traffic congestion the country suffers. Rebecca Iversen writes.

Project Aegle, a non-profit organisation, had conducted a study, published a fortnight ago, of real time data collected during January and October 2017, showing that people who use the Birkirkara bypass daily spend around 66 hours stuck in traffic on that road alone, every year.

"One of Malta's biggest challenges is traffic. The Maltese Islands face great challenges in the form of traffic congestion and parking problems. These cause economic losses in the hundreds of millions, as well as a range of preventable health problems," project manager Nicoletta Moss said. 

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"One of the projects we are currently working on is the idea of flexible working hours and flexible locations. In this world of technology we are coming into a time where we do not need to be at the office from 9 to 6 every day. Technology can allow us to be in the same room through a phone or computer. If this were to happen this would mean less cars on the road at peak times, with the office being a place for meetings and team work. Individual work does not need to be done in the office," explained Moss.

She said there is this mind-set that people need to be at work in the office but really if, we arrived at situation where employees have to be in the office for half the time, we would see drastic decreases in traffic.

The next project the team is working on is related to the logistics of delivery trucks and vans on the island. "It is a problem all commuters experience when delivery trucks and vans stop to drop of deliveries at every corner store in the morning," Moss noted. The group is currently forming plans to test night-time deliveries instead. "This will mean much faster deliveries and a huge decrease in stop and start traffic issues. This can all easily be done with a pin code operating system when dropping off deliveries," Moss said.

Moss explained how Malta is such a unique place to try out new technology, arguing that the Island could be a pioneer and leader for trying new technological methods of transport. "I believe autonomous vehicles are the future and could be a great venture Malta could adopt. In this case a car which drives itself would pick you up and drop you off instantly and when you need it, catering for all the people on the Island," she said. 

Asked about the causes of traffic, Moss insisted that anything that makes people not to use their cars for every single thing is great. She explained how smoother road surfaces and better infrastructure decreases traffic times, but added that sometimes even adding more roads, flyovers and junctions could lead to more cars on the roads, which in Malta's case.

Moss highly encouraged the use of bicycles around the island referring to a project  the group are carrying out with businesses, in which a company hires e-bikes for employees who live short distances away, up to 10km. "We will be tracking their times in order to see the system's reliability."

The Project Manager of Project Aegle also suggested bigger use of the sea. ""On an island surrounded by water why not use a ferry system from, let's say St Paul's Bay to St Julian's/Sliema. The ferry system from Valletta to the Three Cities has worked tremendously well."

"It is important for people to realise that the car is not the only form of transport and that at least the notion of car-pooling should be so much more common," she said.

"The idea of smart parking and parking sensors is great and I am a big believer in those, so I highly encourage the country to adopt such methods," she added.

Moss also addressed the issue of driving mentalities in Malta. "The Maltese people are some of the loveliest and warmest people but when it comes to driving, there needs to be consideration for other drivers, which doesn't really exist right now. I am a big fan of the 'merge like a zip' method, where you have two lanes of traffic merging into one. This is where a vehicle from the left lane goes and then a vehicle from the right lane goes, and so on. As you merge, one vehicle from the left goes, and then one from the right. Statistically this leads to quicker times," she said.

Questioned about some of the issues surrounding the island, in particular construction and its effects on traffic, Moss concluded that cranes placed in such ways that block roads obviously causes traffic. "For us the issue with high rise buildings is parking. How can such buildings and influx of people accommodate all those cars and parking in an area? High rises should only be built in places where there is space like Smart City."

"What brings us all together as a team is our love for Malta. We are mixed group of people with several professors working on finding solutions to one of the biggest issues that impact our lives. Project Aegle is intended to provide a collaborative platform where people can share knowledge, propose ideas and implement solutions. Debono group, which founded the group, believes that everyone should enjoy world class solutions which improve everyday quality of life. We are very excited for future projects and we have some interesting studies come soon," Moss concluded.

 

For more information contact:

+356 22 694 000

[email protected]

Debono Group, Mdina Road, Zebbug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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