Why don't they sync the traffic lights?

I drive every day, and fair bit of that driving is around rush hour.

I tend to watch things while I am waiting for the lights, and one thing I have started to notice is the sequence of traffic lights.
It is really frustrating to be going along a street with a series of lights and watching the lights 2 or 3 intersections ahead staying green while yours is Red, THEN turn red when you get the green.
The more I think about it, the more I am convinced the lack of sync between lights is what takes me so long to get to work. Some of the main roads seem to be synced, and this is proven by generally zipping right along thru 6-7 maybe 10 lights before getting caught.

I reckon jumping a single red can sometimes save upto 5mins journey time, so I can see why people do it.

But the feeder lights are not even the same cycle. It’s just stupid. Such an easy and cheap way to reduce congestion.

I haven’t noticed it yet. Maybe it’s because I can’t see that far ahead on the roads I use.

My biggest problem is the road uneven, patched surfaces and thousands of manholes over here in Hsinchu. Some roads are horrible for scooters. They have started resurfacing a few spots though.


i heard in europe/germany they do it to frustrate drivers so they won’t drive through the city but rather going around. probably makes sense to someone up there but not to me at all. alas, in most european/german cities there is a chance to go around because there would be an expressway of some sort and most of all - space. don’t have much of that here so it is just plain stupid and frustrating.
i have to admit though that these main arteries seem to get the priority of a ‘green wave’ (as we call it) and the drivers at the rest of the crossing roads just have to be patient. i also believe that not all of the authorities are stupid and ignorant and probably try to make the traffic flow smooth, to a lesser or greater effort and success. but maybe there are just too many people involved making decisions, as always. for all i know - i just have to time my commuting to the situation - as tiring at it is.

You don’t understand Taiwanese culture.

On my ride to work (Zhonghe to Banqiao) the lights are definitely synched. I know that if I can get through an early set on orange, it’ll take me 15-20 minutes depending on the traffic later on. If I get stuck at that set of lights, it can take up to half an hour on bad days. But there is a very regular pattern of changing lights which can be used to your advantage, as you know when you can take it easy and when you might want to open the throttle a bit to beat the red you know is coming. All perfectly within the law, of course. :slight_smile:

shiner wrote:

please enlighten me then. which part did i miss?

Some lights here are synched, for sure. Some are not. Presumably the traffic engineers are aware of the need for this and are slowly implementing it.

A couple of CNY’s ago during the traditional traffic meltdown I heard some “chief of traffic” type chimp in a uniform explaining how Planet Taiwan’s traffic system is “bu yi yang” and because it was so “bu yi yang” they did not have the capacity to synch the traffic lights… “heh heh heh… paisei paisei…” etc…

after you pass what the stammering cretin had to say through a logic and reality filter what it boils down to is that it’s much easier for them to randomly stop and start the traffic light intersection timers at random so they can stand in the road and force the uncivilized mouth breathing masses to actually stop at the red and wait their turn during rush hour… due to Planet Taiwan having citizenry, traffic police and government largely defined by the absense of a mental capacity exceeding that of bread mould, their “system” is therefore deliberately set up to keep traffic as fragmented as possible, as this is easiest, least brain power intensive solution… Ideally groups of traffic should not be ussured along the city’s major arteries in as efficient and unimpeded manner as possible, as is the norm in civilized countries, but rather lights should be set to stop every vehicle, every time, if at all possible… that way small fragmented pockets of traffic are kept from combining at one of the inevitable bottlenecks caused by the utter absense of city planning and causing a large gridlock situation which may eventually precipitate the unthinkable scenario of the fat, over paid, nancy-boy police having to put their Mahjhong game on hold and actually do something… Obvioulsy, at least for anyone who has an even superficial understanding of “Taiwanse culture” (sic) it is therefore far more desirable to piss trillions in lost GDP, reduced quality of life, burnt gasoline, increased pollution and wasted time down the drain, rather than take the time, effort and wherewithall to develop an actual traffic light control and synchronisation system… f*cking peasants… :raspberry:

I think the government (city of Taipei government at least) could find a university department (of technology/engineering) to develop a program that could be used to control the traffic lights in a way that is beneficial to all users of the roads.

First step: Measure the distance between intersections.

Second step: Calculate the time needed for vehicles to move from one intersection to the next at the desired average speed (say 40kph) for peak and off-peak times.

Third step: Develop a program that can be used to calculate the ideal switching times for traffic lights based on the desired traffic flow.
Feed the data collected in the first two steps and see what comes out.

I know, this is a major undertaking with millions of data and factors to be considered, but hey, millions of data is nothing in todays computing world. Just start with a few major roads during off-peak times and refine the system while expanding the area.

Within a few years, traffic in Taipei would be flowing like the content of my colon after eating too many fresh pomelos…

actually i DO see some kids hanging around mingchuen and jienguo in rush hours with funny clipboards and these counters used by grannies in the temple to count all kind of traffic passing through at a given time. seems they are working on that - or something totally different.
maybe how many hopelessly pissed people are passing by swearing. jeez plasma, what happend to you? nobody likes it as it is but hey…calm. its not worth getting a grey hair about that.

truant, it’s a fact that if i run two early lights in taoyuan, i can get to nei li faster (15 minutes instead of 20)*. it doesn’t seem like much, sometimes i do it because i can’t stand the waiting and watching stupidity that you described.

the funniest thing may be that they are synchronized, just wrong. years of driving the same roads and memorizing which ones need a little boost to beat tells me this. unfortunately, they aren’t properly synchronized, leading to the sham that is traffic here.

the lights in chung li are set up much better, for some reason.

*this is years of research talking. :laughing:

[quote=“Truant”]It’s just stupid. Such an easy and cheap way to reduce congestion.[/quote]You haven’t been here long have you laddie ? They can’t even get one set of lights to work right.

What do I know ? I come from a town of 140,000 people and four traffic lights.

While we are at it, how about placing the traffic lights in a way that they are pointing in the direction of the people who are supposed to see them instead of having people guess which of the lights to follow when approaching an intersection?

Jeez…whoever is in charge of erecting those things, what the hell is he thinking?

“OK, let’s make it a bit more difficult for those morons down there by adjusting the angle of the lights in a way that they it’s a bit more difficult to them. Yeah, let’s do that. But first, where is my bottle of Whisby?”…

I don’t think so, at least not for major cities in Germany. I have seen what happened when the traffic computer in Cologne failed during the morning rush-hour - that actually did keep people out of the city because they got stuck in the jam all the way back onto the freeways around the city for about 2 hours.
Usually the lights are synchronized and run different programs depending if the flow is in or out of the city (i.e. morning and evening respectively), and it works best when you stick to the speed limit.

Here in Taiwan they are synchronized, too, but only if you go zig-zag. :wink:

Here’s the approximate random timing for the traffic light outside my school (every instance is recorded at about 09:45 on any particular morning of the week):

One day: a wait for no less than 99 seconds.
One day: flashing
One day: twenty seconds wait

Any of the above may be noted on any particular day.

My question is why?
If a red light is necessary in order to decrease the danger of collision, then why on another day may the light be constantly flashing? And why the randomness? Nobody is going to convince me that those timings are by calculation only.
WHat really gets my goat though is that even on a day of twenty seconds wait, there is always, always someone that rushes their red light.

I find the traffic lights are well syncronized unless a policeman is controlling them.

Google 交通號誌控制器監控系統 台北. You’ll find lots of information about systems in use in Taiwan. Taipei City’s 2006 Traffic Policy Objectives has some good information about light timing systems. It looks like the usual culprits like III and Chunghua Telecom built the first systems that did not plan for the constant digging up of the streets that goes on here. This is the kind of system Taiwan’s public sector is especially bad at planning and managing once it has been built. Looks like the usual story of failure to consult international best practices and poor implementation. Sigh.

what?!?! :noway: We are talking about lights between intersections(i.e. one block to the next), not lights within an intersection here… I don’t have many problems with the sync of lights at a particular intersection.

In peak hour, I can drive all the way along Chung Hsiao East Road get on the Ti-ding overpass, cross either of the bridges over the Keelung river and be home with a glass of wine in my hand in twenty minutes. I pass about fifteen lights and catch 3 of them.

I think a lot depends on whether you are on a main road or not. I also think it is much easier traveling from east to west rather than north to south. This also depends to a large degree on the road you take. For example travelling north to south on Tunhua is a bitch peak hour or otherwise, however that is not true of Fuhsing which I guess is geared to get you onto HsinHai Road. On the otherhand, travelling east to west is a breeze on Chung Hsiao but difficult on Nanjing, which for a long time went nowhere east but does now of course. Keelung has a problem going North to south because of the narrowing around the Tunghwa night market and the Kungfu intersection; however, if you take that out of the equation, it flows fairly well all the way over to Yung Ho. In side Yung Ho is another story, but that’s Taipei county so who knows what they’re thinking out there.

Yes Fox, I’d agree that Taipei within ‘the grid’ is pretty good, as you describe.