City of Los Angeles says all its traffic signals are now part of synchronization program

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Here’s some news that will likely interest bus riders, cyclists, vanpoolers and other motorists: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragosa today announced that the city’s traffic signal synchronization program — begun in advance of the 1984 Summer Olympics — is finally finished.

The above video and news release below is from the Mayor’s office and explains the program, which was in limbo for many years before getting a second wind in 2005. I’ll add my three cents: just because every signal is part of the larger system — a good thing, me thinks — doesn’t mean that every street will be a parade of green lights. Left turns and other considerations make that difficult, if not impossible to achieve.

What do you think, readers and bus riders and consumers of L.A. streets?


LOS ANGELES — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today flipped the switch on the final traffic intersection in the citywide signal synchronization program. All of Los Angeles’ 4,398 traffic signals are now part of the Automated Traffic Surveillance & Control (ATSAC) system. The completion of this program decreases average travel time for commuters throughout Los Angeles and improves air quality by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“As of today, we have synchronized every traffic signal in the City of Los Angeles,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “By synchronizing our traffic signals, we will spend nearly a day less waiting and reduce pollution by nearly a metric ton of carbon every year.”

The signal synchronization program originated in advance of the 1984 Olympics, but was left in limbo until 2005 when Mayor Villaraigosa vowed to finish the project. After campaigning heavily for Proposition 1B, Villaraigosa ensured that $150 million was allocated to help accelerate the citywide traffic control system.

“As a result of signal synchronization, our system increases travel speed by 16% and reduces travel time by 12%,” said Jaime de la Vega, General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), citing LADOT’s studies of traffic before and after implementation. Independent analysis reached similar results.

The main goals of the signal synchronization system are to safely manage the movement of different modes (pedestrians, cyclists, transit, and other vehicles), improve the efficiency of the traffic signal system by optimally allocating “green time” to different modes and in different directions, provide the capability to remotely monitor and adjust signal timing in real-time to respond to specific conditions or occurrences, provide the ability to analyze traffic data, and implement revised traffic signal timing as required

“Finding solutions to reduce congestion is one of my top priorities as chair of the Transportation Committee,” Councilmember Bill Rosendahl said. “The signal synchronization project will improve rush hour traffic flow and help people get to their destinations quicker. I want to extend my sincere appreciation to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the traffic engineers who are currently working to resolve the timing issue at Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset Boulevard. I’m looking forward to the moment when things are resolved in the Palisades, and I’m excited for all Angelenos to experience the benefits of this project, whether they’re traveling by car, bike, or on foot.”

In addition to easing traffic, the intricate network can be utilized by law enforcement and emergency response vehicles, or for unusual signal timing for major special events at venues like the Coliseum, Dodger Stadium, and Staples Center/LA Live.

Categories: Transportation News

7 replies

  1. Los Angeles needs to rethink this traffic signal synchronization program. Many parts of the freeways and street intersections are operating at over-capacity. There are going to be few lanes created to handle the increased demand for traveling by automobile. Speed advantages need to be given to trains, buses and bicycles to reduce the amount of miles people drive in their cars.

    An example of increasing the average speed for bicycles can be seen in a 14-minute video posted by the Mark Wagenbuur on his website BicycleDutch. His route is about 6.45 miles and he only has to stop 3 times at either a stop sign or traffic signal.

    Compare that to the video I posted in his comment section of a person bicycling on the Orange Line mixed use path from Fulton Ave to Canoga Ave. This route is about 10 miles long and a bicyclist is required to stop at most of the 21 traffic signals and 2 stop signs along the way. A Orange Line bus is also required to stop at many of these traffic signals and the drivers are told to slow down to 10 miles an hour to go through an intersection.

  2. Sounds great, but have any or all of the other 87 cities in LA County (including Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Culver City, and West Hollywood) synced their traffic lights with the City of Los Angeles? If not, this is practically meaningless.

  3. I’d love for Metro to have a “How do they do that?” blog entry on Signal Sync. Sometimes when I drive up Reseda Blvd. in the valley I see the little blue “signal sync” signs….while I’m sitting at red lights.

  4. That is very good news. I heard that traffic synchronization will causes induced demand, much like a new road will, so those time savings may be not true for long. But Los Angeles will grow regardless of how long we spend in traffic. So everything we can do to increase efficiency is good.

    I wonder what would happen if DOT gave total signal prioritization to transit lines during rush hours. It may not be fair to those who don’t have the option of riding transit, but would enough drivers then become choice riders to offset the decreased road efficiency caused by giving transit vehicles priority?