Bogota, Columbia Piloting A Phone-Based App For Traffic Management

Bogotá, Colombia is piloting a phone-based application that measures traffic and provides data on driving behaviors. The city is working with ClearRoad, a transport tech firm, and Cornell Tech to collect and analyze the data in order to determine the optimal traffic management strategy and congestion pricing.

The pilot, called ParceGo, will run for three months. Participants will record all their trips using the ParceGo app, which will measure overall usage and gather data on driving behaviors in selected congestion zones and main roads. This collected data will be used in designing a system that will eliminate the problem of traffic enforcement, while also collecting funds to finance sustainable modes of transport. The pilot also aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of a phone-based app as a means for traffic management and for gathering congestion data.

“It’s important to set prices that will achieve the city’s goals, reducing congestion, raising revenues, and providing equitable access to the roadways,” said Dr Nikhil Garg, Assistant Professor at Cornell Tech. “To set these congestion prices, we need to know how people will react to the prices: will they pay, change their route, or change their trip? And it’s especially important to understand how people will differ in their responses.

In prior years, the city – which the INRIX index has ranked as the world’s most congested, regulated traffic based on license plate numbers and the day of the week. In 2020, an enhanced version was introduced with paid exemptions, and a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) exemption program. But, the system has faced challenges related to enforcement and manual verification that has limited its effectiveness.

“Our hope in participating in the pilot is to understand these questions [on pricing and behavior], and to develop the technical tools needed to provide better congestion pricing in the future,” said Garg.