Forget building more roads and buses - congestion-busting just takes people power says Chris Kearney, TomTom's Asia Pacific vice president.
The Dutch company's research shows that when 10 per cent of a city's residents use satnav with TomTom's HD Traffic system to avoid jams, journey times drop by 5 per cent for everyone.
The NZ system uses information from 45 local authorities including Auckland Transport, combined with data from NZTA, the police, radio stations and the AA call centre. There's even a Civil Defence organisation on board that can enter data directly into the system if a disaster occurs.
Now throw in real-time information drawn automatically from road users with HD Traffic running to indicate travel times and you've got information on traffic flow updated to your portable satnav device every two minutes.
Those with HD Traffic at their fingertips can use it to avoid congestion by delaying travel or using alternative routes, thus easing flow and reducing the number of vehicles entering hot spots. Which is why we all benefit from those who sign up.
And that's the catch of course - you need to buy the device. The cheapest device with HD Traffic is TomTom's new Go Live 820 at $399, and after - the first year subscriptions are $80 to $100 a year.
Does it work? Our real-world trial suggests it does, with hot spots showing up as they develop, the ability to see what's up ahead and to divert to a quieter route. The TomTom calculates alternatives and alerts you to additional delays or improved times as traffic clears.
However, it is only as good as the information it gets, hence the roadworks hold-ups on my west Auckland route.
Phil Allen - CEO of Geosmart, which supplies mapping for NZ - says although other regions have seen the potential, Waitakere council has been poor at data supply, perhaps not understanding the system can reduce overall congestion. He hopes the new Auckland council will be more helpful.