Commuters Need More Traffic Information?

In a Jan. 27 article in The Hartford Courant, Michael Critelli, chairman of the Commission on the Reform of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, writes:

We should have one easy-to-remember phone number that travelers can call to receive reliable, real-time information about traffic, public transportation or other travel issues, and ways to avoid problems. In Nebraska, Rhode Island, Florida and more than 20 other states, travelers can dial 511 to receive instant information about road and rail conditions, traffic delays and other factors affecting transportation. Surveys indicate that travelers value a transportation experience more highly and are willing to pay more if they consistently get accurate, real-time information that helps them plan better.

Why is the first solution – and by Critelli’s account the most important – always to have the government come up with a new program to solve a problem? On top of that, the commission wants to solve a non-existent problem since the private sector already does an excellent job for commuters.

Let’s take a look at just some of the traffic information available to commuters.

Channel 3 WFSB

  • Each morning, they have a dedicated talking-head along with cool graphics – icons, green, yellow and red lines – every 10 minutes on TV to tell you what’s going on.
  • You can sign up for e-mail alerts to get notified concerning traffic problems.
  • They feature many live traffic cams during the newscast. Eight cams are also available online, 24/7.
  • Online, they feature a Jam Fator®, a nice color-coded graphic that provides information on about 10 different sections of highway. Kind of a “road rage” meter.


  • Live weather and traffic every 10 minutes during your commute.
  • They have a guy in a traffic center plus they have an airplane – Air One – up in the air that provides you with a birds-eye view. Bad weather? Car One is on duty!
  • Their Web site features information on Hartford and Fairfield County, with details about incidents.

Now, what information does the state already provide commuters?

The Connecticut DOT

The Connecticut Department of Transportation Web site has plenty of information.

  • They have traffic cams; and plenty of them. Granted, they reload only every five minutes and therefore are not live, but they have hundreds of cameras.
  • They offer a page listing current traffic incidents.

What more do commuters need? Nothing. Providing a 511 service that dishes out traffic information is worthless when we already have plenty of good sources to provide us with live information.

This is a great example of government expansion, for no good reason at all.

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