Smart app to cut down traffic: Tests in UK show big reduction in passenger crowding

A NEW way to help road users and commuters avoid congestion could be developed into a mobile phone app, a science professor says.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (香港科技大學) physics professor Michael Wong Kwok-yee (王國彝) and research fellows in Hong Kong and the UK are using polymer physics for their new method.

Wong explains that a polymer is a molecular chain like the two ends of a piece of string with a starting point and a destination.

Tests using data from the London Underground rail network show their method reduces passenger crowding by 24 percent. Journeys take only 5 percent longer on average.

The system would serve to help road users or others avoid congestion during peak hours. It would also help them maximise the use of transport and avoid a waste of resources in off-peak hours, Wong said.

If the approach can be developed into an app, Wong added, it could help co-ordinate people on the move by using their input.

Research fellow Yeung Chi-ho (楊志豪) said MTR stations such as Admiralty (金鐘) and Quarry Bay (魚涌) are crowded during peak hours and that means people cannot board trains immediately.

Shorter, more popular routes are likely to be crowded and take longer. The system can point people to take less-crowded routes.