MTC partners with Waze to ease Bay Area traffic

Company provides real-time traffic, road-condition information

The agency responsible for helping plan and finance the Bay Area's transportation systems is teaming up with a tech company that crowdsources real-time traffic information in order to ease congestion on the region's notoriously clogged roadways.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Waze announced Thursday the data-sharing partnership, which is intended in part to provide drivers with better real-time traffic and road-condition information.

"The more data we receive, the better our maps become and the better our maps become, the better our routes become," said Waze spokeswoman Meghan Kelleher. "If we work together we can outsmart traffic."

Waze will share the information that is collected by its users via cellphone apps about traffic and road conditions. In return, MTC will share similar information from its Freeway Service Patrol, a fleet of 71 tow trucks that patrol the region's roadways during the morning and evening commutes looking for stranded vehicles that are blocking traffic.

"(Traffic) incidents will be cleared faster and more efficiently, and people will get rescued a little more quickly because the information will be coming from Waze," said MTC spokeswoman Brenda Kahn. "It's a two-way street for clearing roads."

MTC is not the first public agency to partner with the tech company, which bills itself as a "social navigation pioneer." Other Waze partners include Caltrans, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the City of Sacramento, Kelleher said.

The Waze app displays the fastest driving routes based on real-time traffic data that is collected by users who are out on the roads.

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3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Good to see that at last we appear to be using technology to speed up traffic efficiency. The Bay Area is way beyond other countries in doing this. While we are at it, can we please pay bridge tolls online before we cross a bridge or within 24 hours of crossing like other traffic bridge tolls without buying a fastrak or waiting for the mail?

Now, if only we could get some technology to help us park and pay for parking. That would truly be progress!

23 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 15, 2016 at 4:04 pm

WAZE is not a tech company. WAZE is a subsidiary of GOOGLE.

One of the main functions of WAZE is to push cars off of the freeways and into residential neighborhoods where there may (or may not) be more room for the traffic. How well this diverted freeway traffic behaves on residential streets is largely a function of law enforcement. I hope PAPD is up to the task.

25 people like this
Posted by What a Laugh!
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 15, 2016 at 5:01 pm

I have had WAZE send me miles out of my way through residential streets only to wind up, literally, exactly behind the cars I had been behind on the freeway. All that zig-zagging for nothing!

They have also sent me up Hiway 9 to Santa Cruz on a day when there had been very little traffic in that direction on Hiway 17, which would have been faster and no one would have vomited.

The ONLY thing WAZE has been good for is alerting the driver to accidents already on the side of the freeway, and showing where the CHP are hiding!

15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 15, 2016 at 6:59 pm

What they really need to do is convert all HOV lanes to Lexus lanes. The bottleneck at San Antonio due to having 2 carpool lanes there crams 3 lanes into a standstill while the other two are flying dangerously. How in the world did this reckless idea of having TWO carpool lanes come into fruition?

Just north of there, the congestion is compounded by the reckless decision by Caltrans to close a lane for over a year, driven by vocal flood alarmists. Was it worth it?

Do they even do a cost-benefit analysis of anything???

The traffic chaos is NOT because there's too many single-occupant vehicles (this is a problem of overpopulation, not transportation preference).

The traffic chaos is DELIBERATELY created by uncoordinated bureaucracies clashing against each other and pointlessly taking away lanes.

The result? Chaos, accidents, traffic, deaths. Your "tax dollars at work".

23 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 15, 2016 at 9:45 pm

Waze is counteracting any city efforts to calm traffic on neighborhood streets. Cars are racing down Everett and Hawthorne as a cut through between Alma and Middlefield to avoid the traffic on Lytton and University. It has become a very real problem and safety issue.

12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2016 at 11:13 pm

From my experience with Waze, it is ridiculously counter productive to leave a highway to avoid traffic unless nothing is moving at all. When I use Waze for finding an address I am unfamiliar with, which is mainly how I use it, I have no idea if the route it chooses is an alternative because of traffic or the best route. I think Waze programming should be more clear as quite often it would be best to stay on the main route but it is impossible to know sometimes whether you have been diverted because of traffic.

Waze please note.

9 people like this
Posted by We are the traffic.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 16, 2016 at 10:43 am

We are the traffic. is a registered user.

We create congestion by making foolish choices. I just watched my neighbor get in her car with a tennis racket to drive three blocks to play tennis (for exercise). Hilarious.

The other day the Weekly ran an article in which a woman complained that she couldn't make headway on her street, so she parked her car in her driveway and walked TEN minutes (yes, that was ten minutes) to her planned destination. I have to ask--Why did she get in her car in the first place for a destination that was ten minutes walking distance?

I realize that some people have physical limitations that make walking or biking impossible, but most of us do not. Most Americans are out of shape and overweight. many are grossly obese. There is a reason for that.

Let's get out of our cars more. WE are the problem. When did Americans get so lazy and so thoughtless about their use of fossil fuels? We can all do better.

14 people like this
Posted by Willows Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 16, 2016 at 11:02 am

Waze intent is to turn our neighborhoods into major thoroughfares for bearing more traffic so that they can expand their workforce at the expense of our quality of life.

I sunk the dollars to own a home that allows me to walk to work. My neighborhood is not here to be a freeway for Google or Stanford.

Online media shows
- The "Chief Waze" and lives in Los Altos.
- The "Head of Growth" for Waze and lives in Palo Alto.

Maybe someone could organize a peaceful, passive protest where we frequently drive through their neighborhoods. I am not advocating any possible personal interaction with or harassment of these folks or their families. Just a peaceful, but continual, meandering so that they get a sense of the problem.

Need a route to my dog groomer in Los Altos? I could drive through Noam's neighborhood. Need a way to get to my office in Palo Alto? On the days I drive, I could check out the foliage in Di-Ann's neighborhood.

5 people like this
Posted by JKB
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 16, 2016 at 1:14 pm

There are times when we can't turn into our driveway coming home from work. We live on Chester near Menalto in the Willows, and it's bumper to bumper cars.

Like this comment
Posted by JDD
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 19, 2016 at 1:24 pm

I've almost always found Waze to do a great job getting me from place to place, and it keeps getting better. I must (unfortunately) drive my children all over at different times, with different traffic conditions, and choosing the fastest route isn't always intuitive.

If the outrage here is about people like me discovering that local roads are often faster than expressways (e.g., returning from 101 to my home at 8:45am), Palo Alto can either speed up the expressways, or slow down the local roads, or improve public transit or ride sharing—but I doubt any of these will happen. Keeping people from finding out about their alternatives doesn't seem a feasible option.

8 people like this
Posted by Oy, Weh ist Mir!
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 20, 2016 at 1:50 pm

We discontinued WAZE after it sent us 220 miles out of our way on a car trip to AZ. That was four hours lost!

10 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm

@We are the Traffic,

While it is hilarious for your neighbor to take a car three block to play tennis, that short trip had very little effect on traffic or congestion.

We are not the problem. We have traffic congestion because the Palo Alto city council allowed, even encouraged, developers to build way beyond the capacity of the city's transportation infrastructure and then turn around and sanctimoniously blame the problem on resident's sloth or insufficient fealty to Gaia.

Next time you walk instead of drive, just remember you are not reducing traffic but creating an opportunity for a developer to build another office and bring another commuter to Palo Alto. Walking might make you feel morally superior to your neighbors, but it is not a solution to Palo Alto's traffic problems.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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