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post #16 of (permalink) Old 18th January 2007
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TMC let me down again big-time yesterday. I'm thankful that I still have my TrafficMaster YQ2. Apparently, there was an accident on the M56 in rush hour traffic blocking one lane and the YQ was showing an average speed of 5mph around J10. TMC was showing nothing this side of Thelwall Viaduct (high winds.) Sure enough, I got to J12 and the traffic was already queuing back to there. Based on the information that the YQ had given me, I diverted through Runcorn. If I'd only had TMC to rely on, I'd probably have been stuck with a good half hour delay.

This strikes me as odd, because apparently TrafficMaster DO supply data to the TMC service. I originally thought they were two competing services, but I queried them on it last time I renewed my YQ key, and they reckoned that their camera network fed into the TMC data. So I'm baffled as to how it can miss stuff like this.

The biggest problem with TMC is that it doesn't just use the live information. It uses 'known problems' as well. Now in some cases this is an advantage, but often it'll divert you around motorway roadworks when the traffic through them is flowing perfectly well. My factory sat-nav won't let me directly onto the M56 at J15 at the moment. It insists that I take the A5117 and join it at J14. This makes sense if there's a tailback for the roadworks at J12, but that only happens at peak times. The rest of time time, it's much quicker to take the motorway from J15.

But not everyone has a YQ, and TMC is better than nothing. And it's probably more accurate than those pointless three line matrix signs that generally only tell you "Queue ahead" when you're already stuck in standing traffic. What a wonderful waste of taxpayers' money they were. If you have the option to get TMC for free, then go for it.

Speaking of matrix signs, here's one that tickled me from yesterday's hold-up. Approaching the queue for the incident, the old flashing light and numbers matrix signs were lit up and flashing 50. The silly part? This was in the 40mph roadworks over the Weaver viaduct.
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