Michael Beer, Berlin Senate Department of Urban Development, Claudia Baumgartner, VMZ Berlin Betreibergesellschaft, and Juergen Glauche, Siemens Industrial Solutions and Services, detail the forward  and reactive planning that went into making the FIFA World Cup 2006 event a transport success.

Two years before hosting the FIFA World Cup 2006, Berlin’s Senate Department of Urban Development set out to define a traffic concept designed to cope with a large influx of visitors to the city.

A team under Michael Beer from the Senate Department of Urban Development and experts from the Traffic Task Force (TTF) in the Berlin-Tempelhof traffic control centre (VKRZ) were looking to ensure that the ‘Berlin steigt um!’ (‘Berlin switches to public transit!’) campaign was adopted by residents and visitors alike. Thanks to the excellent information provided about traffic conditions and alternatives, up to 95 per cent of all visitors abandoned their cars and used other means to get around during the competition.

This was a huge relief, as conditions over the course of the World Cup came as something of a surprise. Success was due in no small part to smooth interaction between the various bodies involved in traffic management in the TTF and the direct flow of information between public media.

All information came together at the TTF, where all the relevant partners of traffic management were located including representatives of: the VKRZ, which controlled the traffic; the traffic management centre (VMZ), which generated a complete overview of the traffic situation in the city; Berlin’s police department, which maintained a direct link with its own control centre; the Berlin transit authorities (BVG) which were linked via their own control centre and that of the suburban rapid transit system; FIFA’s organising committee; the road traffic authorities (Berlin traffic management), which were responsible for implementation and measures, and had an overview of changes made and their effect; and Berlin’s fire department for emergencies.

In addition to the policing activities, sensitive points were monitored from the air by a dedicated traffic observation aircraft.

Up-to-date information
Never before had a major event affected the traffic in a city for over a month, so no reliable empirical values were available. Traffic experts prepared to cope with up to 400,000 guests when games were being played; all would require transit to the Olympic Stadium or public viewing venues. To cope, the Senate decided on basic strategies. The large majority of visitors should be conveyed to the stadium and viewing venues by bus, commuter rail and metro. On match days, a special traffic zone closed to private motor transport was set up around the stadium.

Prior to the World Cup the team from the Senate Department of Urban Development analysed the signal schedules, diversion routes and traffic peaks around the stadium and public viewing locations. It was important to obtain a precise overview of the traffic conditions and congestion distribution and compare them with historical data. The VMZ and its distributed systems and software proved indispensable. Siemens Intelligent Traffic Systems was also asked by the State of Berlin to install an additional 40 Traffic Eye detectors to provide more information at critical points along the fan mile and in the city centre.

Direct links were established with the police control centres and the BVG, the VMZ being integrated as a client. Direct communication between the BVG control centre and bus drivers meant that the latest information supplied by the drivers could flow directly into the VMZ system. As all public transport vehicles in Berlin are equipped with GPS, disturbances in the traffic network could be deduced from changes in intervals.

At the same time, the floating car data of specific lines in the outlying regions were automatically evaluated and the travel times implemented with great detail. Once traffic flows had been analysed, it was necessary to intervene in the traffic planning by rewriting and adapting a whole series of light signal programmes.

Throughout the World Cup, the TTF relied on information provided by the VMZ and VKRZ. Two aspects were especially important for the active intervention and modification of stored programmes: a precise overview of the traffic situation throughout the city so that problems were not passed on to the next node, and knowledge about the control options and programmes in the VKRZ. Staff had to be able to intervene in traffic situations that could not be rehearsed beforehand. Ad hoc intervention had to be possible, which was first discussed and coordinated with the TTF.

For instance, a high volume of taxi traffic was expected along the stadium approach routes, so the VKRZ devised an approach programme for traffic light control. In fact, it was frequent taxi journeys to the stadium that caused congestion.

To relieve this, members of the VKRZ set up new sequential programmes, coordinated them with the police control centre and relayed the information about additional switching operations to staff locally. All this would not have been possible without a system that not only stores the traffic light signal programmes but which can also be called up and knows which effects are produced by which modified programme switching operations.

“Luckily, we had an excellent overview and many control options in the traffic control centre,” says the VKRZ’s head, Torsten Klein.
For instance, prior to the game between Germany and Sweden 30,000 fans converged on Theodor-Heuss-Platz and then walked the 3km to the stadium.

“We would have been lost without the TTF that could make instant decisions and provide a full picture of the traffic conditions in the vicinity,” Klein continues.

The Platz is an important traffic junction from which the Heerstrasse leads toward the stadium. No-one could have known that thousands of visitors would assemble there. In consultation with the VKRZ, the police started manually diverting traffic around the disturbance. After an hour, the fans set off for the stadium together. The police closed the roads while the VMZ informed road users and the BVG that the Reichsstrasse was currently closed, advising taxis and buses to use other routes to the stadium.

Klein: “We knew when the last Swede had left the Reichsstrasse. We immediately sent the city street cleaners in so that the road could be opened up again. After the match, the Swedish fans again walked from the stadium to Theodor-Heuss-Platz. There, the BVG provided them with additional metro trains. For the Germany-Argentina match, we already knew what to expect and guided the fans along a route that was not so critical to traffic.”

Media information
The rapid transit system is able to carry around 80,000 visitors to and from the stadium. The suburban railroad can take around 30,000 visitors per hour in both the easterly and westerly directions and the metro can carry around 19,000 guests toward the city centre. Another challenge for Michael Beer’s team lay in publicising the facilities. The concept comprised several measures. The Berlin Senate Department’s huge ‘Berlin steigt um!’ campaign explained to Berlin’s inhabitants and World Cup visitors how traffic would be organised during the competition.

Very early on, the Senate Department announced that the special traffic zone would be set up and that anyone arriving in Berlin by car could park on the exhibition grounds. From there, commuter rail and metro trains would convey guests to the stadium. In the immediate run-up to event days, this intensive publicity work was supported by FIFA’s organisation committee and Berlin traffic management. A special traffic news agency (VNA) was set up by the latter to relay to the media processed information received from the VMZ and VKRZ on current traffic conditions and planned measures.

The media were served by an internet portal which fed both up-to-date traffic reports and forecasts for the next few days. Every 30 minutes, and 10 minutes before each full hour, a one- to six-page traffic report was emailed to journalists and broadcasters. These traffic reports contained information not only in German and English, but sometimes even in Polish or Ukrainian.

Not only was this information broadcast as a regular report from the regional police information centre, it was conveyed via the media to Berlin’s population and World Cup guests for everyone’s benefit.
As a result, 95 per cent of visitors travelled to the stadium by transit on the first day of play.

This dropped slightly during the championship but always remained above 80 per cent, considerably higher than in other cities. In its original plans, the Senate Department’s target figure had been 70 per cent. This was always very ambitious and could only be achieved because Berlin’s Olympic stadium is so well connected by rapid transit. Thanks to the cooperation of the media, it was possible to inform visitors of this fact.

For instance, three weeks before the start of the World Cup, motorists already knew that the avenue between the Siegessäule and Brandenburger Tor, the Strasse des 17. Juni, would be closed to private cars; 14 days previously, this fact had been broadcast on all information panels. Equally importantly, nearly all road works were removed during the World Cup. With 3,000 approved sites per year, this was quite an achievement.

In addition to the normal traffic volume, the number of special police operations during the same period also increased rapidly. Whereas during normal periods seven special operations causing brief traffic hold-ups are to be expected, on the final World Cup day over 140 reports arrived at the VKRZ. The traffic concept is now being studied by Beijing, which will host the 2008 Olympic Games, and Shanghai, which is to host Expo 2010.

Mass appeal
During World Cup 2006, the largest public viewing area was the fan mile at Berlin’s Brandenburger Tor. Initially two huge screens were installed there, the number being increased after the first round. After the second round, an area also had to be cordoned off at the Grosser Stern (Great Star) roundabout. The city council responded flexibly and added more screens spread across 300-400m. The exits were placed on minor approach roads so that visitors did not disrupt traffic. When Germany played, more than one million visitors congregated on the fan mile and at other parallel events throughout the city.

Improved displays
To achieve optimum control of the traffic during the World Cup, a large number of traffic lights were reprogrammed to relieve the traffic burden in the city centre. It was imperative to collect traffic data as it arose, so the process of traffic detection (automatic traffic counting and status acquisition) was extended to selected major roads in the city centre. This has since been continued and the new data now assists the VLB and VMZ in assessing the traffic situation. New dynamic guidance panels (dWiSta display panels) were erected for optimum control of the traffic during the World Cup: three new panels on the A 10 expressway and five panels on the Berlin expressways (on the A 100 and A 115 near the interchange at the television tower, on the A 111 close to the Charlottenburg interchange). These guidance elements (large-area dynamic traffic management) financed by the German state will make it possible to control traffic flexibly along expressways in and around Berlin.

PUBLICATION: ITS International
DATED: 21st May 2007