Preston Urban Traffic Management and Control (UTMC) System. Preston. UK

By News Editor / Updated: 29 Aug 2014

Lancashire County Council installed UTMC in the City of Preston to link traffic signals, parking availability and air quality information to better manage traffic in order to achieve its policy objectives - particularly safety and accessibility. The experience has been a positive one for the Council and anecdotal evidence suggests that UTMC in Preston is achieving its objectives

Background and objectives

Preston is a city of around 100,000 people in northwest England. It has suffered economic decline due to its former reliance on the textile industry and, as a smaller regional shopping centre, it attaches a high priority to maintaining the economy in its city centre. The specific objectives of the use of UTMC in Preston were to help to:
  • Allow people in the area to plan their journeys in advance and be able to predict with confidence when they will arrive at their destination;
  • Make available a high quality and easy to understand public transport option (so as to help modal shift);;
  • Make Preston city centre a safe, attractive and accessible place, to maintain its local economy; and
  • (Operationally) to ensure that ITS is largely self-enforcing..


The UTMC was introduced between 2001 and 2003 to integrate and improve existing traffic management and control functions in the City.>Its capital costs were funded directly by central government; a bid was also made to central government to fund the ongoing running costs. Amongst other things, the UTMC provides linked and integrated functions including (or planned):
  • Traffic Management - UTC Review, Bus priority, Incident detection
  • Variable Message Signs - Car parks, Park and Ride,
  • Strategic System Integration - System architecture, UTMC migration, Mobility Information Centre
  • Access controls
  • Smart cards
  • PT timetable information
  • Real time travel information


At this stage it is too early to tell whether the system has achieved any of its wider objectives, although anecdotal evidence suggests a reduction in circulating traffic on the inner ring road, and a positive benefit to cost ratio due to reductions in communications costs as existing systems (e.g. traffic signal control) were migrated to UTMC.


Preston UTMC shows the benefits of integrating the control and management of traffic information and management systems. The biggest barriers to its successful introduction are institutional, not technical.

Further information

See Preston05UTMC lessons learnt.pdf
Collective passenger transport
Traffic and demand management
United Kingdom
Tom Rye
30 Aug 2010
29 Aug 2014