What are the ‘EST. TIME TO EXIT’ figures displayed on electronic message signs on the F3 Freeway?
The travel time system calculates estimates of how long it should take road users to reach certain freeway exits, based on the current traffic flow. For example, the image below shows the estimated time to travel from the message sign to Berowra is five minutes and to Wahroonga is 14 minutes.
The estimated times are updated every three minutes to reflect the current traffic conditions and provide the most accurate travel times. During peak hours, or when there is an accident or other incident on the freeway, the message signs are likely to display longer estimated times than during off-peak hours.
How can the F3 travel time system be useful to me?
The main benefit to F3 Freeway users is being able to see the estimated length of time it will take to get to and from certain locations.
Travel times are updated every three minutes to reflect the current travel conditions and provide the most accurate estimates. If you are traveling on the F3 Freeway, you will see estimated travel times displayed on fixed electronic message signs and be able to monitor the traffic flow along your journey.
Travel time estimates will also be updated and displayed on the Live Traffic NSW website. If you are planning to travel on the F3, you can visit the website to check travel time estimates being displayed on the electronic message - go to Live conditions on the right side of the page and tick the box for F3 Travel Times.
If travel times begin to increase, the travel time messages may be the first indicator of heavier traffic or an incident causing delays on the road ahead. You can use this information to choose the best way to get to where you’re going.
Why the F3 Freeway?
The F3 Freeway is one of the busiest roads in NSW, used by more than 75,000 vehicles every day and up to 5500 vehicles an hour during peak travel hours.
When there is a crash or an incident on the F3 that causes closures, traffic can quickly back up and cause significant delays. The travel time system will reflect these delays, giving road users warning of slow traffic ahead. Based on this information, road users can choose to remain on the F3 Freeway or exit to another route.
Will the travel time system be used on any other roads?
Travel time information is available on the Westlink M7 Motorway. Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) may trial or implement a travel time system on other main roads.
How are the travel times estimated?
The system works by detecting vehicles at various points along the road and calculating the time taken to get from one point to the next. Multiple vehicles are detected and the average time to travel between points provides the estimated travel time.
The F3 travel time system only recognises vehicles with RMS E-Toll tags. There are a number of fixed electronic tag readers placed along the F3 Freeway, in each direction, which detect RMS E-Toll tags as they pass.
The travel time system is continuously collecting the travel data from the tags and estimating point-to-point travel times, which are then displayed on the electronic message signs.
How accurate are the travel times?
It’s important to remember the travel times displayed are estimates only. Times are based on the travel data for the previous three minutes and reflect the average travel time of all vehicles detected. Travel times are continuously collected and calculated to provide the most accurate and current estimates.
Your actual travel time will depend on your speed, if you stop along the way and any changes to traffic conditions that occur during your journey.
During the system’s operating times, seven days a week between 4am and 10pm, RMS tag readers continually detect enough vehicles to determine travel time estimates.
Where will the travel time system be used?
The travel time system will be piloted on the F3 Freeway between Wahroonga and Beresfield.
How often are the times updated?
Estimated travel times are refreshed and displayed on the F3 Freeway electronic message signs every three minutes.
When will travel times be displayed?
The F3 travel time system will operate seven days a week between 4am and 10pm. These operating hours include the peak travel times when the F3 Freeway has the highest volumes of traffic. Up to 5500 vehicles travel on the F3 each hour during the morning and afternoon peak periods, when many commuters travel between Sydney and the Central Coast. It is expected these regular commuters will benefit the most from travel time estimates.
Are there times when travel time estimates will not be displayed?
Yes, there are times when travel time estimates will be replaced with other messaging.
During the pilot, the travel time system will not operate between 10pm and 4am.
If there is a major incident on the F3 Freeway which causes a significant impact on traffic flow, road conditions or safety, the electronic message signs will be used to communicate specific information about the incident or traffic conditions, rather than travel time estimates.
Does the system read all electronic toll tags?
No, the tag readers have been configured to detect RMS E-Toll tags only.
Will I hear a ‘beep’ when I pass a tag reader, like when I go through a toll point?
No, you will not hear a beep when passing the tag readers on the F3 Freeway.
Will I be charged any fee when the tag readers detect my E-toll tag?
No, the F3 travel time system detects your RMS E-Toll tags only to calculate travel times, not to collect tolls or any other fees.
Can the system find my location or track my movement?
No, the travel time system recognises tags as numbers only and does not read or collect any personal information. The system cannot identify, locate or track individual road users or vehicles.
Can the tag readers be used to monitor speeding?
No, the system is not able to measure road users’ speed beyond calculating the length of time taken to travel between two tag readers.
The tag readers recognise RMS E-Toll tags only. The readers are not cameras and cannot measure or store your actual speed at any one point.
What does it mean when the electronic message signs are blank?
The F3 travel time system operates on a centralised management system, which supports various traffic management devices including electronic message signs, variable speed signs, tidal flows and environmental monitoring technologies across the NSW road network.
Routine maintenance is undertaken on the central system a few times a month to make sure it continues to function properly and efficiently. This maintenance is usually done overnight or when traffic volumes are low to ensure the system is ready for the peak travel periods.
When this maintenance is being undertaken, the electronic message signs may be blank and F3 travel time estimates may not be available.
The signs may also appear blank if there has been a power or equipment failure or they have been damaged for example by a lightning strike. Depending on the type of failure, electronic message signs are usually repaired within 24 hours.