Transport agencies in the New Zealand city of Auckland have begun work on the city’s Route Optimisation programme, which is expected to save motorists millions in lost time and fuel costs.

Work involves route optimisation by coordinating a corridor of traffic signals to cut travel time, stop-starts and idling time.

This follows a series of trials conducted by consultancy firm GHD, which showed that the programme could save motorists $50m annually, as well as cut fuel consumption by 10% and travel time by over 13% without any new investment in roads.

The government also believes that reducing congestion through route optimisation will also improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, and promote public transport use through configuring signals to encourage alternative routes or to give pedestrians priority over cars.

The $10.5m project is being carried out by Auckland Regional Transport Authority, the Auckland Traffic Management Unit and GHD, and is expected to finish in five years.

Traffic congestion in the region is estimated to cost the economy more than $700m a year.