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MTC partners with tech firm to ease traffic congestion

'If we work together, we can outsmart traffic,' spokeswoman says

The agency responsible for helping plan and finance the Bay Area's transportation systems is teaming up with a tech company that crowdsources real-time traffic information in order to ease congestion on the region's notoriously clogged roadways.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Waze last week announced the data-sharing partnership, which is intended in part to provide drivers with better real-time traffic and road-condition information.

"The more data we receive, the better our maps become and the better our maps become, the better our routes become," said Waze spokeswoman Meghan Kelleher. "If we work together, we can outsmart traffic."

Waze will share the information that is collected by its users via cellphone apps about traffic and road conditions. In return, MTC will share similar information from its Freeway Service Patrol, a fleet of 71 tow trucks that patrol the region's roadways during the morning and evening commutes looking for stranded vehicles that are blocking traffic.

"(Traffic) incidents will be cleared faster and more efficiently, and people will get rescued a little more quickly because the information will be coming from Waze," said MTC spokeswoman Brenda Kahn. "It's a two-way street for clearing roads."

MTC is not the first public agency to partner with the tech company, which bills itself as a "social navigation pioneer." Other Waze partners include Caltrans, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the City of Sacramento, Kelleher said.

The Waze app displays the fastest driving routes based on real-time traffic data that is collected by users who are out on the roads.

-- Kiley Russell, Bay City News Service

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