At the beginning of March, Werner Balz, Division Manager for Traffic Control & Management in the Stuttgart office of PTV Transport Consult GmbH, will retire after 25 years at PTV. Starting on 1 April, his successor will be Dr.-Ing. Hagen Schüller, who is currently still a project manager in this division and can also look back across a long history at PTV.
The first few years
The establishment of the PTV office in Stuttgart 25 years ago, in which Werner Balz also participated, was also the starting shot for PTV’s entry into the planning of traffic control and guidance systems on motorways. “Our Stuttgart team has made a significant contribution to ensuring that road users in jam- and accident-prone areas of Germany’s motorways and in Austria can be directed safely and well-informed thanks to situation-dependent variable message and information boards,” says Balz. Even today, traffic control technology is still a focal point of PTV Transport Consult’s planning and consulting services; naturally other fields have been added, such as the equipment and operation of traffic control centres, risk and hazardous material analyses for road tunnels, and safety management of the road infrastructure with road safety concepts for cities, and many more.
For Balz, there have been some milestones during his time at PTV, which he remembers fondly: “For example, in 1993 we had our first foreign project, a traffic control and information system for the motorway ring around Budapest (MARABU). Three years later, our first EU research project: Traffic optimisation by the integration of information and control (TROPIC). Over the years, projects from the multi-modal traffic management sector were added. For us here in Stuttgart, naturally this was a bonbon: the planning of a series of traffic control and information systems in preparation for the FIFA Football World Championship in Germany, dynamic guiding boards in Stuttgart, and the addition of dynamic and static sign posting with destinations for the 2006 Football World Championship in the Frankfurt am Main area; these were in 2004 and 2005,” according to Balz.
Road safety becomes ever more important
In October 2010, Hagen Schüller started his position as project manager in Stuttgart, where he established the “Safety management of the road infrastructure” field. “Important projects for road safety management are, for example, the guidelines for the Road Safety Impact Assessment in the course of the project Infrastructure Safety Instruments (ISSI) of the Swiss Federal Roads Ministry (ASTRA) or currently the support of the provincial capital Munich in the development of a regional traffic safety concept,” explains Schüller. Previously, he spent six years as Assistant to the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences at the TU Dresden, where he received his Ph.D. after writing a dissertation on the topic of speeds and accidents on city roads. “The availability of digital accident data thanks to the use of PTV Vistad made such studies much easier. I had a lot of contact with PTV early on“, according to Schüller. This began even during his studies in Weimar with Professor Ulrich Brannolte, who has had close ties to PTV for decades. Schüller served an internship with the Stuttgart team of PTV Transport Consult. “Thus, things practically came full-circle when I took up my work here seven years ago,” says Schüller.
For his future task as new manager of the division, he would like to further reinforce the topic of road safety and link it as a cross-sectional aspect to other topics at PTV Transport Consult. “I would also like to sensitize various external actors about this issue,” says Schüller. At the same time, we should increasingly focus on current topics such as cooperative systems in and outside of tunnels and the planning of video monitoring in various fields of application.
“I can look back with satisfaction across my professional career and go into retirement assured that I have put the division for which I was responsible for so many years into good hands with Hagen Schüller,” says Balz, and he continues. “I wish PTV great continued success and take my leave of all people at PTV with best wishes for the future.”