The volumes of traffic approaching a traffic signal from different directions are continuously detected and SCOOT automatically adjusts the duration of the green displays to best match the requirements of the oncoming traffic. SCOOT detects and measures traffic volumes via inductive loops that are installed on all approaches to the signalized intersection. Vehicle detections are transmitted from the loop to the traffic signal control cabinet by a wire feeder. The feeder can be placed in a saw-cut slot in the roadway, overhead on existing poles (if they are available), or through existing duct. The City of Toronto prefers the overhead technique over the in-pavement technique because the feeder is less vulnerable to damage from construction activities and can often not be replaced during the winter months when saw cutting is not possible.
SCOOT provides substantial benefits in terms of reduced delays, journey times, fuel consumption and vehicle emissions. Because SCOOT allows traffic signal operations to be optimized in real time based on real traffic conditions, it is especially effective in areas where there can be major fluctuations in traffic volumes such as the city’s major arterials, especially those that are parallel to the City’s expressways.
SCOOT is currently installed on the following routes:
- Lake Shore Blvd from East Don Roadway to Windermere Ave
- Black Creek Dr from Lawrence Ave to Weston Rd
- The Queensway from The West Mall to Colborne Lodge
- Bayview Ave from Steeles Ave to Moore Ave
- Eglinton Ave E from Leslie St to Cedar Rd
- Don Mills Rd from Steeles Ave to Overlea Blvd
- Dundas St from Neilson Rd to Aukland Rd
- Steeles Ave from Yonge St to Kennedy Rd
- Yonge St from Steeles Ave to Mill St
- Avenue Rd from Highway 401 WB Offramp to Chaplin Cr
- Bloor St from Avenue Rd to Castlefrank Rd
- Downtown Core (Bay St, Church St, Charles St, Davenport Rd, Grosvenor St, Isabella St, Jarvis St, Sherbourne St and Wellesley St)
- Eglinton Ave W from Royal York Rd to Highway 27
- Lawrence Ave W from Bolingroke Rd to Shermount Ave
SCOOT was first installed (as a trial) in Metropolitan Toronto in 1992. The last corridor installation was about 12 years ago along Eglinton Ave W from Royal York Rd to Highway 27. New traffic control signals are brought onto the SCOOT system, if the new installation falls within an existing SCOOT corridor.
SCOOT is better suited for signals on main corridors with long cycle lengths (i.e. 100-120 seconds) than congested areas with much shorter signal cycle lengths (i.e. 70-80 seconds) such as in the downtown area. SCOOT is also more "car-centric" as it minimizes the delay to vehicular traffic by increasing the cycle length to allocate more green time to the main street. Therefore, SCOOT can pose a challenge to service the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders who are important factors in urban traffic management.
Installing SCOOT was also found to be more expensive when compared to other systems, as it requires a corridor installation (rather than a signal intersection) to achieve benefits and also requires the installation of detection equipment on each of the approaches to a signalized intersection.