James L. Oberstar
Monday, December 16, 1996
When French President Charles de Gaulle first launched the TGV, the train a grande vitesse or very high speed train, his advisors all told him that it would be too expensive, the country couldn't afford it. President de Gaulle simply responded, "Does any other country have such a technology?"
As a student at the College of Europe many years ago I took the old train from Paris to Lyons, then a journey of four and one-half hours. In 1989, I took the same trip on the TGV. That trip took two hours and one minute. In 1988, the year before I took the trip, 500,000 people took the train to Lyons, and three million took the plane. Today, 500,000 go to Lyons by air, three and one-half million by train. This is intelligent traveling.
There are many definitions and many measures of intelligence, but one is the ability to invent, to innovate, to find new solutions, rather than slugging away at a problem with old ideas. If our current approach to solving congestion, pollution, and 40,000 highway deaths a year - pouring more concrete and more asphalt - sounds like slugging away at a problem rather than solving it, then it's time for an intelligent approach to the future of transportation: an Intelligent Transportation System.
We launched this approach in 1991, with ISTEA, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. While people fully understood what Congress was about in writing this Act, they didn't fully appreciate that it marked the end of the Interstate Era and the beginning of a new era of transportation in its broadest context. With the help of Intelligent Transportation Systems, or ITS, we can put more cars on existing concrete, but that's only the start for an intelligent approach to transportation. We can expand the use of existing roadways to make them more efficient, especially in places where there really isn't any more space to pour more concrete. I'm for building and improving roads, don't get me wrong, but I also understand there needs to be a balance as we approach the reauthorization of ISTEA. We need to approach this problem with the understanding that it is about transportation, not just highways. We used to call it the Highway Bill when it came to the House Floor. As long as we continue to think of transportation as moving people and goods rather than as highways per se, we will be in a good position to do good things for the future of this country.
Our schedule for the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for 1997 is beginning to take shape. The first bill that Chairman Bud Shuster and I will introduce will take the Highway and other transportation trust funds off budget. We got an overwhelming two-and-one-half-to-one margin vote on this bill in the House last year, but the Senate refused to take it up. I am sympathetic to the concerns about the impact such a move might have on social service programs - but taking the Trust Funds off budget is only fair. In 1956, when the Highway Trust Fund was accepted, the purpose was to create a dedicated revenue stream to see to completion the 42,000-mile Interstate program. It all worked well until about 1968 when Lyndon Johnson, at the peak of the Vietnam War, became concerned about inflation, and began to hold the money back from the Highway program in order to dampen the overheating economy. The Trust Fund money couldn't be spent on anything else, so it stayed inreserve, and grew and helped to conceal the deficit that the government was beginning to run in defense of Vietnam.
The Nixon Administration came in and found this little nest egg and liked it so much they kept more back, as did every President since. At one point, a $19 billion surplus had built up in the Highway Trust Fund.
We are going to move on this issue as quickly as the leadership will permit us to get that bill through Committee, to the Floor and a vote and, hopefully, put the pressure on the Senate to do the same. I can also tell you that Chairman Shuster and I are going to have a very cooperative relationship in our Committee in the coming Congress as we did in the past Congress. Bud Shuster and I have worked very closely together for 22 years and before even that, when I was the Administrator for the Public Works Committee Staff during his first term on the Committee. I've always said there's no such thing as a Democratic bridge or a Republican highway.
Any disagreements won't be between parties, but between varying views of the future of transportation. There's the urban view, the suburban view, the rural view, the freight view and the passenger view. There will be a procession of governors who want to have the authority returned to them, or have their hands freed by having fewer program categories. They want to have a greater decision-making authority. In my view, if they want to make those decisions then they can raise the money. They can spend all the State money they want on what they want, but if Congress is going to raise the taxes and take the heat, then we're going to have to have a say in how these National programs are run.
At the end of the ISTEA process, I think we'll find the Act essentially as it is now, with some modifications or adjustments within overall programs. I'm certainly going to be a strong advocate for retaining ITS, which has been funded to the tune of more than a billion dollars over the past five years.
But there is no guarantee that ITS or other non-highway programs will remain. Should ITS continue to enjoy a set-aside? Should it be considered an operational program that States may but don't have to spend money on? Is it a required category, or just another way of manipulating money for the State, competing for dollars with conventional highways? How are we going to get the State Departments of Transportation, mayors, county commissioners and communities to spend their highway dollars on this new, relatively untried, unfamiliar technology when they have potholes to fill, shoulders to expand, roadways to improve? It's going to take the ITS community and enlightened State DOT Directors to get involved in the ISTEA debate and not get steamrollered by the old ideas and the old ways. I hope that forums like this, and the one we had last summer at the Humphrey Institute in Minneapolis, will help generate the ideas that go not only to Congress but to the State Highway Departments and Legislatures. You're going to need all people working together.
The focus has to be on transportation; on moving people and goods in the most efficient, least expensive, most environmentally sound and safest manner possible. We are not just talking about getting more cars on a given stretch of concrete, but getting people and goods to their destinations in the most effective, efficient ways.
Yes, we can coordinate green wave traffic lights; use traffic lights to admit cars one-at-a-time to freeways; identify congestion and route traffic around it; and use smart cards to avoid long lines and pollution at toll booths.
But we also have to think about the inner cities. How do you move poor people from one part of the city to another part? People need transportation to hold jobs. If we are going to get people off welfare and into employment, then we have to tailor our transportation to individual needs rather than just build more lanes on Beltways or new "outer Beltways" that immediately become as congested as the Inner Beltway.
The commercial sector has an equal need and application for Intelligent Transportation Systems. The Commercial Vehicle Information Systems Network, or CVISN, will provide many benefits in term of safety (automatic truck weight and safety checks; HAZMAT spill responses); efficiency (paperwork reductions - the "paperless" truck where all documents are computerized; GPS tracking; fleet management) and business efficiency. By 2005 it's possible that transactions among carriers, shippers, government agencies and insurance companies will all be done electronically.
But, of course, there are barriers to the deployment of these ideas, not only to getting the ideas out for public acceptance, but also to getting them implemented. That means getting people at the State level to feel comfortable with ITS. State highway engineers are wonderful. They may not know how to build new technology with their transportation systems, so we need to expand the ideas coming out of research institutes and putting them in the hands of the highway engineers, planners, developers, builders, so that we integrate these new concepts into existing systems, and provide full-scale deployment in our transportation systems of the future.
Today, the State of Minnesota is, I think, very much advanced in all of these areas. They are using TV cameras to monitor freeway traffic so that commuters as well as highway traffic managers can see what the traffic looks like, and reroute traffic if needed. Minnesota is also creating in-vehicles maps. In the future, with Geographical Information Systems, drivers will be able to have a map readout in their own cars so they can see what's ahead before they get into a traffic jam. They can see where the accident is, and get around it, using the most efficient means to get from home to work or wherever they are going. We also need to make regular use of the fiber-optic cable systems and develop software and deploy it. In aviation, it's taken well over a decade to develop the new air traffic control technology that is being installed piece by piece. A lot of that aviation technology can be borrowed for surface transportation ITS.
Last Friday I had a meeting with a five-county group in the southern part of my Congressional District where we were trying to deal with a new phenomenon. This area is about 60 miles out of downtown Minneapolis/St. Paul. Many of those folks keep their jobs in the Twin Cities but move their families to the rural communities where the quality of living is better, the schools are good, and where they have a closer family association. They want to get to and from work in the most efficient way possible so that they can spend more time with Little League, with all the softball games, and at the hockey rink and weekend recreation. They hate the commute. They want car pools, van pools; they want transit systems; they want to make their movement to and from work as efficient and enjoyable as they possibly can.
The population movement of the 1990s is less city to suburb than between suburbs. The movement of commerce and business has been from suburb to suburb and now into ex-urbia. We have to follow up our transportation systems so that we respond to these new realities, as we go into the next century, so that ourtransportation systems reflect the needs and the interests of our mobile population, who want to live far out, and commute close in, in record time. The concept of designing the transportation system to meet the needs of the people and trying to stay ahead of these needs is what ISTEA is all about. This is why we created a role for Metropolitan Planning Organizations, which would involve more than the engineers, more than the governors, and reach out to the people whose lives and livelihoods are directly impacted by transportation.
A few years ago I traveled to Houston to talk about the future of infrastructure and learned there that the average speed on the Houston Beltway for four hours during morning rush and four more during evening rush is 17 miles per hour. The average is about 15 miles per hour on the Capital Beltway in Washington, D.C. There will be a time when all the cars on a freeway are just stuck. They are not going to move. Now, before that happens we who sit here today must think about the transportation needs of the future and realize that the folks who are wasting hundreds of dollars a year in traffic congestion, with its delays, frayed tempers and air pollution, are going to come back to us and say: "YOU FAILED!" "You didn't do your job. You didn't think adequately about the future. You responded only to the needs of the present."
That is what ISTEA is about. That is what Intelligent Vehicle Transportation Systems are all about. As business centers have cropped up in the suburbs, and housing spread to ex-urbia, and cars and trucks circulate between suburbs and between suburb and ex-urbia as well as in and out of our major cities, we have to develop transportation systems that continue to adapt to meet these needs. We have to be more like Charles de Gaulle and say not "How much does it cost?" but "Is it the best that we can do?" Can we look toward the horizon and say, "We are ahead of the curve, not behind it?"
That is what a symposium like this is all about; and those are the ideas that I hope will come out of this conference in the next few days.
I wish you well, and thank you for being here today.
Monday, December 16, 1996
December 16, 1996
Suggested Talking Points for Edward Thomas, Associate Administrator
Good morning, to those of you traveling from outside the Washington Metropolitan Area, welcome to our Nation's Capital, and to the many familiar faces I see, greetings.
I want to start by thanking Dennis Judycki, Associate Administrator for Traffic Management and ITS Applications, and Tom Ptak, Associate Administrator for Program Development, and their staffs at FHWA for organizing this symposium. Let me also thank my former colleagues in the FTA Office of Planning and my team in the FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation.
Having spent 50 percent of my career in transportation planning and the other 50 percent in research, development, and demonstration of innovations, the subject of this symposium is near and dear to me professionally.
More importantly, a stronger bond between transportation planning and operations is essential if we are to realize the anticipated benefits of ITS technology. Advanced information and communication systems provide the planning profession with opportunities to obtain models capable of analyzing short-range, multimodal, and intermodal improvements and public involvement techniques.
Fortunately, discoveries over the last twenty five years position planning to move responsively into the 21st century. Among these discoveries are: large, fast, yet inexpensive computers, geographic information systems, global positioning satellites, multimodal network models, household and activity-based demand models, and improved optimization algorithms.
Transit operators and managers are challenged with gaining a stronger understanding of their various markets, tailoring services and prices accordingly, and generally improving the quality of transit service by reducing travel time and improving safety and security.
Local and state system managers are constantly reminded of the need to maintain the highest level of service on our streets, freeways, and toll roads; to provide real-time information on the condition of the system so that travelers can plan their trips accordingly, and to offer incentives for more effective travel demand management.
Unless ITS becomes integrated into the systems planning process by demonstrating an ability to improve planning tools and to enhance system performance, ITS risks being confined to the sidelines of transportation decision-making.
As Secretary Peña called for in his announcement of Operation TimeSaver, the various ITS technologies must be integrated into a system-wide Intelligent Transportation Infrastructure (ITI). Only then can we realize the full benefits of the advanced technologies and have ITS evaluated as valid alternatives to transportation capacity improvements.
This symposium is a great step toward mainstreaming ITS. It is exciting to see such a wonderful mix of skills and organizations committed to bringing this effort about. Because only through such integration can ITS reach its potential.
ITS integration into the transportation mainstream faces many challenges, some technical and others institutional in nature. But, I'm confident in our ability to identify the critical issues and find the right solutions.
FTA Administrator Linton fully supports the Department's ITS and ITI Initiative and is encouraging efforts to mainstream proven systems and technologies.
The FTA Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation is committed to working closely with our Planning, Program Management, and Regional Offices and others to ensure that FTA's ITS program component is properly coordinated. In addition, we in FTA will continue to work closely with FHWA, FRA, and NHTSA to ensure development of an intermodal seamless transportation system.
In closing, FTA is an important player in the Department's ITS Initiative. We have already demonstrated that information and communication-based technologies can improve safety and security, increase the throughput of transit fleets, enhance the performance of transit equipment and infrastructure, and deliver more specialized and accessible services to low income, elderly, and other transit dependent populations.
To make our research, development, and innovation programs relevant, our reauthorization proposal is for a joint partnership initiative.
Monday, December 16, 1996
Agenda "mainstreaming" ITS
Point of departure: both "evolutionary" and "visionary" points of view are necessary: The vision provides a vector for the longer range, more aggressive 21st century transportation development. Elements of the vision need to be reflected in short-range policy such as ISTEA reauthorization
Short-term/"evolutionary" program: modify planning/programming process to implement ITI (within the Federal-aid program) evolutionary program: accepts short-run limitations of context
Within the near-term horizon (H1) context: potential NexTEA ITS elements focus on generating visible deployment
Bottom line: recognize limits of available Federal aid program points of leverage in the current political context of: deficit finance, devolution, anti-mandates, multiple competing priorities within Federal-Aid transportation program, etc.
Evolutionary view is necessary (and a real challenge given lack of financial incentives) - but not sufficient
A "visionary" component - a new paradigm for 21st century surface transportation - is necessary to set the direction of future change in the "TEAs" beyond NexTEA
This longer range horizon vision (H-3) is based on the presumption that there will be consumer demand for significant "progress" in transportation-related services in the 21st century - as there has been in other public service sectors - and that the general institutional configuration will trend towards the dominant private enterprise model.
The vision presumes future "transportation"
This vision implies a large number of new service components organized by information/communications into a consistent systems framework by a market-oriented combination of revenue-driven service providers - the essence of ITS
Principal challenges to be addressed are institutional/financial
Major institutional and financial innovation are required to support this reorganization of surface transportation sector
But needed changes may not be so radical as they seem
These factors in combination suggest that "progress" (if defined as identifiable customer-responsive transportation services) are inevitable. The question is when and how
The type of institutional and financial structure is exemplified in conventions of other public service/facilities systems (and, increasingly upper level highways systems overseas). These are increasingly price-based, competitive, privately managed "enterprises" and which transportation might approximate if it is to be an efficient, service-oriented, high-tech evolving sector
The key barriers to the visionary future are principally institutional and financial. Some key barriers marginally affected by limited F-A program leverage and "soft" Federal aid program incentives. Therefore as we develop an evolutionary policy/program agenda, we also need to incorporate elements that are oriented to laying the ground work, opening the door for significant institutional/financial change "Beyond NexTEA"
Therefore Agenda for "Beyond NexTEA" should introduce strong emphasis on evolving a suitable institutional/finance framework: "bring the future forward" with a focus on getting a best case ("models") rather than raising lowest common denominator ("institutional MDIs")
Transition steps can be initiated in NexTEA:
These concepts should be embodied in policy and program in both Federal and state levels. In particular, their inclusion in NexTEA will establish some important vectors that subsequent policy and program evolution can build on towards realization of the 21st Century Vision
Backcasting: A Vision from the Future
Realization of 21st century transportation improvements (ITS?) is likely to depend substantially to the capacity to evolve institutions that can capitalize on information, command, control and computation technology - just as the benefits of autobahn technology depended on the invention of the Interstate program, state DOTs and metropolitan planning. To envision the possibilities unlocked from today's discouraging inertia, let us "backcast" from the year 2050 in which metropolitan transportation by definition would have achieved the same measure of supply options and demand management as realized in other public service sectors like telecommunication and power. It is instructive to describe a possible path connecting such a future with the present as a future transport historian might recall it:
The "Post Interstate" Era didn't really begin until early in the 21st century when transportation agencies gradually evolved into systems operators and service providers. As far back as the 2025, progressive states had already begun to develop priced toll networks on the upper level highway systems together with consistent application of advanced traffic operations and demand management.
To supplement public agency resources some of these facilities were developed and operated as private franchises while others were publicly-operated. Gradually, however, the exacting demands of operating and financing evolving technology led to new forms of collaboration between public highway agencies and major private transport and technology companies.
Various competing "Transcorps" were formed as public/private commercial consortia - to operate consolidated networks on a multijurisdictional basis. For example, the California Transport Department joined with Microsoft, Motorola and PacTel to form "Western Transcorp" whose shares are traded on the stock market to raise capital for highway automation.
With their long-term competitively-bid franchises and financing improvements out of road prices, the transcorps embarked on an aggressive program of improvements and innovation in major corridors.
Non-intrusive traffic detection technology and the original equipment vehicle location tags on all vehicles provided the basis for this new level of management. The transcorps used the combination of real time traffic information and pricing to moderate peak demand and to allocate the available capacity on a demand-responsive basis. At the same time, the Transcorps were able to send routing time advisories directly to personal communication devices to aid in traveler decisions.
Starting in the 2020s, drivers began receiving discounts if they use pre-trip registration, which allows the transcorps to more closely predict future traffic volume and patterns and anticipate problems. As a result, system operators in high demand areas are able to take reservations and guarantee arrival trip times. It is not surprising that the business of "guaranteed arrival time" insurance grew up about that time.
Electronic billing services keep track of time, distance, and type of service through embedded smart cards. Customers receive their transport bills consolidated with their communications bills so they can make the appropriate personal tradeoffs. "Congestion" is now an obsolete term because we use variable pricing and capacity manipulation to offer consistent service - just as had long been the pattern in telecommunications and power - way back in the 20th century.
The improving technologies of communications, command and control, combined with application of prices tended to dissolve modal distinctions. "One-size-fits-all" transit vehicles disappeared as smaller vehicles operation in a demand-responsive regime. Receiving preferential treatment on priced roadways offered a range of efficiencies and price combinations tailored to trip patterns and densities. Transit fleets were also to see the first significant operation of non-carbon propulsion.
Safety and environmental values had made enormous inroads into vehicle technology. The "new generation vehicles" of the 2010s combining hybrid drivetrain power, cleaner fuels, energy storage, light weight and advanced catalysts had tripled efficiency and substantially reduced rate of CO2 and NOx production. At the same time on-board crash avoidance systems and guideway based "hands/feet off" operations led to "automated highway" intercity speeds limits of 150 miles per hour as well as advanced urban bus and truck platooning.
Traditional national and state transport agencies found themselves with important new roles providing policy and regulatory guidance to metropolitan transport operations commercialized via the transcorps. Two major challenges of the mid-21st century were integrating the local tax supported roads with the upper level priced network and developing the schedule of fees and incentives designed to incentive the gradual decrease of dependency on petroleum-based fuels and to encourage systems development with minimal ecological impacts.
Full-cost pricing was not achieved without considerable struggle and spread only gradually from the bellwether states as they were able to demonstrate the new forms of metropolitan transportation and land-use systems that offered predictable service and preserved their environmental resources. Even today in 2050, customers may grumble somewhat about the higher prices, but most believe the higher delay-free travel and improved environmental quality is well worth the price.
Infrastructure (infostructure?) Supply
ITS Reality is different
Facilities consolidated into "seamless" operated networks
Bundled services: not just "capacity" (ex: (routing/security/safety/yellow pages))
System performance as key objective
Revenue flow via commercialized user services (priced)
Investor ownership with capital/operations/financed from revenue stream)
Introduction of competition (deregulate existing monopoly)
Provision of premium/discount and specialized services options for consumer markets
Enterprise management structure (possibly privatized)
Public interest focus on policy and regulation - not production of service
Incorporation of external costs (full cost pricing?)
Capitalizing on new technology for value-added options and efficiency improvements
ENTERING WEDGES FOR 21st CENTURY SYSTEM
1.Raise expectations through system performance focus/mission.
2. Empower regional pricing programs on network basis.
3. Incentivize new "metropolitan operating authorities."
4. Create closer national industry cooperation with service and product providers/players (public and private).
5. Minimize public conduct/subsidy of potential enterprise-based activities to "make a market" and attract investment.
6. Incentivize state/local experimentation by bellwether states outside FA context (ex: premium services, new forms of public/private partnerships).
7. Stage to private management via managed competition, shadow prices, franchises with new "public interest rules."
8. Examine operational implications of contemporary logistics jointly with private freight/intermodal industry.
9. Consider ITS requirements on NAFTA/Intercontinental Highway System with Mexican/Canadian continuity.
10. Establish ITS Academy.
Monday, December 16, 1996
WHY ITS DEPLOYMENT IS HARD
SYSTEMIC NATURE OF ITS
THE BASIC ITS INSIGHT:
TRANSPORTATION AS A LINKED VEHICLE/INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEM
WHY ITS DEPLOYMENT IS HARD - II
Academia - New Transportation Professional
State, Local and Federal Government
Private Sector (Siemans Example)
WHY ITS DEPLOYMENT IS HARD - IV
ITS' ADVANTAGES DON'T MESH WITH POLITICAL REALITIES
HANDOUTS FROM PRESENTATION
Surface Transportation Policy Project Progress, Volume VI, Number 1, January - February 1996
From the Director's Chair
"Technologies and Sustainability - Not Necessarily a Contradiction"
by Hank Dittmar, Executive Director
"Transportation and Information Technologies for Sustainable Technologies"
by Dave Van Hattum, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
"Communicating for Better Transit"
by Janet S. Hathaway, Natural Resources Defense Council, Senior Attorney
"Technology applications for Rural America"
by Christopher Bender, Surface Transportation Policy Project Communications Coordinator
These articles are reprinted with permission from STPP's January/February Progress. Progress is available for free. For copies, call 202/466-2636.
From the Director's Chair:
"Technologies and Sustainability - Not Necessarily a Contradiction"
by Hank Dittmar, Executive Director
Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña announced a new technology initiative at the 75th annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board. Operation TimeSaver has the goal of equipping seventy-five metropolitan areas with a core Intelligent Transportation Infrastructure within the next decade.
DOT has chosen to apply available technology in communications and management to traffic, transit, and information problems suffered by commuters, instead of pursuing expensive science fiction scenarios to automate cars and roads a la Robert Heinlein's story The Roads Must Roll. Secretary Peña is to be commended for focusing on tools to help manage the current system, rather than costly and potentially destructive gimmickry.
Operation TimeSaver sets a measurable goal and commits to achieve that goal within a defined time frame. The announcement appropriately focused on the fact that investing in management and information technology to handle traffic and improve transit performance is more cost effective than adding new road capacity in metropolitan areas. Peña noted that equipping the Washington, D.C. region with the intelligent transportation infrastructure would cost $300 million; about the cost of eight miles of urban freeway or one freeway to freeway interchange. ITS technologies need to be viewed as a cost effective alternative to building new roads. These technologies may also have a longer term impact, offering the potential for dynamic management of the transportation system in real time.
A new study being undertaken by STPP, the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, and the Claremont Graduate School is exploring the potential of transportation technologies to contribute to a more sustainable future. Our project, Transportation Technologies for Sustainable Communities, is funded by the Minnesota DOT. The project proposes that ITS and communications technologies can help resolve the apparent conflict between the transportation system, its economic role, and its impact on society and the environment.
If transportation technologies are implemented in a way that embraces sustainability - defined as meeting today's needs in the areas of economy, social justice, and environment without sacrificing the ability of future generations to make the same choices - they can help us meet these goals and measure the impact of our transportation choices.
We can look forward to a future where we define desired levels of system performance in terms of accessibility and mobility; emissions and system condition; use technology to manage traffic and transit; and report on results to the taxpayer on a regular basis. Our study will use community focus groups as well as construct a scenario for sustainable technologies to build upon Operation TimeSaver's promise.
This issue of Progress examines the emerging ITS Infrastructure. The Humphrey Institute's Dave Van Hattum reports on our joint initiative, NRDC's Janet Hathaway looks at the potential for ITS to revolutionize transit performance, and STPP's Chris Bender suggests that ITS can improve safety and save money in rural areas as well as in the metropolitan areas emphasized in Operation TimeSaver.
"Transportation and Information Technologies for Sustainable Technologies"
by Dave Van Hattum, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
In 1974, when Americans were still reeling from dramatic hikes in gasoline prices, who would have thought that the number of miles driven in the US would roughly double within two decades?
It wasn't that hard to imagine - that's what happened over the two previous decades. However, a major difference is that those same drivers increasingly started to run up against all sorts of limits.
Metropolitan areas started seeing their highways clog up sooner than predicted, generating greater levels of air pollution, reducing productivity, and creating new demands for ways to control all the new traffic problems.
Communities face a number of challenges related to transportation-noise and emissions from congestion; encroachment on open and civic spaces by urban sprawl; and inequitable access to employment and goods and services by low-income, elderly, and handicapped residents.
Communities are experimenting with a variety of new policies to address these concerns. At the same time, the emergence of new technologies may offer completely new approaches for communities in the future.
Technological innovation is critical to designing transportation systems that simultaneously promote economic growth, social equity and environmental protection. Equally important is an appropriate fit between new technologies and the needs of local communities.
A collaborative study, Transportation Technologies for Sustainable Communities, is underway by the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, the Claremont Graduate School, and Surface Transportation Policy Project. The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the ITS Joint Programs Office of the U.S. DOT funded this unique partnership. The study hopes to link technology development of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and telecommunications with community defined priorities.
ITS refers to a wide range of information processing, communication control, and sensor technologies. ITS applications such as travel and transportation management, public transportation operations, and electronic payment are being developed through Federally funded operational tests across the nation.
ITS and telecommunication substitutes for travel offer the prospect of increasing the efficiency of the transportation system without further intruding upon neighborhoods, wildlife habitats, and open space.
Environmental organizations and others have raised concerns about the social and environmental impacts of lTS; and in particular the impact on transit use, social equity, and demand for travel. According to Tom Horan, Claremont Graduate School Institute for Applied Social and Policy Research Director, "this study can provide a policy architecture for deployment of ITS in communities seeking to maximize environmental gain."
In framing transportation's contribution to sustainability, we define sustainable communities as human scaled and spatially defined communities that:
a) consider the full social and environmental cost in the provision of resources and services;
b) respect ecological carrying capacity; and
c) balance the needs for greenspace, economic development, and access to resources.
Transportation Technology for Sustainable Communities has three major components:
1) a concept review defining key components of sustainable communities and transportation linkages;
2) focus groups and workshops with key transportation professionals, community stakeholders, and technology innovators; and 3) the development of sustainability indicators.
Research is taking place in Minnesota and nationally. The study is being integrated into Minnesota Guidestar's Polaris (Minnesota's ITS program) project whose objective is to develop a statewide ITS architecture. Architecture, as in "ITS architecture," refers to an overall system design that describes how ITS subsystems communicate with each other and are integrated to achieve overall strategic goals.
The next stage will be to engage community stakeholders, transportation planners, and policy makers in refining this framework and describing how emerging transportation/communication technologies could promote community sustainability. Using this framework, we hope to move from broad issues to guiding principles and indicators and, finally, to specific recommendations for the Minnesota Guidestar and Federal lTS programs.
The primary implication of the sustainability framework is that ITS should not be viewed strictly as a traffic management tool, but rather as an information source for overall system performance.
This perspective has important implications for developing a statewide architecture, achieving a balance of supply and demand side applications, initiating public-private partnerships, and devising public outreach strategies. For example, we recommend that emission management be investigated as a component of Minnesota's statewide ITS architecture. lTS traffic information services should be bundled with other information provided through the ever expanding telecommunication infrastructure. Finally, and most importantly, we are testing new public outreach techniques that address system-wide performance.
Planning for community input into the design of ITS and telecommunication systems to meet critical social, economic, and environmental goals provides an opportunity to operationalize transportation sustainability. The framework we are developing represents a starting point for ongoing communication between public and private sector ITS and telecommunications implementors; transportation, land use, and air quality plans; and community stakeholders.
If you would like a copy of the Humphrey Institute study, "ITS and the Environment: New Models for Federal, State and Local Cooperation," please contact Dave Van Hattum at 612.625.1017. Proceedings of a series of national conferences on ITS and the Environment and other related studies are available by calling Tom Horan at 909.621.8581.
Commuting for Better Transit
Janet S. Hathaway
Natural Resources Defense Council
Effective transit requires major economic and policy commitments, problematic in this era of scarce governmental resources. Today's information and communication technologies are cost-effective ways to enhance transit and shared-ride services.
Reliable transit is valuable. Travelers are most comfortable with transit which adheres to a predictable, known schedule, or when it is so frequent that a schedule is not needed to avoid long waits. Communication technologies can improve transit reliability.
A dynamic transit information service can provide accurate schedule information, updated to take into account traffic jams, construction delays, or weather related problems. Because it can be offered at a modest cost, most transit services offer only a printed schedule. It is more costly to provide passengers with up-to-date, "real-time" information about transit arrivals and departures, but that information is more valuable to riders. Travelers may access such information by telephone, personal computer, or interactive television, whether at home, work, or a public information kiosk. Travelers may reduce wait time by planning to arrive at the bus or train to coincide with arrival of the vehicle. The costs of such a service can be partially underwritten by subscriptions from business wishing to advertise through the service.
Traffic signalization giving transit priority can effectively increase travel speeds of buses and other roadway transit vehicles. Such systems can be operated manually by drivers. More sophisticated systems can operate automatically and vary the signal according to various traffic and roadway factors including the length of traffic queues, the levels of roadway congestion, and the need to make up time in order to meet the transit schedule.
Automatic vehicle location systems can help transit operate more efficiently and reliably. Management can rapidly identify vehicles falling behind schedule, and can assign additional vehicles to address routes with unusually high ridership.
An additional benefit of real-time vehicle location information is the ability to rapidly dispatch police, fire, or other emergency vehicles to assist the transit vehicle. Transit drivers in dangerous areas appreciate rapid response to silent alarms they can activate in the event of traffic accidents or threats to passenger safety.
Automated ride-matching services can facilitate the use of multiple passenger cars or vans. Ride-sharing is an alternative to single occupancy travel which has the potential to reduce environmental impacts while providing comfortable, affordable, and reliable transportation. Passengers may prefer ride-sharing to transit because it offers door-to-door service and a guaranteed seat. Ride-sharing networks allow both subscriptions for daily commute trips and requests for special or unique trips. Riders can read newspapers, make acquaintances, or just relax. The major impediment to ride-sharing is finding a "match" (and here, real-time information services become valuable.
A demand-responsive pick-up by a car or "jitney" is similar to ride-sharing in its passenger amenities but more like a taxi in guaranteeing pick-up upon demand. Jitneys, like ride-sharing, can be operated either privately or bya transit agency. Jitney services are likely to be cheaper to operate than conventional transit in low density areas, particularly during off-peak times. A jitney may increase transit use if it collects suburban travelers to deliver them to a rail station or major transit line. Jitneys may also be ideal for suburb-to-suburb travel, where ride-matches may be harder to make.
Technologies alone cannot solve our problems with air pollution, energy consumption, and resource depletion. But some technologies can serve us well in our quest to travel more efficiently, use less energy, and improve air quality.
This article has been excerpted from a paper, "Rides On Demand: Could This Be Transit?" For more information, please contact Janet Hathaway, Natural Resources Defense Council, 415.777.0220.
Technology Applications for Rural America
STTP Communications Coordinator
Transportation challenges vary significantly between rural and metropolitan areas. Congestion is probably the greatest challenge in our nation's cities, but in rural areas congestion is limited to a few specific spots or in conjunction with certain incidents.
Safety is the biggest challenge in rural areas. Rural roads account for 81 percent of public road mileage. Forty-one percent of vehicle miles traveled in the US are on rural roads, accounting for 61 percent of fatal accidents
The typical fix to rural safety challenges has been capacity expansion. In many states, the primary transportation plan consists of building four lane divided highways across rural America. This strategy does little to address the reasons for safety problems in rural areas. Most rural travel occurs in remote areas where the challenges of warning travelers about weather conditions, road conditions, or incidents are exacerbated. Nor does trying to build a solution with more or wider roads do much for assisting law enforcement and emergency services learn and react to incidents.
The application of technological measures to increase safety on rural roads could greatly effect the number of lives lost on our roadways.
Most of the attention focused on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) focuses on their application in urbanized areas to deal with congestion and traffic flow. However, we can utilize ITS in rural areas to meet the safety challenges of rural areas by providing information and communication services to travelers, law enforcement, and emergency services.
ITS offers an array of solutions that are more fiscally responsible, less destructive to the environment and communities, and likely to have greater positive impact with regards to safety than our current road-building credo.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is conducting a study to look at ITS rural applications with its Rural Advanced Traveler Information Systems (rural ATIS). Rural ATIS will provide an assessment of rural users' needs and develop a range of possible applications.
The study began with a national survey and focus groups to understand rural users needs. The study communicated with members of the general public, as well as police, EMS, highway, tourist, commercial operator, and travel organizations officials. Overwhelmingly, participants indicated that ITS applications should focus on information relating to problems that occur while traveling.
ITS can be used to develop mechanisms for notice of safe speeds due to weather conditions, incidents, road closures, geometric design, or congestion. Applications can be developed to lower the time necessary to contact EMS and for transport to medical facilities.
ITS can also be used to promote tourism and freight movement, and thus spur economic development. Rural areas can use technology to better manage their transportation needs and increase economic activity. All of this can be accomplished without increasing capacity or geometric designs.
Rural ATIS has developed a series of concepts in response to the identified needs of rural travelers from the focus groups and surveys. The concepts are categorized into three general areas: Emergency Response, Safety and Hazard Warning, and Traveler Services Information.
The Emergency Response concept includes initiatives for cellular, satellite, and CB radio mayday systems for emergency response.
The Safety and Hazard Warning concept includes warning systems for road conditions. An example is the Vehicle-Based Adaptive Safe Speed System which will present the driver with a recommended safe speed for given geometric conditions. The system uses information on vehicle weight, vehicle type, roadway geometry, and road surface conditions to recommend a safe speed. Static and dynamic roadway data will be combined with vehicle data in an on-board processor to compute the safe speed. The Roadside Safe Speed System will also use information on vehicle characteristics, roadway geometry, and road surface condition to recommend a safe speed. Static and dynamic roadway data will be combined with detected vehicle characteristics and roadside processors, and a safe speed will be presented to the driver on a roadside changeable traffic sign.
Traveler Services Information provides travelers with navigation, traffic, and tourist information using in-vehicle and roadside technology.
Based on an evaluation of these concepts and recommendations from an expert advisory panel, a number of these concepts will be selected for further analysis. The analysis will include discussions of institutional, legal, and technical issues, national implications of each concept, and identification of possible applications sites.
For more information, on the Rural ATIS program, please contact Dave Warren, FHWA, 703.285.2426.
Presentation John C. Cox, Jr. President, Southern California Economic Partnership Using Advanced Information, Management, and Marketing Techniques to Increase the Performance and Efficiency of the Surface Transportation System: Representing a Private Sector Point of View
Monday, December 16, 1996
21st Century Transportation Infrastructure Symposium
Linking Regional Planning & Operations for
Effective ITS Deployment
As a backdrop to my comments, it seems appropriate to remind everyone of the principles formed recently by ITS America Reauthorization Task Force. In many ways, they reflect some of the common themes we have heard across the country.
ITS AMERICA ISTEA REAUTHORIZATION PRINCIPLES
In order to put a fresh face on where we go from here, I believe it is very important to "to step out of the box" and look at the surface transportation system from a new perspective. Traditionally, transportation infrastructure has been considered "public service" public works projects. Over time, the surface transportation system has become somewhat more sophisticated through the use of strategic lane stripes, lane widening, ramp meters, or incident removal techniques to "channel" and "manage traffic flow."
With the availability of today's sophisticated vehicle traffic detection, data collection/distribution systems, and the computerized management systems, we are now in the business of "processing" vehicles through a much more constrained vehicle distribution system. The operations, maintenance, management, and marketing of such a system requires fresh ways of addressing this new "customer service" business.
The question becomes, what methods should be used to plan, operate, maintain, manage, and market such a system. If, as suggested, the system now provides a "customer service," then consumer marketing techniques must be considered to optimize service performance and consumer satisfaction. The following observations reflect some of the guiding principles and comments collected through private sector ITS discussions.
The PUBLIC SECTOR - Understands the public policy and process necessary to build public works capital improvement projects:
The PRIVATE SECTOR - Offers the skills and experience to operate, maintain, manage, and market a performance-based and efficient customer service delivery system:
TRAVELER INFORMATION MARKET (in addition to existing Print/Broadcast Media)
TRANSPORTATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM MARKET FORECAST
All of these intelligent transportation activities, including telecommunications applications, are having an impact on the transportation system. We don't know exactly how much. Market research in this area would give us better insights.
Some say "the technological revolution is in progress." The Intel computer on a chip technology has moved from a 0.06 MIPS system 25 years ago to a 300 MIPS 686 system today. The 1286 system is expected to operate at 100,000 MIPS in 15 years, another reminder that our transportation planning, implementation, and improvement programs must be extremely flexible to accommodate the rapid improvements in technology.
"DOES INFORMATION REDUCE TRANSPORTATION ENVIRONMENT EXTERNALITIES?"
POLICY ISSUES - "What are the policy implications of information-based transportation at both the Federal and State level? What specific issues (barriers, opportunities) need to be addressed before information technologies, systems, and enterprises can deliver maximum benefits? What policy instruments are most appropriate: legislation, regulation, financial incentives, model arrangements, etc.? What are the likely effects of the National Information Infrastructure (NII) and the new telecommunications law on the regional transportation planning process?"
Completing the deployment of the core ITS infrastructure continues to be a basic objective in order to deliver the underlying fundamental quality of life benefits of a sound, effective, and efficient transportation system.
A continued targeted Federal role in public/private partnerships to stimulate rapid development of industry standards, markets, essential R&D; funding components which are consistent with the adopted model architecture and standards; and facilitate national, regional and local public/private partnership collaborations is essential to insure interoperability and demonstrate the strong Federal leadership required to Champion and maintain the Vision of a "World Class" Transportation System and maximizes long-term predictability and stability.
Using the strengths and expertise of various segments of the public and private sectors and the operation, advanced information, management, and marketing techniques will increase the performance and efficiency of the surface transportation system.
Eliminate deployment barriers, modify Planning, Funding, Procurement, and Approval Processes, and use innovative, flexible procurement methods to produce greater flexibility and quick response to market changes.
Use Consumer Market Research to collect valuable information and analytical data to:
Support generic Industry Outreach and Education Marketing Programs that convey the quality of life benefits of a Smart "World Class" Transportation System and training programs to insure a supply of skilled labor.
Recognize "MARKET BASED" Private Sector marketing activity which has a transportation and air quality benefit but is not Required by Legislation, Regulation, Planned, Programmed as part of a SIP, or provided by the public sector. (A form of innovative financing).
The Federal-Aid surface transportation programs should produce opportunities to plant more seeds, stimulate, and leverage the market forces. These strategies are of paramount importance to the effectiveness of our future surface transportation system.
Today, roughly 98 percent of all US households have a television set in their home. Will 98 percent have access to real-time intermodal transportation information by 2005?
SPECIAL VOLPE CENTER RESEARCH SESSION
"Identify Research Needs
Associated with Information-Intensive Transportation"
DOT Round table:
Macro Trends & Research Developments
Answers by John C. Cox, Jr
1) QUALITY OF LIFE ISSUES
ANSWER:In the first place, nothing is free or perfect. More important, information in of itself does not make a market. Marketing communications certainly is a very important component for product/service awareness and influences use. Many factors influence choices or preferences. It would take a very expensive information campaign supported by extensive scientific research to influence significant quality of life issues. The anti-smoking campaign is a prime example.
ANSWER:Telecommunications is a sub-branch of Transportation and vice versa. Regardless of how they are positioned, telecommunications has become a significant transportation mode representing a 5 to 20 percent share of market.
3) INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
ANSWER:It means shifting the transportation information component responsibility to the private sector. They are much better trained and equipped to respond to the service demands of the customer.
4) PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT
ANSWER:No. From a public participation standpoint, not any more than the televised public meetings.
Yes. If true, consumer market research is used as the means of gathering consumer attitude, behavior, and purchase or use intents. Yes. From a consumer use standpoint, better information and communications provides the user the greater opportunity to [make] better travel decisions.
ANSWER:No. There is no better test of consumer acceptance than product or service use. If the product and services are available, the customers will be involved and will provide significant feedback. We need to be able to collect, track and analyze that data as accurately as possible.
ANSWER:Transportation professionals must understand and insure the technological deployment requirements of the transportation and telecommunications core infrastructure if they are going to provide the quality of life benefits of a safe, secure, mobile, information accessible, and economically sound community. They must become educated on the use of advanced technologies and modify their habits to recognize and use the major role the private sector plays in technology performance and effectiveness.
Planning Breakout Session Notes
Monday, December 16, 1996
December 16, 1996, Planning Breakout Session Notes
21st Century Transportation Infrastructure Symposium:
Linking Regional Planning and Operation for Effective ITS Deployment
The session was chaired by Gary Ritter, Volpe Center ITS Program Coordinator, who was assisted by Susan Grosser, Federal Transit Administration, in capturing major discussion points, and by Ken Tersero, the official session recorder. The breakout session addressed two general questions and two specific questions as indicated below. The summary notes provided herein were taken by the session Chair and have not been compared or reconciled with other accounts of the discussion, including the subsequent report to the plenary session regarding breakout session deliberations, and so may contain additional or conflicting information.
General Question A: Given the increased emphasis on operating and managing the existing surface transportation system more efficiently, as opposed to increasing systems capacity through major capital investments, what are the key factors (external and internal forces, barriers, opportunities) to be considered?
General Question B: With respect to transportation planning, programming, operations, and management for information-intensive transportation, what research gaps exist, and what kinds of studies, research, and operational tests are most promising (technical, institutional, financial, organizational/staffing)?
Planning Breakout Question 1: What changes in the planning and programming process are desirable to accommodate regional systems management, operations, and integrated information systems?
Planning Breakout Question 2: What is required in terms of activities, roles, relations, organization, staffing (public and private), etc., to deploy and manage/operate an information-intensive system which improves operation of the roadway and transit service?
A concerted ITS planning activity is needed. One in which goals, deployment objectives, and ITS Architecture decisions are cascaded in a coordinated, interwoven fashion from the Federal, to State and local governments. A starting point is to achieve more effective transfer of the National ITS Architecture findings and conclusions to State and local agencies so that they can take the next steps in adopting regionalized versions.
Information Systems Breakout Report
Thomas O. Mottl
Monday, December 16, 1996
December 16, 1996
Information Systems Breakout
Thomas O. Mottl, Session Leader
Participants in the Information Systems Breakout identified the following as key factors to be considered in operating and managing surface transportation systems more effectively and efficiently:
These factors reflect the increasing need for transportation operating agencies to deal with issues related to services, products, customers, and partnerships rather than narrowly "design and build" projects. Thinking in terms of systems and communicating proactively, both vertically and horizontally, were central themes throughout the Information Systems Breakout Session. Public policies to promote and facilitate related activities both between the public and private sectors and between public agencies at various levels were highlighted as especially important.
Lack of easily perceived "tangibility" in benefits obtained from information systems used in surface transportation operations is considered a key issue in building the political and public consensus necessary to gain budget "clout" necessary to deploy and support them. Feedback on "pothole repairs" near someone's business or house or in a heavily traveled roadway was contrasted with feedback on improved average intersection transit times (obtained through better traffic monitoring and signal light timing) as an example of this issue. Raising awareness and visibility of public benefits of ITS in general was cited as a critical issue for motivating and sustaining spending on information systems for transportation infrastructure development and related operations and maintenance.
The issue of what roles information systems might play in improving roadway and transit systems performance and the operations of various agencies were considered at two levels. In terms of top level system concepts, comments indicated that activities such as the National Information Infrastructure (NII) initiative seemed to have little relevance to transportation and ITS in particular. Further discussion indicated that this was partly due to the fact that there is (in the view of session participants) no clear picture or understanding of what the NII was, what it would do, or how it "connects" with ITS. The opinion was also expressed that there already is enough"complexity" in ITS concepts without becoming involved with the even more abstract NII ideas. It also seemed to participants that the NII was focused on "ultimate high-tech solutions."
On more immediate operational levels, such as operational traffic and traveler information systems, key questions, interests, and concerns centered on functional, operational, and policy issues, not technical. An example was the generally held view that policies of state DOT agencies typically avoid telling drivers what to do, but rather focus on making information available to the driver for individual decisions and choices. (This was contrasted with transit agency operations, where directing the traveler is accepted policy.) Under such policy restrictions, variable message sign investments could lose out to alternative capital needs, limiting ITS operational effectiveness. Discussion of other similar issues seemed to raise the question, "What is the 'business model' for state operated ITS systems?" Information systems carry the connotation of products, services, and customers. To design, build, and operate such systems successfully requires a clear and consistent notion of what business you are in, want to be in, or can be informed with. Is a classical business model which involves developing a product and selling it to a customer appropriate for and consistent with State-owned and -operated ITS under current policies and regulations?
Discussion of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) applications seemed to indicate that from an information systems standpoint, GIS technology is "lifeblood" for MPO operations and planning. This view seems to stem from the basic functionality of a GIS that is a multidimensional computerized data base with user-friendly geographic or other kinds of graphical map interfaces. These systems are reported to be very flexible, broadly applicable, and easy to use, and appeal to a lot of different interests and needs.
The final area in which information systems impacts were considered was education, training, and system performance assessments. The nature of the computer, telecommunications, and information appliances associated with ITS creates a natural environment for education and training. While the actual events of a transportation scenario are transient, with information technology these events can be captured and stored for reuse in a variety of ways related to education and training. Applications could include operator training and education, more general professional capacity building, or public relations. In addition, information captured by ITS information systems provides the means for measuring overall system performance. Absent such performance assessment capability, it would be very difficult to justify ITS investments and expenditures in competition with other conventional, more visible and easily understood transportation expenditures.
In terms of barriers and opportunities related to obtaining maximum benefits from information technologies, systems, and enterprises, elimination or changes to legislative and political barriers which restrict or preclude communication, collaboration, and partnerships was felt to be critical. State codes often create barriers in the design, procurement, and management of the high-tech systems required for ITS, including use of new types of professionals such as the "systems engineer." Identifying the real needs and functionality required of ITS, which is by nature cross-jurisdictional, is vital for cost effective design and the ultimate utility of such systems. Communication, cooperation, and collaboration among local government agencies is key in this regard, and a variety of barriers to these processes exists, both formal and informal. In this regard, a key need is to develop understanding of how to educate and "sell" key policy makers to remove these barriers.
A specific policy area of importance to successful deployment of ITS systems which was discussed briefly is that of telecommunications. Creation of linked transportation and telecommunication policies which recognize the close ties between these two areas was judged to be essential to realizing effective and efficient ITS operations.
Finally, on the question of what research gaps exist and what types of studies, research, and/or operational tests are most needed, three specific areas were discussed. First, the impact of information systems on travelers was an area of great interest and uncertainty, and viewed as appropriate to classical research methodologies. A more difficult and complex but related research issue is the overall affect on ITS performance of a reactive driver or traveler receiving continuous, real-time operational information.
In general it was felt that conventional "research" was not of primary importance to successful operations and management of surface transportation systems. However, research in the form of pilot studies was felt to be useful and was advocated by the group. In particular, it was felt that such research could result in better understanding of local jurisdictional issues based on determining "customer" wants and needs. In this context, GIS systems were promoted as key research tools for such studies because of their natural "fit" with the problems and their ability to graphically represent results in user-friendly formats meaningful to those at the local level.
On a related topic, it was the consensus of the group that consolidating results from all pilot studies and conducting ongoing assessments was especially important to developing meaningful, stable understanding of a wide range of ITS issues from technical to human factors to market acceptance. The difficulty of obtaining separate funding for such work after pilot studies are concluded led to the suggestion that such efforts be mandated by Federal agencies, and an incremental line item included in all ITS pilot programs to support them. Such funding would guarantee that comprehensive data bases were developed and timely assessment results available to guide future development and deployment decisions.
The Information Systems Breakout Session concluded with a spirited discussion on the importance to ITS deployments of vertical and horizontal communication, and the significance of the Internet in enabling such communication. The consensus of the group was that virtually all State DOT's and Federal transportation agencies have significant communications networking infrastructure in place today in the form of web sites and
e-mail. However, discussion indicated that while these networking tools provide a basis for building bridges between organizations and facilitating communication between people with varying responsibilities and interests, there is growing organizational concern over their misuse in the course of day-to-day business. As a result, firewalls are reportedly being built to control or limit e-mail capabilities. The consensus was that such action would lead to lost opportunity in terms of the investment required, restrictions on desirable networking and information exchange between individuals and organizations, and create organizational morale issues. However, it was remarked by several participants that not infrequently the response to such restrictions was for individuals to go around firewall barriers by subscribing on an individual basis to on-line services.
Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota DOT
Panel Discussion of State and Local Challenges
Tuesday, December 17, 1996
Stage 2 - Key Issue
- State ITS Chapter
- University Researchers
- CVO/Safety/Travel Information Services
Stage 3 - Key Issues
The Discontinuous Step
- Outcomes Focus
- Really Sharing Control
- Synergy Through Trust
(Put new wine in new wine skins)
OUR CURRENT STRUGGLE
(From Stage 2 to Stage 3)
- Right people
- Acceptance from the Established Organizations
Executive Director, Ventura County Transportation Commission
Panel Discussion of State and Local Challenges
Tuesday, December 17, 1996
NEVER, NEVER USE WORDS LIKE
ITS, ITI, SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE, PROTOCOLS, ETC.
ALWAYS USE WORDS LIKE:
NEW, BETTER, HIGH TECH, CUTTING EDGE - STIR IMAGINATION, MARKET CONCEPTS.
VCTC- 3 IMPLEMENTED PROJECTS
(2 MORE IN PLANNING)
MANUFACTURED BY PRIVATE SECTOR - COMPETITIVE BID - 0 LOCAL COST. BEING INSTALLED NOW - CHANGED 911 DISPATCHING 1 INFORMATION FOR CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY POLICE.
Traffic Services Manager, Washington DOT
Panel Discussion of State and Local Challenges
Tuesday, December 17, 1996
FEDERAL ROLE - STRONG LEADERSHIP
FEDERAL ROLE - STRONG LEADERSHIP
LINKING PLANNING & OPERATIONS
Monday, December 16, 1996
NOTE: Mr. Sigmund Silber attended the two day symposium. Mr. Silber provided the following comments to the Office of Traffic Management and ITS Applications, Federal Highway Administration after the symposium.
21st Century Transportation Infrastructure Comments
After sitting through a very stimulating two days, I wish to focus my comments in three areas:
DISCONNECT RE PLANNING FRAMEWORKS
U.S. DOT has spent a lot of time and effort developing certain planning frameworks. These include but are not limited to the Goals/Objectives/Strategies benefit analysis framework which is in the National Program Plan and a number of frameworks resulting from the National Architecture Project including the Market Packages framework and the cost analysis methodology which is close to being a tool that implementors can use.
Both during the plenary and breakout sessions, I found little if any awareness of any of these planning frameworks. If such frameworks were understood and accepted, we wouldn't be having conversations on how should we look at ITS and how the National Architecture relates to what is going on in each community.
There are a number of possibilities. One is that we have just not done enough to disseminate the information on these planning frameworks. A second possibility is that these planning frameworks are not useful or usable in that they do not mesh with either the way implementors think or the way they need to assemble information in order to get project approved. Either way, this is a problem that might usefully be addressed.
My suggestion would be to use a case study approach to work with one or two MPOs and perhaps State DOT's to see that they know about these frameworks and how they would feel about using them.
Frameworks provide a language for communication. If we are not all speaking the same language, there will always be difficulties in communicating.
PROBLEMS WITH THE ITS RUBRIC
Many at this two-day meeting made the valid point that ITS is not separate from the other things they are doing. Of course, systems built today will use information technology.
Rather than focusing on ITS being something that is very different from previous transportation solutions, it might be better to focus on the way that utilizing information technology provides new options to planners. A framework that I am experimenting with is as follows, and others might find it useful.
We can look at Information-Intensive Transportation (IITS) as allowing new types of integration/interconnections/interaction including:
There are many advantages to using a framework such as above. It helps to relate information technology to transportation activities. It recognizes the spatial relationships impacting transportation which information technology is particularly useful at addressing. It helps to define public and private roles. It helps to keep our thinking broad rather than focused on particular systems or institutions. It may provide an alternative way of looking at and tabulating benefits and possibly cost-to-benefit ratios. If this turns out to be the case, it might help in establishing deployment/investment priorities.
Perhaps most importantly, it indicates that we can not ignore the vehicle. ITS will have only a minor impact on transportation if we view it as simply the modernization of traffic control centers and other public sector systems.
I recommend that some effort be made to assess the value of looking at ITS in its more fundamental context of using information technology to facilitate integration/interconnection/interactively as a complement/supplement to both the user service and market package frameworks for purposes of benefit assessment and also for creating a longer-term vision for transportation in an information technology age. Developing this understanding of how transportation may be fundamentally changed by information technology may be very helpful to transportation planners and legislators.
NEED FOR NEW SCENARIO PLANNING TOOLS
Planners need to deal with uncertainty and this often leads to confusion and inaction. The future demands on the transportation system are subject to differences of opinion as is the relative effectiveness of ITS investment (compared to less information) in general and the various subsets (market packages, user services, etc.) of this technology.
Scenario planning provides a way of translating a myriad of possibilities into a smaller number of distinct scenarios each of which lends itself to analysis, i.e., how likely is each scenario and how should we respond to each scenario.
Factors to be considered in scenario planning for vehicle transportation might at a macro level include:
Certainly scenario planning applies to transit as well as private vehicle transportation and here one of the key variables would be the growth in transit usage.
Planners are also interested in ITS effectiveness at a less macro level and might wish to focus on the individual ITS technologies. Scenario planning can address any variables of interest to the planner.
The advantage to scenario planning is that it deals with concepts and discrete values for variables. For many purposes and audiences, this is easier to accept that the complicated and often incomprehensible formulae thatcome out of modeling exercises. In reality, we are talking about the same thing, but scenario planning moves a technical approach into the realm of planners.
One of the nice features of this type of planning is that it can be at a national level of for each State, Metropolitan area or Congressional District.
I have faxed separately two examples using this technique. One is vehicle transportation example, the other a transit example tied to an institutional issue, namely, welfare reform. Of course both are hypothetical examples and the variables utilized, the potential outcomes of these variables, and the way that the cells in the matrix have been grouped into scenarios may not be valid for the two particular geographies that I selected. But hopefully these hypothetical scenario matrices demonstrate the approach.
Often just developing this scenario matrix helps people make decisions by transforming a myriad of variables into a smaller number of meaningful scenarios - some of which stand out as being more likely than others and, through their definition, are suggestive of the required actions needed to respond. The process of developing scenario matrices and discussing the initial versions of the matrix in a group setting often leads to increased clarity of the situation as the matrix is refined. I have found this process to be very effective in concensus building.
The matrix is constructed in a way (i.e., mutually exclusive outcomes for each dimension) that probabilities can be assigned to the outcomes, hence to each of the cells in the matrix, and by aggregation of the various scenarios. Sometimes this is important. I have developed a very simple approach to doing this forecasting, but there are many other approaches which can be utilized.
Having a good approach for forecasting outcomes, and hence, which scenarios are most likely, also allows for ongoing monitoring of the situation. We may initially project that certain outcomes are more likely than others and therefore certain scenarios are more likely. But events often unfold differently than we had forecast. The approach that I use, even though it is relatively simple, allows for ongoing reassessment of the situation.
An additional advantage is that once having established and gained consensus for the criteria to be used in assigning probabilities to outcomes and hence scenarios, both the initial assessment and future reassessments can be conducted without the rancorous debates that often surround such activities when they are conducted on the basis of who is most convincing or powerful.
I would recommend that scenario planning methodologies, including possibly the one that I have described in this communication, be disseminated to state and local planners and perhaps some training sessions should be arranged to assist in gaining familiarity with these approaches.
Perhaps we should seek language in the ISTEA Reauthorization that tasks USDOT or ITS-A, or perhaps each MPO, to perform the above or related scenario planning. Such scenario planning would provide an opportunity for input from the entire transportation community and other stakeholders.
Prepared by Sigmund Silber
HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO PLANNING MATRIX
Philadelphia Metropolitan Area - Year 2010
ITS Effectiveness Relative to New Construction Alternatives
1:00 or less
1.25 to 1
1.5 to 1
2 to 1
2% or Less
S1 = No Major Problem, Conventional Approaches Will Meet Demand
S2 = Cost of Meeting Demand Will Be less Than Currently Planned
S3 = Demand Will be Met at Current Expenditure Levels if ITS is Widely Deployed
S4 = Some Degradation in Mobility or Major Increase in Infrastructure Investment
S5 = Major Degradation in Mobility or Tremendous Increase in Infrastructure Investment
This matrix shows three possible outcomes for VMT growth and four possible outcomes for ITS relative effectiveness. This leads to twelve pairs of outcomes. The scenarios group pairs of outcomes which will have a similar impact on communities, thus simplifying the planning process to consideration of five different scenarios. It is possible to forecast the likelihood of each outcome pair and by aggregation, the likelihood of the associated scenario.
Prepared by Sigmund Silber
HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO PLANNING MATRIX
Impact of Welfare Reform
Boston Metropolitan Area - Year 2005
Changes to Public Transit System
Number of Persons to be Incorporated into Workforce
Flexible Routes and
25,000 or Less
25,001 to 50,000
S1 = No Major Transportation Problems
S2 = Difficulties Associated With Coverage but not Capacity
S3 = Difficulties Associated With Capacity but not Coverage
S4 = Both Coverage and Capacity Difficulties
This matrix shows three possible mutually exclusive outcomes for desired/required employment growth of persons formerly on welfare and four possible mutually exclusive outcomes for transit system improvement. This leads to twelve pairs of outcomes. The scenarios group pairs of outcomes which will have a similar impact on welfare reform, thus simplifying the planning process to consideration of four different scenarios. It is possible to forecast the likelihood of each outcome pair and by aggregation, the likelihood of the four scenarios.
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