Director, Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office
U.S. Department of Transportation
Committee on Environment and Public Works
Subcommittee on Transportation, Infrastructure, and Nuclear Safety
United States Senate
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss some of the challenges that face our Nation’s transportation system and the role of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in meeting these challenges.
As Secretary Mineta has said, transportation is key to our Nation’s well-being, whether measured as economic growth, as international competitiveness, or as quality of life. On the whole, our system of highways and bridges works well in maintaining the strong economic performance of the country, and a recent Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) survey of surface transportation customers shows increasing levels of satisfaction with the physical condition of our infrastructure. However, the same survey shows traffic congestion and highway safety are growing concerns for the traveling public. The survey also reveals that the public is reluctant to turn to capacity expansion as a first alternative to alleviate congestion because of the costs in taxes, environmental impacts, and space. Survey respondents favored solutions that minimize delays associated with roadwork and make our existing system function better--operational solutions, many of which are underpinned by ITS infrastructure. Through application of modern information technology and communications, ITS can improve the quality, safety, and effective capacity of our existing infrastructure. While good operation does not replace construction, it can certainly enhance it.
With the passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), Congress reaffirmed the role of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) in development and integrated deployment of ITS technologies. Authorization of $1.3 billion through Fiscal Year 2003 has made possible significant advances in the ITS program, and I would like to highlight some of the accomplishments.
The ITS Program under TEA-21 has four primary features: (1) research and development funding providing for significant research; (2) incentive grants to States and cities to foster integrated ITS deployment; (3) a requirement that all ITS projects carried out using Federal-aid highway trust funds use nationally established ITS standards and be consistent with a national architecture; and finally, (4) in an attempt to “mainstream” ITS into regular transportation investments, TEA-21 makes clear that many categories of Federal-aid highway funds can be used for the purchase and operation of ITS technology. In my testimony today, I would like to provide a status report on each of these areas.
ITS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Let me begin by discussing our research and development efforts. TEA-21 authorized a total of $603 million in ITS research and development funds for fiscal years 1998-2003. For fiscal years 1998-2001, after specific statutory reductions, $342 million have been made available in approximately the following proportions:
§ 60% for research and field tests;
§ 14% for development of standards and maintenance of the National Architecture;
§ 9% for training and technical assistance to States, local governments, and transit properties;
§ 7% for evaluation; and
§ 10% to provide technical support for the administration of the program.
These resources have been used to advance the state-of-the-art in ITS through research and development, demonstrate new technologies through operational tests, promote integration through the National ITS Architecture and ITS Standards, and foster deployment by providing technical assistance and training to State and local governments.
ITS research and development is a very complex program that is roughly equivalent in size to FHWA’s Surface Transportation Research Program. I would like to highlight some of the major initiatives that are underway in the ITS research and development program as a result of TEA-21.
Intelligent Vehicle Initiative (IVI).
The IVI is focused on reducing motor vehicle crashes by enhancing driver performance through technology while, at the same time, mitigating the distracting impacts that the introduction of vehicle-based technology can have on the driver. This is a multi-modal effort within the Department, carried out by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on transit buses, by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which has the lead and works with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on trucks and motor coaches, and in FHWA on specialty vehicles like snow plows. The majority of the program, however, is focused on passenger vehicles and is carried out primarily by NHTSA. Our research indicates that, when fully deployed, approximately 1.1 million or about 17% of all passenger vehicle crashes could be prevented using three of the simpler warning systems–rear-end collision, road departure, and lane collision warning systems. This would represent a savings of about $20 billion in annual economic costs due to automobile crashes. In order to seek a full range of views on IVI program priorities and directions from major stakeholders and the scientific community, we have asked a panel of experts from the National Academy of Sciences to provide periodic guidance and assessment of the work underway.
Early IVI research has already contributed to the emergence of a number of vehicle-based safety systems that are available in the U.S. market today, including rear-end collision and rollover warning for heavy trucks, night vision systems for passenger cars, and adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning for both cars and heavy trucks. However, recognizing that these technologies, in combination with other in-vehicle devices, can have a distracting influence on the driver, decreasing safety rather than improving it, we are also conducting research on driver distraction, independently and in cooperation with automobile manufacturers and others. In addition, we are advancing concepts which enhance communication between the vehicle and roadway infrastructure to address problem areas such as intersection and run-off-the-road crashes.
Metropolitan and Rural Operational Test Program. Under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), the ITS program funded over 80 operational tests that demonstrated the effectiveness of numerous advanced traffic management technologies that have become a part of the deployment program. Through focusing resources on a priority set of field operational tests under TEA-21, we are greatly widening the original vision of ITS. For example, we are working closely with:
§ the Department of the Interior, to examine the potential of ITS for reducing congestion in National Parks;
§ police, fire and emergency medical service (EMS) communities, to implement use of ITS for quicker identification of crashes and improved coordination of the emergency response;
§ the National Weather Service, to obtain better surface weather information for winter maintenance and to better inform travelers during major weather evacuations;
§ highway agencies interested in applying variable speed limits within work zones as a way to increase the safety and reduce overall delays in construction areas; and
§ local communities, to examine ways ITS can be used to improve the safety of pedestrians.
Commercial Vehicle Operations. The goal of this program is to improve the safety and productivity of commercial vehicle operations by using electronic clearance of trucks through weigh stations, using e-government technology to streamline the credentialing process and, most importantly, by making carrier safety information available to inspectors at the roadside. The program also has great potential for streamlining border crossings. Work is underway in more than 40 States to plan, design, and implement these technologies. Complete systems are in place in four States, with three more States scheduled for completion by the end of this year.
Support for Deployment. Deploying ITS at the State and local levels requires a change in transportation culture and the development of new skills among the staff. It requires a shift in thinking, from primarily construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure, to active management of the transportation system to assure smooth operation and maximum safety. It requires a broadening of the traditional civil engineering skill base to include systems engineering, computer science, and electrical engineering. To meet these challenges, we have implemented an aggressive training and workshop program for Federal, State, and local transit, public safety, and highway officials. Topics being addressed range from architecture and systems engineering, to communications design and software procurement. We currently offer over 25 training courses in various aspects of ITS planning, development, deployment, and operations. Our course on the National ITS Architecture has been provided to over 2,600 Federal, State, and local officials and consultants. In addition, we have also provided extensive technical assistance to States and local governments through our field and headquarters staff, and through a peer-to-peer technical assistance program. One of the most effective programs involves ITS scanning tours for local officials which allow them to see ITS deployments and talk directly to other officials on why the decision was made to deploy ITS.
Intelligent Railroad Systems. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the FTA are working together on the development of Intelligent Railroad Systems, a subset of ITS. Intelligent Railroad Systems will incorporate new sensor, computer, and digital communications technologies into train control, braking systems, grade crossings, and defect detection, and into planning and scheduling systems as well, and will apply to freight, intercity passenger, and commuter railroads. Work has begun on the development of the architecture for Intelligent Railroad Systems.
ITS DEPLOYMENT INCENTIVES PROGRAM.
The second major provision for ITS in TEA-21 is the Deployment Incentives Program. TEA-21 provided $679 million in Deployment Incentives funds. These funds serve as a bridge between the research program and, ultimately, the mainstreaming of ITS. A particular focus was integrating legacy, or pre-existing, systems. The belief was that, while the States could purchase hardware with non-ITS Federal-aid highway funds, a Federal incentive was needed to encourage them to go the “extra mile” in making systems talk to one another. An additional objective of the program is to advance the deployment of the Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Network (CVISN). In fact, Congress set a goal to have a majority of the States deploy CVISN by September 30, 2003.
The ITS Deployment Incentives Program has been fully earmarked by the Appropriations Committees each year since 1998. These earmarks have directed the funds to specific State and local jurisdictions, but have also specifically required that the funds be used in accordance with the provisions contained in TEA-21. As the attached Chart reveals, the number of projects relative to available dollars has been steadily increasing. While the Department believes that the program would be most effective if the funds were competitively awarded, we have worked closely with the recipients to ensure that the funds are being used to advance the goals of TEA-21. However, because of the earmarking, it is doubtful that we will meet the congressional goal of CVISN in a majority of the States by the end of 2003.
A mid-term assessment of the Deployment Incentives Program conducted by the Department in 2000 showed that this program was fostering deployment and integration across almost all of the key elements of ITS infrastructure.
NATIONAL ITS ARCHITECTURE AND STANDARDS
The third focus of the ITS program in TEA-21 is on the National ITS Architecture and Standards. TEA-21 included a provision that all ITS projects funded out of the Highway Trust Fund had to conform with the National Architecture. The goal was to foster integration and interoperability.
We have worked closely with our State and local partners to develop an approach for implementing this requirement that would give States and metropolitan areas freedom to develop their own architectures, that fit their unique needs, but with key elements compatible with the National Architecture. By taking this approach--that “one size does not fit all”-- we have received broad support from the transportation community on the National Architecture requirement.
We are now in the process of rolling out an aggressive program of training, workshops, and direct technical assistance to highway, transit, and public safety agencies to help them develop architectures. In addition, there are comprehensive workshops for States to develop their own CVISN architecture based on the National Architecture and Standards. To date, approximately 100 State, regional, or project architectures are underway and 34 States have completed CVISN architecture. Thirteen regions have completed architectures.
TEA-21 calls on the Department to develop and implement standards on a very aggressive schedule. It then requires recipients of funds to use these standards when purchasing ITS technology.
We have partnered with industry standards-setting groups for development of more than 80 standards. The Secretary of Transportation has identified eighteen ITS standards to be critical to national interoperability. To date, nearly 55 standards have been completed and all but two of the standards that are critical for national interoperability have been completed. Work is also progressing on the development of ITS standards at highway-rail intersections.
We are now shifting our attention to the implementation of these standards. Working with State and local governments we are testing the standards, using the ITS Deployment Incentives program to provide early field demonstrations of the standards, and working through our field staff to provide training and technical assistance in the procurement and use of the standards. We believe this is a critical step before we officially adopt these standards, in order to insure that they are robust and well accepted by users.
The last ITS element in TEA-21 that I would like to address is “mainstreaming” and, in doing so, answer a few questions that I know surround the program. Why isn’t ITS deployment more visible? Is it working? Why don’t we see more of it? And, can’t we do better than overhead message signs that say “Congestion Ahead?”
TEA-21 clarified that non-ITS Federal-aid highway funding sources (National Highway System (NHS), Surface Transportation Program (STP), Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program (CMAQ)) could be used to purchase and operate ITS infrastructure. And, as we look across the United States, we see many encouraging signs that ITS Deployment is happening: More than 40 States are planning, designing, or deploying a part of CVISN; 55 of our 75 largest metropolitan areas have begun significant deployment of ITS; nearly 70% of all toll facilities use electronic toll collection; more than 50 traffic control centers are in operation and many more are planned; more than 31% of fixed-route buses in our larger metropolitan areas are equipped with automatic vehicle location technologies; and more than one million vehicles are equipped with automatic crash notification. More than 700 traveler information websites have been created (over 500 exclusively transit sites, nearly 200 exclusively traffic sites, and several multimodal sites); and now, with the allocation of the 511 telephone number, traveler information will soon be a telephone call away. The first 511 call took place in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky metropolitan area in June of this year, and work is underway to implement 511 in Virginia, Arizona, California, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Utah.
These deployments are making a difference in reducing crashes, managing congestion, and improving the quality of life in communities. For example:
§ A study in Virginia illustrated that if ITS had NOT been deployed on I-66, congestion would have been 25% worse!
§ The Ramp Metering Test in Minneapolis demonstrated that ramp metering improved freeway travel time 22%, reduced crashes 24%, and improved freeway throughput 14%.
§ Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) reduced paratransit expenses in San Jose, California, from $4.88 to $3.72 per passenger.
§ Evaluations of adaptive traffic signal control systems have demonstrated reduction in delays of 14% to 44%, and a similar reduction in stops of 10% to 41%.
§ Studies in 3 cities (Los Angeles, Rochester, and Phoenix) showed that pedestrian detection devices that automatically activate traffic and crosswalk signals at intersections reduced pedestrian and vehicle safety conflicts by 40% for some types of conflicts to as much as 89% for certain others.
§ In a study of 40,000 inspections, safety inspectors increased the number of unsafe commercial drivers and vehicles removed from the highway from 8,000 to 12,000 by using advanced safety information systems instead of traditional methods.
Further, as President Bush’s energy policy recognizes, in reducing congestion ITS is a valuable strategy for fuel conservation. Every year we catalog results of the studies on ITS deployment in an annual report on ITS benefits.
While we are encouraged by these examples of deployment, and the benefits they have demonstrated, there are very few places where a complete metropolitan system could be considered to be in place, let alone a Statewide or National system. One recent estimate suggested that over the last decade we have moved from about 6% of our major metropolitan systems being instrumented to about 22% today. Not bad, but a long way from complete! Hence, we still face “Congestion Ahead” signs, as opposed to signs that give us detailed information on travel times and alternate routes--as they do in Paris.
Although ITS solutions are eligible for most Federal-aid funding categories, these projects are competing with traditional construction needs for the available funds. This may negate the effectiveness of the TEA-21 provisions making non-ITS funds available and may be slowing deployment. FHWA is conducting interviews and surveys to determine if this is a valid assessment.
Our experience suggests that some of the issues may be deeper than money. The institutions that we have today, particularly at the State level, were organized around constructing projects or enforcing the law. Those missions are quite different from the mission of managing or operating a road system to a particular performance level. Historically, adding capacity was the solution to congestion issues. Today, however, we need to focus more broadly on how to improve safety, productivity, and the operations of the specific highway and of the transportation system through ITS techniques.
For example, we have begun to realize that no institution “owns” the congestion or safety problem at the local level or State level, and no institution has the right players around the table such that they could be accountable for the daily performance of the system. The exception is the rare occasion when a major special event, such as the Olympic Games, comes to town. Except for those special events, no institution has enough of a stake in the performance of the system on a daily basis to insist on developing the electronic network that would enable the effective operation of the system.
And so, deployment is occurring at the margins, as budgets or earmarks permit, or major special events demand.
THE ROAD AHEAD
In many ways, the nationwide deployment of ITS mirrors the creation of the Interstate System, both in its potential for profoundly changing the delivery of transportation in the United States and in the magnitude of the challenge in getting it accomplished.
If we are going to move from spots of deployment to a full “electronic” National system of smart vehicles and smart roadways for safety, savings, and productivity, it will require the same type of programmatic commitment and institution building that we undertook for the Interstate system in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It will require us to do more than try to fit ITS into existing funding mechanisms, Federal regulations, and a transportation culture that has been created around a construction mission. It will require us to step back and think as boldly and as creatively as our predecessors did when they created the blueprint for the Interstate System.
As we begin to look toward the reauthorization of the surface transportation program, it will be important to consider what needs to be done to create an environment where we have the funding, institutions, and policies that will support the achievement of this vision.
In closing, thank you again for this opportunity to describe the status of the ITS program. I would be pleased to respond to any questions you might have.
Number of Projects