United States Senate
Committee on Environment and Public Works
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Testimony of James Costantino
President and CEO
ITS America
March 6, 1997

Good morning. I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the Subcommittee for the invitation to speak before you today. I am James Costantino, President and CEO of ITS America.

I am here today to speak to you about the many successes of the federal Intelligent Transportation Systems program, or "ITS", that was initiated by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, or "ISTEA", in 1991. I would also like to note that the federal ITS program is at a critical juncture. ITS is poised for national deployment, but this effort requires the continued leadership of this Congress in ISTEA's successor act ("Reauthorization Act") to ensure that deployment occurs in a truly integrated, interoperable and intermodal fashion across the United States.

ITS America, or the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, was incorporated in August 1990 and began operations in March 1991 at the behest of the Congress. It was intended to be, and is, a public/private coordinating organization in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation to guide the research, development and deployment activities associated with ITS. Our over 1,000 member organizations include private corporations, over 30 state departments of transportation, local government units, academia and other associations. ITS America is also a utilized Federal Advisory Committee to the U.S. Department of Transportation on ITS matters.

According to a recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute, Americans lose 2 billion hours a year in traffic congestion at a cost to the economy of $51 billion annually. This same study predicted that in 10 years, traffic will increase by 30 to 50 percent while overall highway mileage will increase only slightly. Based on these numbers, it is clear that transportation is becoming a problem where it once provided solutions.

The Need for ITS

This dramatic increase in highway travel cannot be handled solely by continuing to build and expand highway facilities because of the great cost and land use issues. ITS uses communications, computer and information technology to make better, safer, and more efficient use of our physical surface transportation system. ITS technologies include electronic toll facilities where you can zip through a toll booth at highway speed and have your toll electronically billed rather than stopping to pay. They include computerized control of traffic signals where traffic flow can be speeded up as conditions warrant.

They include "real time" information on traffic conditions to inform travelers ahead of time which routes are congested and which are not. They include in-vehicle navigation and route guidance systems to direct you to your destination in an unfamiliar area. They include collision warning systems now in use on many school buses and other vehicles to let drivers know when they are too close to other vehicles or objects. And they include "Mayday" systems that pinpoint the location of your vehicle in order to bring help when you are stranded.

The general benefits of ITS include fewer accidents on our streets and highways, more efficient traffic flow, fewer traffic jams, faster freight deliveries, better travel information, and quick emergency responses, to name a few.

ITS is not a replacement for continued investment in new or reconstruction in highways, bridges and transit systems. ITS enables the builders and operators of highways and transit systems to realize more bang for their buck. As federal funding for transportation becomes tighter, maximizing the benefits of each dollar spent becomes all the more crucial.

There is a direct analogy with the history of the aviation industry and what is happening in surface transportation today. On June 30, 1956, the day after President Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway Construction bill, two airliners collided over the Grand Canyon, killing all on board in both planes. As a result, the aviation industry immediately went high-tech, bringing in the latest in radar, communications, and traffic control systems to make air travel safer. But while air travel went high-tech, highways stayed low-tech, still using the same roadbuilding principles the Romans did in building the Appian Way 2000 years ago.

Although only one new airport, in Denver, has been built in a generation, we land two to three times as many planes as we did in the 1960s and 70s on our existing airport and airway infrastructure. We are just beginning to do for surface transportation what we did so well for air travel. ITS holds the promise of making possible quantum advances in the performance of the surface transportation system.


The 1991 Transportation Appropriations Act called for an organization to coordinate and accelerate ITS activities in the United States. The United States Department of Transportation charted ITS America as a Federal Advisory Committee on ITS matters. In December 1991 Congress passed the landmark ISTEA legislation, which included a subtitle titled the Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems Act of 1991 that established the federal ITS program and funded it at roughly $660 million over the six years of ISTEA. The Intelligent Vehicle Highway Act also advised the Secretary of Transportation to seek assistance and input from Federal Advisory Committees, such as ITS America, for purposes of supporting the federal ITS program. This partnership arrangement has worked well.

ISTEA funded research, development and testing of new technology applied to surface transportation. During the six years of ISTEA, the U.S. Department of Transportation has spent approximately $1 billion in the federal ITS program. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the majority of the $1 billion was spent on basic and applied research of existing and emerging technologies (30 percent) and conducting operational tests and establishing priority corridors for ITS technologies (57 percent). Many of these ITS systems have now proven themselves and, where deployed, have delivered significant public benefits. These are real benefits that are resulting now, even though a full scale, national deployment effort is not yet underway.

Real Benefits Happening Now

For the individual traveler, some of the benefits include a greater awareness of travel options and increased safety and personal security with greater convenience and reduced stress. On a broader level, benefits include enhanced system reliability and efficiency, increased safety, added productivity and competitiveness and the development of new markets and new industries.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, it has been shown that freeway management systems can reduce accidents by 17 percent, while permitting the system to handle 8 to 22 percent more traffic at greater speeds. Synchronization and real time system wide adaptation of traffic signals have the capability to decrease travel times by 14 percent, reduce delay by 37 percent and increase speeds by 22 percent. Incident management programs have reduced incident-related congestion and delays by 50 to 60 percent.

Examples of these systems include a 24-Hour Traffic Operations Center that has been operating in Northern Virginia since 1994 and a statewide Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the response to major accidents and weather emergencies. The New York City metropolitan area has been selected as a Model Deployment Initiative site. This will be a showcase of ITS technologies providing real-time traffic information through local government agencies as well as through independent service providers.

Electronic toll collection is another technology that has delivered clear benefits, both in terms of reducing operating costs and time saved by drivers. In New Jersey, electronic toll systems have saved approximately $2.7 million to date through reduced labor costs. Similarly, in Oklahoma, the turnpike electronic toll collection has resulted in reducing annual cost per lane from $176,000 to $16,000 -- a savings of over 90 percent. Regarding throughput on electronic toll lanes: increases of 200 to 300 percent compared with traditional attended lanes have resulted. As for public acceptance, the E-Z Pass program has signed up hundreds of thousands of users in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Expected Benefits

It is still early in the development and deployment of rural ITS technologies, but clear benefits are expected. Rural ITS technologies would include such systems as traveler mayday systems, hazard and weather emergency warning systems, tourism and travel information services, and commercial vehicle operations. "Mayday" systems will dramatically reduce the time it takes for emergency personnel to reach accidents. The benefit is key as every minute saved by emergency crews getting to an accident scene lessens the seriousness of the injuries and ultimately, the likelihood of death. In-vehicle navigation systems, already deployed in many rental car fleets and commercial vehicle fleets, are expected to have a significant impact in rural areas.

Other examples of rural deployment include roadway weather information systems that are helping to manage snow clearing operations in a number of states. A Storm Warning System is being tested in Idaho to provide accurate and reliable visibility and weather data on I-84, a highway subject to reduced visibility from blowing snow and dust. California and Nevada have already deployed a traveler information system along the I-80/US50 corridor between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe/Reno. Using satellites, land line and cellular telephones and wireless FM subcarriers, real-time information is given to travelers via telephones, in-vehicle navigation systems and interactive kiosks.

ITS technologies are clearly applicable to Commercial Vehicle Operations, in both urban and rural environments. Systems such as electronic clearance, automated roadside safety inspections and on-board safety monitoring will provide major benefits for public agencies as well as trucking operators. Automated roadside safety inspections are predicted to save a state between $156,000-$781,000 in costs of avoided accidents. On-board safety systems, along with electronic clearance and automated roadside safety inspections, could reduce fatalities by 14-32 percent.

Currently, Interstate 75, which runs from Miami to Detroit and on to Ontario, Canada, is being used to test many of the ITS applications for Commercial Vehicle Operations. Upon entering the freeway, a truck will stop at the first weigh station. Information about that truck will then be stored in its truck-mounted transponder. The information is also forwarded onto the next weigh station for automatic compliance and clearance from that weigh station. This test is demonstrating reduced waiting times for inspection and clearance, resulting in reduced costs and improved efficiencies for both the trucking industry and state governments.

In addition, there are similar coalitions of Western states, including Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada and Montana, using ITS applications for Commercial Vehicle Operations to create an eventual borderless and paperless trucking system.

National Goal for ITS Deployment

These are but a few of the many examples of successful ITS deployment. Many have come from successful operational tests. Unfortunately, in the absence of a national deployment effort, deployment to date has occurred in a fragmented fashion. If the prime goals of ISTEA -- namely intermodalism and efficiency-- are to be realized, then ITS technologies need to be deployed in a systematic and interoperable manner across the nation. To this end, ITS America has promulgated a National Goal for ITS, which reads:

To complete deployment of basic ITS services for consumers of passenger and freight transportation across the nation by 2005.

Currently, there are three basic areas of ITS that are ready for deployment: (1) services related to travel information and transportation management; (2) services related to intermodal freight, including Commercial Vehicle Operations; and (3) in-vehicle and personal information products in the consumer and commercial marketplace. The U.S. Department of Transportation has established compatible deployment goals by 2005 for metropolitan ITS infrastructure, a commercial vehicle information systems and networks (CVISN), and rural ITS.

In order to achieve the ITS deployment goal, the public and private sectors must work in partnership. The public sector will lead in the deployment of core intelligent transportation infrastructure to meet essential public needs, in partnership with the private sector in the right situation. For its part, the private sector will lead in the development and bringing to market of reliable and affordable Intelligent Transportation Systems. What is crucial to this equation is that all Intelligent Transportation Systems that are developed and deployed must be integrated, interoperable and intermodal.

Integration of ITS systems must be initiated now before wide-scale deployment occurs. Without it, disjointed pockets of deployment will result that will be a barrier to the seamless flow of information across jurisdictions, regions and states. In five or ten years, the cost of retrofitting these systems to achieve integration will be prohibitive.

The National Goal has been widely supported by a broad spectrum of organizations, who frequently have differing perspectives, including over 30 natinal associations and nearly 200 other public and private organizations. These organizations include the American Automobile Association, American Trucking Associations, Association of American Railroads, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Surface Transportation Policy Project, United States Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and the National Conference of State Legislatures, to name but a few. (A list of the major organizations and associations supporting the National Goal is attached.) The support of the National Goal is indeed broad based, cutting across the spectrum of transportation policies and perspectives.

ITS National Investment and Market Analysis

As ITS America was developing the national goal in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and as DOT developed congruent federal goals, the need for a thorough analysis of the costs, benefits, market growth, and economic impact of achieving the goal became evident. ITS America and the U.S. Department of Transportation jointly sponsored a study which has been conducted by Apogee Research and Wilbur Smith Associates to address these issues.

The overall market for the basic ITS metropolitan infrastructure and associated products and services in the consumer and commercial marketplace for the next twenty years is $437 billion dollars. Of that amount approximately $90 billion is for the public infrastructure and $347 billion are for products and services in the market place. Early public investment, however, will leverage much of the private market activity. An overall benefit-to-cost ratio for all metropolitan areas is 5.7 dollars of benefit for every public dollar invested. The benefit-to-cost ratio for 75 of the largest metro areas is 8.8 to 1. Safety related benefits accident cost savings represent 44% of the benefits. Time savings account for 41%. The economic impact of achieving the national goal will see a ripple multiplier effect on the economy of 240 to 300 billion dollars triggered by 93 billion in direct public investment. 590,000 jobs will be created.

The public cost of achieving the national goal in metropolitan areas over the next ten years will be $48 billion dollars. Cost, benefit and market analysis for commercial vehicle operations infrastructure and rural applications will be completed this summer.

These benefits and projected economic activity are predicated on public policies that result in achieving the national goal. Reauthorization legislation will define federal leadership and drive public investment in ITS which will be critical if the goal is to be reached.

Reauthorization Principles

In its role as a utilized Federal Advisory Committee to the U.S. Department of Transportation, ITS America has prepared and submitted as formal program advice a set of ISTEA reauthorization principles. (A copy of the submitted document is included with this written testimony.)

The first principle states that:

1. The Reauthorization Act should support the National Surface Transportation Goal for ITS, which is to complete deployment of basic ITS services for consumers of passenger and freight transportation across the nation by 2005. This goal should be supported by providing that an amount equivalent to at least 5% of total surface transportation outlays be invested in ITS applications unless the appropriate officials (non-federal) formally waive or modify the goal for their area.

This is what we refer to as a "soft set-aside." This is not a proposal to impose additional onerous mandates on state and local governments with regard to their use of surface transportation trust fund money. In this case, Congress would indicate that an amount equivalent to at least five percent of each state's federal trust fund apportionment should be used for deployment of ITS. However to "opt out" of, or modify, this requirement, all that the state and local authorities with responsibility for use of federal surface transportation funding would need to do is to take a formal and public action stating that either the jurisdiction has chosen not to support the national goal or that different sources or levels of funding will be used to achieve it. The only condition on the funding, if used for ITS deployment, would be compliance with national standards for interoperability.

Funding incentives to initiate national deployment of ITS are essential for this reauthorization bill. Without such an incentive for the next several years, a coordinated and coherent national deployment will not occur. However, it is clear that most of the federal funding will, in the long run, come from mainstream funding categories.

The second, third, fourth and fifth principles state:

2. The Reauthorization Act should continue to support an aggressive Research and Technology program. This program should emphasize system integration of ITS vehicle and infrastructure technologies for all modes.

3. The Intelligent Transportation Systems Program should be structured in such a manner as to maximize long term predictability and stability.

4. To create maximum flexibility, the Reauthorization Act should clarify and expand the eligible uses of program category funds to allow for training, operations and maintenance of ITS technology, in addition to ITS capital expenditures.

5. The Reauthorization Act should require regular reports to Congress on the status of deployment toward achieving the National Goal. The report should address specific progress as well as performance and effectiveness.

The sixth principle states:

6. The Reauthorization Act should encourage the use of innovative financing techniques, especially public/private partnerships, in the deployment of ITS, including construction, operations and maintenance.

In an environment of limited of federal resources, effective use of private capital and initiative become more critical. We applaud the actions of Congress in the original ISTEA and the National Highway System acts for enabling experimentation and implementation of innovative financing techniques for transportation infrastructure, including the establishment of State Infrastructure Banks. Moreover, public/private partnerships allow private initiative to be used to undertake activities that traditionally been viewed as solely public sector responsibilities.

The seventh principle states:

7. Federal funding should be reserved for those ITS purposes which are not being carried out by private investment.

The eighth principle states:

8. The Reauthorization Act should eliminate barriers to ITS deployment by encouraging the use of innovative and flexible methods for procurement.

The ITS community quickly learned that the traditional linear and segmented process for procuring capital transportation projects cannot be effectively applied to information technology and system deployment. There are successful models for ITS procurement, but, to date, their application remains the exception and not the rule. Federal law, regulation and practice should enable and encourage public agencies to use these differing procurement tools to design, build, and operate ITS systems.

The ninth principle states:

9. The Reauthorization Act should continue a targeted federal role, in partnership with the private sector, in the rapid development of consensus-based ITS standards, stimulation of ITS markets, and essential research and development. To ensure interoperability, Federal funding should only be eligible for ITS systems with components that are consistent with the adopted model architecture and, where they exist, conform to adopted standards.

The importance of the development of standards to assure interoperability and to sustain a national market place cannot be over emphasized. Consumers, including individuals, public agencies, and companies further down the chain of product development have the biggest stake in the competitive market enabled by standards. The federal government is now playing a critical role, in collaboration with the traditional standards developing organizations and the ITS America public/private partnership, in coordinating, accelerating and maximizing the development process for key interoperable standards. This role should be continued and strengthened.


In conclusion, the national ITS initiative is ready to move to the deployment stage, building upon the successes to date fostered by ISTEA. A national deployment effort is essential if we are to achieve the vision of seamless, intermodal and interoperable systems that use state-of-the-act technology to gain the maximum in safety and efficiency from our surface transportation systems.

National deployment must shift away from the isolated, stand-alone systems that have proven the concept and demonstrated that the technology works. National deployment requires an incentive program that provides leadership and focus without mandates and hard set-asides. Deployment incentives, along with fostering standards for interoperability, broadening federal eligibility criteria for ITS, facilitating private investment, eliminating procurement barriers, providing a stable funding source and supporting continued research are the key elements of what should comprise the ITS component of reauthorization.