Transportation

Innovation in Transportation at American Competitiveness: What Works

February 27, 2012
Innovation in Transportation at American Competiveness: What Works

On February 14, 2012, ITIF President Rob Atkinson presented on a panel as part of the American Competitiveness: What Works conference. Atkinson discussed innovation in transportation, the potential for network intelligence to increase mobility, and pioneering new transportation frontiers.

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American Competitiveness: What Works

February 14, 2012
| Presentations

On February 14, 2012, ITIF President Rob Atkinson will be presenting on a panel as part of the American Competitiveness: What Works conference. Atkinson will be discussing innovation in transportation, the potential for network intelligence to increase mobility, and pioneering new transportation frontiers.

SAFE Transportation Report Panel

February 9, 2011
| Presentations

Moderated panel for the release of the "Transportation Policies for America's Future: Strengthening Energy Security & Promoting Economic Growth" report at the Hay-Adams, Washington, D.C. Other panel participants included Admiral Dennis Blair, U.S. Navy (Ret.); General Richard A. Cody, U.S. Army (Ret.); General John W. Handy, U.S. Air Force (Ret.); General Michael E. Ryan, U.S. Air Force (Ret.); Frederick W. Smith, Chairman and President/CEO of FedEx Corporation and Josh Weston, Honorary Chairman of ADP, Inc.

Congress’s next surface transportation authorization bill should fund basic research, technology development, and pilot programs to begin moving the United States to a mileage-based user fee system (VMT system) by 2020.

The research should be overseen by a multi-modal body within U.S. DOT that combines technology, policy, tax administration, and systems expertise. As recommended by the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission, the first set of studies should be wide-ranging and experimental, testing various self-selected VMT fee processes. Subsequent tests would be more prescriptive to facilitate the selection of a single, nationally interoperable system.

Congress should charge DOT with developing, by 2014, a national real-time traffic (traveler) information system, particularly in the top 100 metropolitan areas, and this vision should include the significant use of probe vehicles.

By 2014, the top 100 metropolitan areas should have at least 80 percent of freeway and arterial miles enabled by real-time traffic information systems (including incident notification, travel time, and travel speed data), and that information should be available in an interoperable format so that it can be used on any kind of Web, mobile, or in-vehicle application. States should make real-time traffic information freely available to the general public, akin to how the National Weather Service makes weather data available. In leveraging probe vehicles to collect real-time traffic information, the system should employ government vehicles, taxis, and even private fleets that would want to participate. For example, corporate vehicle fleets include hundreds of thousands of vehicles. If necessary, voluntary vehicles could receive a modest subsidy (such as a slightly reduced vehicle registration fee) for installing the probe device. States with cities in the top 100 metropolitan areas that do not achieve real-time traffic information collection and dissemination on 80 percent of their freeway and arterial roadways by 2014 should be penalized each year with fewer federal transportation dollars.

Congress should expand the remit of RITA’s Joint Program Office (JPO) at U.S. Department of Transportation to include deployment as well as research.

Currently, Congress has only given statutory permission for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) Joint Program Office (JPO) for intelligent transportation systems (ITS) to focus on research related to ITS systems. Congress should expand the JPO’s remit to include deployment as well as research, and also charge the JPO with developing, implementing, and managing a number of large-scale collaborative RDT&E projects focused on substantive and functional areas related to ITS.

Congress’s next surface transportation authorization should provide dedicated, performance-based funding of $1 billion for states to implement existing ITS systems and to provide for operations, maintenance, and training for already-deployed systems.

Currently, ITS projects often have to compete with conventional transportation projects for funding, such that ITS projects, which are poised to deliver greater long term benefits, may have to compete with projects that, while they may be immediately pressing, are not positioned to deliver as great long-term benefits, such as road repair or even new road construction. In addition to a lack of funding, which tends to exacerbate focus on more immediate concerns at the expense of a longer-term vision of the benefits of deploying ITS applications, bureaucratic inertia or a lack of interest, technical skill, or knowledge of ITS benefits have made it more difficult for ITS projects to compete with conventional transportation projects out of the same funding pools.
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