PLENARY SESSION--Benefits of ITMS
Jeffery Lindley, Federal Highway Administration--Presiding

Benefits of Early Deployment from a Core Infrastructure Perspective
James Wright, Minnesota Department of Transportation

My presentation will focus on the experience in Minnesota with the benefits of ITMS from a core infrastructure perspective. The FHWA has identified seven basic elements of the ITS core infrastructure. These are freeway surveillance and management, arterial signal control, incident management, vehicle location for transit, toll roads, electronic payments, and traveler information systems.

I would like to review the Minnesota experience with each of these different elements, the current status of activities, and the benefits that have been realized to date. First, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has developed a fairly extensive freeway surveillance and management system in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Currently, this system includes almost 400 freeway ramp meters, 156 closed circuit television cameras, 3,000 loop detectors, 39 Autoscope cameras, 51 changeable message signs, and 90 freeway emergency call boxes.

Expansion of all these elements are planned, with the exception of the call boxes. This program may be phased out due to the cost of operating and maintaining the system and the proliferation of cellular telephones, which appear to be more effective. In addition, a system of fiber cable is being installed. Roughly 100 miles of a planned 250 mile fiber system has been implemented. This system will connect the MnDOT operations center, the transit operations center, the City of Minneapolis, and Hennepin County. A Highway Radio Advisory (HRA) is also operated out of the MnDOT center.

A number of benefits have been realized from the implementation of all these elements. The capacity of the freeway system has increased to upwards of 2,200 vehicles per hour per lane. Speed increases averaging 12 miles per hour has been realized on the freeways. The number of accidents have been reduced by over 100 per year. Savings in fuel consumption and vehicle emission reductions have also been realized. Finally, a savings of $1 million per year in user benefits has been estimated based on reductions in accidents and congestion levels.

The traffic signal control system is the second core infrastructure element. Currently, there are approximately 2,200 traffic signals in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. These are operated by eight different jurisdictions and include fixed time, actuated-isolated, actuated-interconnected, and adaptive control signals. In addition, a portable traffic management system has been field tested. This system includes closed circuit television cameras, changeable message signs, and the ability to tap into signals to change the timing sequence.

It is a little difficult to quantify the benefits from these systems, especially those still in the early stages of deployment. The benefits of the SCOOT signal system, compared to the "best effort" fixed time optimization has been identified, however. Some of the benefits identified for the approximately 70 signals in the SCOOT system in Toronto include an eight percent decrease in average travel time, a 22 percent average decrease in vehicle stops, and a 17 percent average decrease in vehicle delay. Related reductions in fuel consumption and vehicle emissions were also estimated.

I would next like to summarize the status of incident management activities on freeways in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. There are two major components to the incident management system. The first is the Highway Helper program. This provides assistance to motorists weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the major freeways in the metropolitan area. The Highway Helper program has resulted in numerous benefits. Approximately 15 percent of all accidents in Minneapolis are secondary accidents. If we can reduce exposure to accidents, we should be able to reduce these secondary incidents. There is also a 4:1 payback ratio with the program. This means if you can clear an accident five minutes sooner, you will cut 20 minutes in related congestion delay downstream.

A towing policy has also been implemented. Under this policy, private tow trucks are immediately dispatched to the scene of an accident. This program has cut the average response time in half, or to approximately 20 minutes. The Highway Helper program provided some 13,000 assists last year. This program is very well received by the public and is one of MnDOT's most visible efforts.

Currently, there is no system for incident management on arterial streets in the area. There are two planned field tests, however. The first, called Divert, is in downtown St. Paul. This system will use 10 closed circuit television cameras, four changeable message signs, and HAR to help manage traffic during special events. Divert is scheduled to be operational this year.

The second project will be implemented in the I-494 corridor near the airport and the Mega Mall. This system will use eight closed circuit television cameras, 12 variable message signs, two portable variable message signs, and HAR to manage traffic on two parallel arterials.

The next core infrastructure component is AVL for transit. A Global Positioning System (GPS) AVL system is being implemented in the area. The hardware elements have been installed, and 80 buses have been equipped with AVL. These buses are operating in the I-394 corridor. Real-time information on the status of buses is being displayed at the transit stations and at park-and-ride lots in the corridor. This feature has been well received by the public.

Another part of the project includes three kiosks located in downtown Minneapolis providing real-time transit and traffic information. The next step, which will begin this summer, will deploy terminals in commuter's homes and businesses in the I-394 corridor. We hope this will result in increased transit ridership. Potential benefits of the AVL system include better fleet management, fewer on-street supervisors, improved schedule adherence, and improved safety for operators and riders.

In 1993, the Minnesota legislature authorized toll roads, and in 1994 a road pricing study was mandated. The potential for pricing use of HOV lanes single-occupant vehicles is also being examined. We hope to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for major toll road projects in July and select projects by December. The potential benefits of toll roads include additional revenues, dedicated funds for specific locations and uses, faster construction and development schedules, and establishing a revolving fund to match federal funding.

The next core infrastructure area is electronic payment. A number of parking projects are currently being developed in the metropolitan area. First, the City of Minneapolis has recently implemented 100 parking meters that use pre-paid debit cards and debit keys for payment. The system also clears any remaining time on the meter as a vehicle leaves the parking space. The city estimates that this system will result in a 10 percent increase in parking revenues.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport parking facilities include 10,000 spaces and account for some $3 million in annual transactions. The license plates of all vehicles parked at the airport ramp are recorded electronically each night. Vehicle license plates are also read as a vehicle leaves the parking garages, and the required parking fee is automatically produced. This system has increased revenues and has decreased parking fraud.

The taxis and hotel vans at the airport have recently been equipped with automatic vehicle identification (AVI) tags. The goal of this system is to maintain a maximum of 15 taxis in the terminal queue at any one time. Other taxis wait off site until they are called. Special vehicles--such as station wagons or vans--can also be called by the system. Taxi fares can also be paid by credit cards.

Another element of the airport transportation plan is to limit the time hotel vans circulate or stand at the airport terminal to 10 minutes. The fee for these vehicles to enter the airport is currently $.75. If a hotel van is in the terminal area for 11 to 21 minutes, an additional $1.00 is charged. After 21 minutes, the parking fee goes up to $2.00. These charges have not been implemented, however, as hotels are adhering to the 10 minute limit. The system will be implemented if congestion becomes a problem.

A number of traveler information systems are being implemented in the metropolitan area. MnDOT's HAR currently broadcasts during the morning and afternoon peak-periods. The HAR covers 829 square miles of the metropolitan area. The HAR is well listened to and appears to fill an important need.

A number of ITS Operational Tests and Field Trials are underway in the area. These include Travlink, Genesis, Trilogy, an advanced parking information system in downtown St. Paul, and an in-vehicle navigation system.

Polaris is the traveler information system which really brings all of the these elements together. It includes the development of a statewide ITS architecture; a statewide deployment program focusing on paging, cable television, and use of the Internet and World Wide Web; a road weather information system in rural parts of the state; and the mall concept of privatization. This concept equates the deployment of the different ITS components to a mall manager and individual stores. MnDOT will act as the mall manager to establish the standards and protocols, and the private sector--or individual stores--will then provide the different user services.

In summary, the MnDOT freeway management system has resulted in a 20 percent increase in capacity and an increase in freeway speeds of 12 miles per hour. The adaptive signal control system provides an 8 percent decrease in travel times over isolated signal systems. The incident management system has resulted in significant time savings in responding to freeway accidents. We anticipate that the other core infrastructure components will be equally beneficial.

Dallas Urban Area Integrated Transportation Systems
James D. Carvell, Jr., Texas Transportation Institute

The experience with freeway corridor traffic management in the Dallas area started in the 1970s. In 1973, meters on 34 freeway ramps were implemented in the North Central Expressway. In addition, 15 intersections on the frontage roads were controlled by a central computer for bus priority. Trailer mounted matrix signs, rotating drum signs, and a two channel telephone system, which provided information on freeway conditions, were also part of the system.

This system worked well. The test data indicated that freeway speeds increased by 15 percent and delay time decreased by 15 percent. Bus travel times decreased by some 10 percent. This system was not continued, however, for a number of reasons, not the least of which was a commitment of sufficient resources for operation and maintenance. Thus, rather than presenting the benefits of an existing system, my comments will explore how the Dallas area is working to develop a new transportation management system and the anticipated benefits from this system.

I think one of the key benefits of working toward the development of ITMS is that it requires a focus on regional transportation goals. There are 33 municipalities in the Dallas area. Eight of these have populations greater than 50,000, with five of these over 100,000. These municipalities may have different operational goals, but working toward the deployment of ITMS requires a focus on regional goals and objectives.

At the same time, ITMS can accommodate jurisdictional independence. Smaller communities may be concerned that larger cities or the state will take control of traffic operations in their community. ITMS can accommodate jurisdictional differences and operation plans can be developed to serve the needs of all communities.

ITMS also provides the opportunity for a more nearly seamless traffic signal system. Certainly ITMS contributes to the goals of the Clean Air Act Amendments and may have other environmental benefits. By combining funding from numerous local sources, ITMS may help leverage additional federal funds for an area. ITMS can also minimize duplication of effort by effecting shared resources.

ITMS also helps foster inter-jurisdictional communication and cooperation. In most areas, including Dallas, multi-agency teams are being used to coordinate the development and ongoing operations of these systems. This communication and coordination can spill over to other projects and helps build closer working ties among the different groups involved in ITMS.

I would like to briefly discuss two projects in the Dallas area the provide examples of these benefits. The first is the North Dallas County Integrated Traffic Signal System project. The goal of this project was to improve traffic service by coordinating signal operation across jurisdictional boundaries.

The project area is a heavily traveled corridor in North Dallas County. There were 224 traffic signals in the corridor operated by six jurisdictions. Most of these were actuated signals. When the project began, there was minimal coordination within the cities and none across city limit lines.

The project objective was to erase the city boundaries with respect to the traffic signal system. Thus, the effort focused on traffic operations. The City of Dallas took the lead on coordinating this effort. Working with the other cities, the program was presented as a county-wide effort and a bond referendum was passed by the voters to fund the system.

An engineering consultant was hired to develop the timing plans for the corridor. Each city procured the necessary hardware and controllers with their own specifications with the coordinating committee performing a review and approval of disbursements function.

This system has resulted in numerous benefits. Travel time in the corridor has been reduced by six percent, vehicle delay time has been reduced by 34 percent, and stops have been reduced by 43 percent. The estimated reductions in fuel consumption and emissions is approximately 5 percent, and the estimated annual benefits are $26 million at a cost of $4 million. I think one of the real benefits of the project is that it showed that Dallas County could undertake a multi-jurisdictional effort and that the County and the six cities with differing goals and priorities could work cooperatively. As a result, the next bond election extended the program to other parts of the County and established $4 million in seed funding for an incident response center.

The second project I would like to talk about is the development of an inter-jurisdictional ITS Implementation Plan for the Dallas area. This effort grew out of the Dallas County Integrated Traffic Signal System project. The multi-jurisdictional working group from the traffic signal project was interested in continuing their joint efforts to develop an ITS early deployment plan.

The area included in the early deployment plan covers a much larger area, encompassing approximately 400 square miles. The 25 member project steering committee includes representatives from the several cities, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), the private sector, and other groups. The advisory committee meets on a monthly basis. A series of one-day workshops have been held to discuss major issues and to identify appropriate approaches.

Major issues being examined in the early deployment plan include institutional concerns, inter-jurisdictional issues, formulation of a system architecture for the area, and development of an ITS implementation plan. Integrating local traffic signals during incidents was one of the first major issues to be addressed. The approach agreed upon by the Steering Committee is that TxDOT will operate a central management and information processing system and that the cities will implement predetermined signal timing plans in response to specific incidents. Data and information will be stored among TxDOT, the cities, and the private sector.

A second workshop focused on on-site incident management. The keys to success of Integrated Transportation Systems include the early involvement of all affected agencies, monthly meetings of the steering committee, open discussion, ongoing communication with all affected groups, and fostering participation of all agencies. In addition, I think the mutual respect the members of the steering committee have for each other has been an important element.

Finally, a committee workshop produced guidelines for the deployment of hardware and management systems.

Montgomery County, Maryland
Gram Norton, Montgomery County, Maryland

A question was asked earlier about how to initiate the development of ITMS. I would like to explain how we got started in Montgomery County, Maryland, and provide an overview of our current system. I will close my presentation by outlining our future vision and the next steps in the deployment process.

In the late 1980s a truck carrying what was believed to be hazardous material overturned on a freeway in the county. The facility was closed for 17 hours while the different agencies responsible for hazardous materials, public safety, enforcement, and freeway operations responded and cleared the incident. The media provided a full review and audit of the situation. As one can imagine, the results of the review were not very complimentary to the way the incident was handled.

The political leadership in the area decided that this type of situation should not be repeated and started the process to develop coordinated incident response teams. The use of advanced technologies became an integral part of this process.

Montgomery County is located just to the north of Washington, D.C. The county covers some 500 square miles and has a population of 800,000. Montgomery County is a "full service" county, in that the county provides a full range of municipal services. There are only a few incorporated municipalities in the county and 80 percent of the population lives in incorporated areas.

There are 350 miles of state roads in the county, along with 2,200 miles of county roads. The county is responsible for all of the traffic signals on the state road system. Because of the countyís location between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., a great amount of traffic travels through the area on the three major travel corridors. All of these corridors are congested and traffic volumes are projected to increase.

Until the 1980s, travel patterns in the county focused primarily on work travel into and out of the Washington, D.C. area. As a result, the county has an excellent transportation and transit system serving this commute pattern. The growth in travel in the 1980s occurred primarily within the county, however. Today, over 60 percent of the work trips begin and end within the county. The new travel demands developed in both a starburst pattern and in an east-west pattern. The transportation infrastucture was not developed to support these travel demands.

The development of a computerized centrally managed traffic signal system began in the 1980s. The traffic management center also became a reality during this time. The first element of the center was managing the 660 traffic signals in the county.

The county experienced a fiscal crisis in the early 1990s, similar to many other municipalities around the country. This resulted in a loss of both capital and operating funds. For example, the six year roadway capital program for the county was as high as $320 million in the late 1980s. The six year budget recently submitted contains only $88 million for the roadway program. Thus, it became apparent that funding was not available to expand the roadway system. Automated traffic management and other ITS activities became a key focus for the new approach to address the transportation problems in the county. There was strong political support for the development of these systems.

The transportation management system in Montgomery County includes a number of elements. The county leases an airplane which is in the air during the morning and afternoon peak-periods. The information from this air monitoring program is provided directly to the center and to the fire rescue service and the police department. In fact, the pilot is a retired police officer.

The emphasis in the early 1990s was on gathering information to help manage the system. Incident detection and response were major elements of the system and many of the benefits Jim mentioned concerning the MnDOT traffic management system were realized in Montgomery County.

The county also operates a bus system, Ride-On, which carries approximately 50,000 passengers daily. Metrobuses also operate in the county. A little over a year ago, the dispatchers from the two bus facilities were relocated to the transportation management center. The initial impetus for this move was to provide the transit system with better information on current traffic conditions. It soon became obvious, however, that the 200 buses operating throughout the county could also provide valuable information to the center. Much more information came in from the bus operators than went out to them.

It was at this point that we made the consensus decision to move from traffic management to transportation management. The effort to fully integrate transit into the center was initiated at this point. The automated traffic management system became the automated transportation management system with the integration of transit.

A GPS-based AVL system is being implemented with the Ride-On bus system. Currently, one bus is equipped with the AVL technology. A 50 vehicle pilot project will be in operation by the end of the year and the county recently received a grant from the State of Maryland to equip the full fleet.

On December 28, 1993, another significant event occurred. The first of seven major snow and ice storms hit the east coast that day. Prior to the storm, the county had installed six video cameras at key intersections on the arterial street system. The capability also existed to broadcast live from these cameras on the county cable television channel, although we had never used this connection.

During the snow storms, the conditions at the six intersections were shown live on the cable channel. The reaction the public information office received on this coverage was very positive. Based on the response, it was decided to continue this service on a regular basis. Today, two hours of live coverage are provided every morning and afternoon on the conditions at 16 intersections, accidents, incidents, the status of the transit system, and other elements. The channel is also pre-empted during major snow emergencies and additional information on plowing, sanding, and road conditions is provided.

Thus, the Montgomery County system has expanded from just collecting information to managing the transportation system, to collecting information to manage the system and to provide it to the public. This information is helping individuals to make informed travel choices. All possible ways of communicating with the public are being considered.

The airplane used by the county has been equipped with a video camera and live coverage can be provided. The county also operates two traveler advisory radio stations. Planning is underway to provide information through the Internet and through personal computers. The county system will be linked this month to the State of Marylandís Chart system and information will be shared between the two systems. Further, there are plans underway for a Capital Beltway Coalition that would expand the linking capabilities of the system.

There are a number of reasons why ITMS is approximate at the county level. ITMS can enhance the efficiency of the transportation system--both roadways and transit--and it can improve safety and security by providing improved incident detection and response capabilities. Finally, ITMS can provide critical information to the public to make informed travel choices.

Expenditures to date on the traffic signal and roadway elements of the system have been in the range of $8 to $10 million. Another $4 million will be invested in the bus AVL system and other transit components. Although much of the system has been funded with federal and state funds, communicating the benefits of the system to the local decision makers has been a critical part of our effort. We have taken elected officials up in the airplane and given numerous tours of the center. Broadcasting live on cable television has been one of the best methods for obtaining political support for the system.

The overall benefits of the system include getting greater efficiency out of the transportation system, providing enhanced incident detection and management capabilities, improving the safety of the different facilities, and providing greatly improved information to our citizens. The Montgomery County transportation management system represents a critical element to help meet the future travel demands in the area.

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