Road Network Operations
& Intelligent Transport Systems
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Assessment of Benefits

It is clear from media coverage that the changes that ITS interventions are intended to achieve are not necessarily apparent to, or welcomed by, all transport users. This means that agencies planning to introduce potentially controversial ITS technologies need to be well-prepared with convincing, evidence based arguments to communicate their aims. Examples are shown below.

Urban Road User Charging

ITS Intervention

Policy Aim

Public Perception

Urban Road User Charging


(on existing routes using electronic fee collection technology)

manage traffic demand and reduce congestion, time delays and pollution

invest net revenues in better public transport to influence modal shift

Public objections to being charged to use roads that the public has already paid for from its taxes




Urban congestion charging often scores badly in public opinion and referenda

Public opposition is a deterrent to elected local politicians, who need voter support


Success Story - London Congestion Charging: was politically achievable because

it relied on a quickly-installed enforcement method - automatic, on-street numberplate recognition cameras to record vehicles whose owners were not recorded in the back-office database as having paid the charge.

it was up and running, with its benefits becoming apparent, within a single four-year term of an elected mayor


Success Story – Stockholm Congestion Charging: was politically achievable because

it was implemented after a comprehensive public consultation

its net revenues are used to part finance other infrastructure investments

it was subject to a referendum held after its introduction

Camera Enforcement

ITS Intervention

Policy Aim

Public Perception

Camera Enforcement:

Red Light Running

Speed Enforcement

reduce the severity of accidents and save lives

invasion of an individual’s privacy

penalty fines viewed as hidden local government “taxation”

red light camera enforcement has come under strong challenge in the US.

In-vehicle Adaptive Speed Control

ITS Intervention

Policy Aim

Public Perception

Adaptive In-vehicle Speed Control technologies

reduce the severity of accidents and save lives

reduce the costs associated with accidents

smooth traffic flows

driver perception of loss of individual control

The benefits of ITS are varied and not always directly calculable. For example, real time information systems on public transport are often introduced at the same time as bus priority measures which make the service faster and more reliable, and very often with new or refurbished vehicles:

  • when a number of features changes it can be difficult to attribute a perception of improved service to any specific cause
  • it is also possible that real time information on public transport may have no effect on patronage: if non-users are not made aware of the improvement, it will not influence their travel choices


The benefits of ITS can be assessed in three ways:

  • Quantitative
  • Real-money
  • Qualitative

Quantitative Benefits

These benefits are often called socio-economic benefits as they cover the broader economic benefits to society as a whole and include both “safety” benefits and or “delay-saving” benefits. Economists have found various ways to put a monetary value on these benefits (See Valuing the Benefits).

Preventing or reducing the severity of an incident saves emergency service costs, hospital and medical costs and losses to the economy thorough lost productivity. Often these are combined and quantified for Killed and Serious Injury (KSI) incidents and where possible need to be quantified for the country, location or highway being considered for the application of ITS.

Speeding up traffic in urban area by means of “smart” computer-controlled traffic signals or smoothing traffic on motorways to eliminate stop-start conditions will bring travel-time savings.

Real-Money Benefits

ITS can provide cash benefits in a number of ways – for example, by reducing the initial capital investment in road infrastructure, or by offsetting operational costs to achieve revenue savings. These are often termed as “real” money savings as opposed to socio-economic benefits:

  • New ITS Investments: where there is no existing ITS, a new deployment can reduce the need for existing on-road resources to monitor and control traffic. ITS can also improve enforcement levels which has the safety and social benefit of improving driver behaviour and compliance, making the investment in ITS more effective overall
  • Existing ITS Savings: where ITS exists – particularly where there is an operations or traffic control centre – it can bring operational efficiencies through better resource management systems (Command, Control and Communications)
  • Maintenance and Renewal of Equipment: the normal life span of ITS can be up to fifteen years if well maintained – although control systems can age sooner. Operational savings may be obtained by replacing legacy equipment:
    • if it has been displaced by new technologies – the speed with which an ICT platform becomes obsolete may mean it is not supported by the original equipment manufacturer
    • with new low power devices and the use of the latest equipment which uses internet protocol telecommunications
    • if a rationalisation of roadside devices in use can simplify maintenance operations and spares holdings
  • Synergy Benefits: ITS applications can provide synergy benefits where application for ITS deployed for one purpose can serve other purposes as well. One system can provide support to other systems; ITS and/or non-ITS. Once truck, buses and vans are equipped with Automatic Vehicle Location it becomes possible to use them as mobile sources of data about journey times, congestion and real-time localised weather conditions. Once traffic monitoring is in place for the road network real-time data can be fed to the logistical support systems used by vehicle fleet managers, to assist scheduling and service reliability.

Qualitative Benefits

There is a wide range of qualitative benefits which can be assigned to the use of ITS. These include, improved customer experience through for example; a less stressful journey provided by traffic calming measures; better journey planning from pre-trip or on-trip driver information; improved compliance to information messages; better air quality from reduced CO2 emissions or other greenhouse gasses. While they can be referred to in supporting cases for the introduction of ITS it can be more informative if customer surveys are carried out as part of a before and after study.

Measuring customer satisfaction can be accomplished by asking whether the ITS product or service is delivering sufficient value or user benefit to outweigh the cost or investment in the product. This is often done through surveys.

ITS is expected to address the needs of not only the travellers but also transport operators, providers and managers. In most cases it may not be possible to assign a quantified benefit. Where results have been quantified – as illustrated in the table below  – they can be a useful factor in supporting the business case.

 Examples of ITS Benefits

There are many examples where the benefits of ITS have been measured. It is useful to consider both the aggregate and disaggregate benefits - that is to consider the impact the ITS investment will have overall, but also consider where the benefits will fall. Some benefits are in specific goal areas, such as safety. Others will be for specific groups of people, such as the rising population of mobile elderly and disabled people.

ITS Benefits Working Group (IBEC)

The International Benefits, Evaluation and Costs (IBEC) Working Group is planning to make ITS deployment and evaluation data more easily accessible to anyone that wants it. The working group is there to help transport decision makers and budget holders – who are not necessarily technical specialists – to come to better informed and more defensible judgements on ITS investments.

As part of its outreach, IBEC arranges sessions, seminars and workshops at World, European, Asia/Pacific and Pan-American ITS congresses and fora. IBEC sponsors sessions on this topic at the annual ITS World Congress.

IBEC also runs internal seminars and in-house training for organisations including the World Bank and the World Road Association (PIARC) and offers training materials in English and Spanish.

Membership of IBEC is open, with the aim of bringing together, and meeting the needs of, not only ITS professionals, but also transport planners, researchers, manufacturers and suppliers of ITS systems, decision-makers in public- and private-sector client organisations, as well as the transport-using public. This last is a very important audience, whose needs for ITS information are not always well catered for.

Members have access to a website library and information services. (See IBEC)

The USDOT ITS Benefits Database

Since the late 1990s, the Department of Transportation has been compiling an international database on the benefits of ITS. It documents the findings of numerous ITS evaluations studies that have been conducted throughout the years – which focus on assessing the impact of ITS deployments. (See ITS Benefits Database)
Reference sources

US Department of Transportation ITS Benefits Database on-line at