ITS deployment in road network operations helps to provide users with better managed urban and interurban roads. Congestion is a huge source of delay and unreliability in travel times and journeys. Its cost is high – and though this impacts directly on those using the roads, it also impacts on the general public in terms of increased transportation costs for personal mobility and the price of goods.
US research indicates that traffic congestion-related emissions in a single year are valued at approximately $31 billion, with an additional $60 billion related costs in wasted time and fuel. A major share of the costs of USA truck congestion ($23 billion in 2010) was passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices of goods and services. Developing and emerging economies are particularly susceptible to congestion – with queues often many kilometres in length. It is estimated that the Philippines is losing ₱2.4 billion (pesos) a day in potential income due to traffic congestion.
Road network monitoring plays a critical role in collecting data on route condition and performance information. The quality of the data derived from ITS applications is key in enabling transport planners to analyse the problems of congestion in detail and develop specific solutions based on experiences of travellers and freight operators. ITS products and services which make use of data to provide:
ITS benefits different groups of users:
Everyone benefits from ITS applications that:
Some advantages of ITS come at a perceived cost to the user. There can be a trade-off. The underlying issues for an individual – and for society as a whole – are “is it worth it” and “do I get value for money”? For example:
A particular local issue for public transport users is the last 1km-2km stage of their journey – between the last stop and their final destination (home, workplace, shops or leisure activities). Journey planners can help by factoring in:
For rural public transport users, dependent largely on buses, the basic communications infrastructure needed to give them urban-style real-time passenger information is typically lacking. This is because of the lack of incentives for operators to install these for relatively small numbers of passengers – and the high cost of installing displays at remote bus stops.
Potential solutions include crowdsourcing, with smartphone-equipped passengers acting as both providers and consumers of travel information via a website. Their satellite positioning-enabled devices can be used to upload information on the bus on which they are travelling for the benefit of others.
Disabled drivers need reliable information on the availability of appropriate accessible parking places near to their planned destination. New travel applications are being developed for smartphones which use GPS locational technology, parking space sensors and two-way messaging to enable disabled drivers on the move to find and pay for disabled parking. An example is the City of Westminster’s free “ParkRight” application (See https://www.westminster.gov.uk/parkright) which provides real-time information on over 3,000 parking bays in London’s West End. It can filter bays for disabled parking, provide information on operating hours and tariffs, interact with vehicle satellite navigation systems, and allow users to pay for and manage their parking sessions.
Public transport users with mobility difficulties, need to be able to board and travel on public transport safely and comfortably – and they need access to travel information in a suitable format, so they can plan their journeys in advance. This includes information about interchanges and transport terminals (including the availability of elevators) and arrival times of buses, trams and trains – for transport services offering suitable access for their specific mobility needs. For example, passengers in wheelchairs need up-to-date information about any impediments to their planned journeys. Accessibility information is provided on many websites for travel planning purposes covering accessible drop-off points, parking, entrances and step free access to stations. In Paris, information on metro stations where elevators are out of action can be accessed before travel. Similarly in the UK, the National Rail Enquiries’ “Station Made Easy” service provides accessibility information for all stations (See http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/sjp/BHM/stationAccessibility.xhtml)
Passengers with mobility problems can be encouraged to make greater use public transport by the introduction of technology. For instance:
SNAPI (See http://www.snapi.org.uk/) has produced a European standard for coding user needs to enable adaptable user interfaces on a range of self-service terminals (such as ticket machines) and automatic gates. The user’s needs are coded onto a contactless smartcard which can be pre-set to request:
The SNAPI reader is connected via a USB cable to a user’s PC (onto which the relevant software has been preloaded) or built into at-station machines. Displays revert to normal on withdrawal of the SNAPI card.
Operators investing in these ITS products benefit – the improved accessibility they offer is good for business, attracting passengers who would not otherwise think of using public transport.
ITS applications impact on the local communities within which they are deployed. Cars, trucks, buses and trains all affect the people living, working, walking, playing or socialising in the area in which they operate. ITS can:
Benefits for some may come at an acceptable or unacceptable cost – depending on the interests of the community or stakeholder groups. Identifying the communities affected is important in identifying who benefits from what ITS measures whether they be:
Many ITS deployments will benefit a number of communities. For example, better freight management can benefit:
For inter-urban roads, the community benefits arise from a whole-system application of ITS whose primary aim is to manage flows in a wider motorway and road network and to manage and reduce the congestion impacts of incidents and emergencies. Community benefits will include reducing traffic, delays, pollution, safety and better emergency response. The stakeholder groups benefitting may be quite dispersed – even people living a few miles from a major highway may experience noise pollution.
The UTC system introduced in Paris, France, included reducing the waiting time for pedestrians crossing at signals and extending crossing time, and adjusting signal times to suit cyclists. It has made the area safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and at the same time reduced the time which vehicles spend in traffic by 15%.
In Trondheim, Norway, toll ring and traffic management measures were deployed, reducing vehicle traffic in the city centre. The change in mix of traffic on some routes reduced accidents by 60-70%
An electronic parking guidance system was installed at O R Tambo International Airport, South Africa to deal with the significant problems of congestion on the roads leading to the airport and within the airport itself. Major benefits included a 70% reduction in fuel emissions and a reduction in the average time to find a parking space – from 8 minutes to two and a half minutes (See http://www.itsinternational.com/sections/cost-benefit-analysis/features/intelligent-parking-guidance-relieves-congestion-reduces-costs/)
ITS helps policy-makers, transport authorities, road network and public transport operators to do a better job – helping to deliver their transport objectives. For example, if one of the objectives of a city’s transport policy is to:
Investment in ITS can help them to deliver safer and more reliable journeys, reducing the detrimental effect on the environment, giving priority to freight transport, commuter traffic, public transport or pedestrians. It does so by helping to manage a city road network – and balancing many conflicting priorities. These might include the competing needs of residents, commercial retailing, tourism and the environment, as well as ensuring mobility for people without their own personal means of transport and making transport accessible to vulnerable road users.
One of the key benefits of ITS for policy-makers and transport professionals is that, embedded within ITS is the ability to gather and process large amounts of data and information – which can be used in decision-making on future planning and ITS investments. (See Project Appraisal) For example:
Investment in new road infrastructure has been important to accommodate demand but has often been unable to keep pace. ITS has a role to play in ensuring efficient and safe use of the infrastructure – smoothing traffic flows and improving journey times – and can help postpone the need for further new road building. (See Benefits to Road Network Management)
The benefits gained from deploying ITS will be outstripped by traffic growth within a few years, unless the measures are part of a wider mobility and transport policy – for example, including traffic restraint, congestion pricing or public transport priority.
Controlled Motorways use active traffic management to automatically regulate traffic speed limits in real-time in response to prevailing traffic levels on the motorway. It has delivered significant benefits. Drivers perceived that the steady flow of traffic at 50 mph (80 km/hour) resulted in overall time savings in comparison with the stop-start of motorways on which people drive at speeds varying from 30 mph to 90 mph (50 – 145 km/hour). (Case Study: M42 Active Traffic Management)