State-of-the-Smart: Maximizing Capacity with Intelligent Transportation Systems

October 11, 2012

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Naveen Lamba

Improving transportation infrastructure means more than building roads and bridges. Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) use technology to maximize the capacity of existing infrastructure to improve traffic flow, decrease delays, and give riders up-to-the-minute system information for a relatively low cost. The Chicago region has several examples of ITS, such as the Chicago Transit Authority’s bus and train trackers and the Illinois Tollway’s I-PASS electronic tolling system. Still, there is tremendous room for growth. This roundtable showcases how cities around the world are proving the real potential of ITS by implementing such technologies as congestion pricing, variable priced parking, and smartphone apps.

Naveen Lamba, of IBM's Smarter Government, Transportation and Public Safety, discusses how technology can improve the current balance between the supply and demand for transportation infrastructure. Lamba showcases how cities in the U.S. and around the world are using ITS to maximize existing infrastructure to improve traffic flow, reduce delays, manage parking, and provide pedestrian access and transit.
 
Steven Mortensen, Integrated Corridor Management Program Manager, Federal Transit Administration (FTA), presents FTA's Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) pilots in Dallas, Texas and San Diego, California. Implementing ITS on a corridor-wide basis—including ramp metering, congestion pricing, signal optimization, transit priority, and traveler information in real time—have enhanced mobility, reliability, and fuel savings and reduced emissions at the three sites. The result is a cost-benefit ratio of 10:1, with more than 1.3 million gallons of fuel and 1.1 million hours of travel time saved annually.
 
Balaji Prabhakar, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford University, presents how he's combining smartphone apps with incentives to encourage people to change their driving and parking behavior and take public transit. Prabhakar has successfully used his apps to implement programs for public agencies and employers in the San Francisco Bay area, India, and Singapore, significantly lowering congestion based on the theory that even a small change in vehicles at a given time can have a big effect on traffic flow. Prabhakar's success led to a $3 million U.S. Dept. of Transportation grant to study the effects of incentives and social interaction on commute and parking patterns.
 
This roundtable is generously sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.
 
Recorded Thursday, October 11, 2012 at the Metropolitan Planning Council.