Intelligent Transport System Design Act

Intelligent Transport System Design Act

The Intelligent Transport System Design Act was established by the Federal Surface Transportation Planning Act (FSTPA). This Act set up a program for federally authorized transport improvement agencies to research, test, and administer intelligent transportation systems. It also set up the National Advanced Transportation Technology Program (NATA), responsible for the N Transit Smart Growth Model. The intelligent transportation system concept is to consider current road and rail traffic planning practices and future traffic projections to improve traffic congestion and driving conditions.

As outlined in the Act, then the Transit system will seek to “collaboratively develop the design of transportation systems and infrastructure that make the most efficient use of available resources.” These systems will be developed based on the “effects of increasing population, improvements in fuel economy, improvements in air quality, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and improvements in management.” The Act further clarifies that the system’s objectives “should” include the reduction of congestion, increased reliability, environmental awareness, improved safety, improved mobility, and cost savings. The Act also requires Transit agencies to solicit and obtain public input, issue reports, and report to Congress on their progress in meeting these objectives. Public input and report issuance are required regardless of whether the agency considers new technology or changes to an existing system. Transit has indicated that they intend to continue to seek input from the public and issue more reports as the years go by.

There have been many concerns expressed with the operational problems that could arise from such a system. If there were a failure in the transponder, there could be a problem with the operator or signal controller, both of which could cause a delay in getting traffic moving. There would be a loss in customer service due to a system breakdown and an increase in vehicle repairs. Some people argue that if such a system was properly installed, it might improve fuel economy and reduce emissions because of better signal timing. These are all valid issues, but the more important one remains whether an intelligent transport system is truly needed.

Currently, the law does not require any Intelligent Transport System design, so the onus is upon the manufacturers to prove that such a system would indeed be safer, more efficient, and less costly. The system has several advantages, and the ACT and regulations in place will see many further alterations and development to better the transport system design.