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Understanding the Benefits and Costs of Intelligent Transport Systems: A Toolkit Approach

Foreword

As transport networks become more congested, and new highway construction recedes as a sustainable long-term solution, there is a growing need to adopt policies that manage demand and make full use of existing assets. Advances in information technology are now such that “Intelligent Transport Systems” (ITS) offer real possibilities for authorities to meet this challenge; by monitoring what is going on, predicting what might happen in the future and providing the means to manage transport proactively on an area-wide basis.

This website contains the Department for Transport’s guidance: “Understanding the benefits and costs of Intelligent Transport Systems: A toolkit approach” . It includes case studies, advice and guidance in the area of monitoring, evaluation and reporting of ITS related schemes and provides specific advice on:

  • the selection of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) tools to meet policy objectives;
  • the benefits & costs of ITS deployment;
  • what others have done to incorporate ITS within transport plans; and
  • lessons learnt from their experience.

The website is aimed at two groups:

  • decision makers to identify strategic goals to help achieve local and national transport objectives, and
  • transport planners who undertake the more technical aspects of a project, fulfilling the strategic requirements of decision makers.

Users of the toolkit are guided through the various modules, with instructions on how the material should be used. Distinct topics are employed to assist in the decision making process. The toolkit approach enables the user to assess the relative merits of a range of tools, both ITS and, to a lesser extent, conventional measures. This website will help authorities assess the business case for investment in ITS and identify how best to use ITS to meet their own, local challenges, and further supports Local Transport Plan (LTP) guidance.

Introduction

Urban Traffic Management and Control. Photo courtesy of AECOM.

The Challenge for Local Authorities.

As transport networks become more congested, and new highway construction recedes as a sustainable long-term solution, there is a growing need to adopt policies that manage demand and make full use of existing assets.

Advances in information technology are now such that "Intelligent Transport Systems" (ITS) offer real possibilities for authorities to meet this challenge: by monitoring what is going on, predicting what might happen in the future and providing the means to manage transport proactively and on an area-wide basis. Specifically they can assist in delivering responsibilities placed on highway authorities under the Traffic Management Act in terms of both traffic and asset management.

Importantly, ITS can also facilitate the delivery of a wide range of policy objectives, beyond those directly associated with transport, bringing significant benefits to transport users and those who live and work within the area.

They can help protect the natural Environment and the historic fabric of our towns and cities, by reducing the adverse effects of otherwise unsustainable traffic growth. They can improve Access to workplaces, facilities and services for all, and ensure the Safety of motorists, vulnerable road users and pedestrians. Social Inclusion is fostered, by helping to meet the transport needs of all social groups, including rural residents and they can help promote a more Efficient and sustainable, Integrated transport system.

Parking Guidance. Photo courtesy of AECOM.

Why Implement ITS?

ITS systems have an important role to play in delivering policy objectives, including tackling casualty reduction, traffic congestion and pollution, as well as improving accessibility, providing integrated transport solutions and making best use of existing infrastructure.

They can deliver noticeable economic benefits through reduced journey times and increased journey time reliability, as well as improvements in safety and reductions in pollution.

They increase the economic viability and vitality of rural and urban areas alike, making them attractive areas for future inward investment.

ITS can help:

  • reduce the use of the private car, by supporting the offer of genuine alternatives;
  • provide cost effective travel choices for all;
  • improve transport services to areas with poor access; and
  • foster economic regeneration without increasing the level of car traffic.

What are the Benefits of Using ITS?

ITS can:

  • Make travel more efficient (safer, less polluting, cheaper, better informed travel);
    A study in Southampton found that a Parking Guidance and Information system reduced the average time spent searching for a space by 50%.
  • Help achieve 'Best Value' as a result of greater information gathering and improved decision-making;
  • Simplify public transport use by providing accurate real time information about services;
    90% of users of the Leicester Star Trak system consider the electronic displays either useful or very useful.
  • Reduce the effects of pollution from vehicles by better traffic management;
    The London Congestion Charge Scheme has resulted in a 21% reduction in congestion within the original charging zone comparing to pre-charge levels (70,000 fewer cars a day). Traffic entering the Western Extension has fallen by 14% (30,000 fewer cars a day).
    Access control schemes in Europe resulted in reduction in traffic delay of up to 18% with associated reductions in emissions.
  • Reduce the number of accidents by providing drivers with more information about conditions on the roads they are using;
  • Help drivers find the best route to their destination, and change that route if major incidents occur on it;
    The Cleopatra project in London found that 58% of respondents would immediately respond to VMS congestion warnings, of which 83% would reschedule their journey and 6% would change modes.
  • Improve the security of public transport passengers and staff by providing extra communications, CCTV and better information;
  • Improve integration between different traffic management systems, through the use of a UTMC common database.

Working with Neighbouring Authorities

ITS, especially when deployed in an integrated fashion, offer a new level of strategic capability for authorities to meet local and national policy objectives.

Increasing emphasis in the integration of different tools and the delivery of new and enhanced services across geographic and institutional boundaries enables information sharing between tools and between authorities, with maximum benefit being derived from the investment made.

Integrated systems and information sharing give:

  • Better coordination from area-wide strategies;
  • Lower unit equipment and operating costs;
  • Better communication between authorities and coordination of actions; and
  • Partnerships, which can help reduce costs.

The Next Steps

The Toolkit associated with this overview provides supplementary information on how to develop a cohesive package of investment and the ITS tools to deliver maximum benefit for minimum cost. For further information, please write to:

Future Vehicle Technologies
Transport Technology and Standards Division
Department for Transport
Zone 2/04
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DR

The Toolkit provides further information on what others have done and have learnt from their experience of deploying and operating ITS.

Use of the Toolkit will help authorities identify how best to use ITS to meet their own, local challenge.