Report: Smart tech can improve transportation across the board

Posted on October 6, 2010

A new report, "Smart Mobility for a 21st Century America," shows why improving efficiency through technology is critical as U.S. population grows and ages, budgets tighten and consumer preferences shift. The report was co-authored by Transportation for America, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) and the University of Michigan SMART Initiative.

With President Obama's support for a $50 billion down payment for infrastructure and the real prospect that Congress will move forward on a comprehensive, multi-year transportation bill in the upcoming session, the paper makes the case for investing in technology and innovation to help solve the nation's most critical transportation problems.

The new report was released in conjunction with the IBM Smarter Transportation Virtual Forum, which brought together experts from across the public sector, private industry and academia to discuss urban mobility and the growing need for technology solutions to the nation's transportation, economic and environmental challenges.

"We have a unique opportunity to shape the direction of transportation policy for years to come, which is why this report is so important," said Transportation for America Director James Corless. "We can harness technology and tap America's creative potential to get a better bang for our buck and ensure the transportation options Americans rely on are available and affordable in the coming decades."

While improvements to vehicles and cleaner fuels are the most talked-about technological innovations, many smart technologies are being deployed to improve system efficiency and reduce travel delays, provide more convenient access to transportation alternatives, and even customize routes based on real-time traffic conditions and individual travel preferences. The paper groups these innovations into five categories:

  • Making transportation systems more efficient and cost-effective.
  • Providing more travel options and multimodal connectivity.
  • Providing travelers with real-time, accurate transportation system information.
  • Making pricing and payments more convenient and efficient.
  • Avoiding unnecessary trips and time wasted in traffic.

The report contains a series of case studies that demonstrate how these technologies have already been applied to real-world transportation challenges and offers policy recommendations as Congress and the Obama Administration consider a comprehensive transportation bill. These include providing incentives and dedicated funding for states and regions to adopt smart technology solutions to make system more efficient, offering competitive grants to stimulate innovation, and having the federal government play a role in disseminating the latest research and best practices.


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