Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by ITS Focus (IT 178)



  One of the Government's key commitments is to develop an integrated transport policy and its intentions were spelt out in the Transport White Paper "A new deal for transport: better for everyone" published in July 1998.

  The purpose of this submission is to draw specific attention to how Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) might contribute to delivering that policy and identify what actions are required if we are to fully exploit its potential.


  The White Paper commits the Government to making the fullest possible use of new technologies to deliver the "New Deal for transport". It recognises that developments in information technology will produce more reliable and comprehensive information to help public transport users and motorists plan their journeys and that technology can also help to make transport safer.

  Recently announced initiatives such as the Highways Agency's Traffic Control Centre(s) and the further development of road pricing technology with trials in Scotland and England are examples of the Governments commitment.

  The European Union's strategy and framework for the deployment of technology ("Community Strategy and Framework for the Deployment of Road Transport Telematics in Europe") recognises that ITS will:

    —  benefit individual citizens by making driving safer and easier with fewer delays;

    —  provide logistical and management support to transport service providers and fleet managers;

    —  allow highway authorities to make more efficient use of the infrastructure;

    —  give policy makers an alternative to road building; and

    —  have a positive effect on the environment by encouraging the use of public transport.

  The Government has stated that the European strategy is broadly consistent with UK's current activities and concerns.


  The range of services that can be made available through the application of ITS facilities include:

    —  information services both pre and in-trip;

    —  route guidance and navigation;

    —  traffic management and control;

    —  public transport enhancement;

    —  electronic financial transactions;

    —  commercial vehicle management and safety;

    —  vehicle safety systems;

    —  emergency vehicle management;

    —  facilities management.

  It is evident that ITS based services can make a significant contribution to the wider aims of integration, the environment and the economy and a major contribution to the network based aims of accessibility and safety.

  In-trip information can potentially make a major contribution to increased efficiency and accessibility of both public transport and the wider road network. It is delivered, among other methods via on-street and on-station information kiosks containing computer terminals, and on-line information at bus stops. It can also be delivered via in-vehicle radios (e.g., Radio Data System—Traffic Message Channel—RDS-TMC), in vehicle screens and voice-over. Pre-trip information can also make a major contribution to integration by providing displays of on-line information about bus/train departures in the home or work place.

  Route Guidance can make a major contribution to efficiency and accessibility via the provision of in-vehicle navigation systems of two main types:

    —  a digital map of the area through which the vehicle is travelling displayed on a small screen with the position of the vehicle located;

    —  arrows, diagrams and words displayed on a screen, with voice over, giving route guidance at each junction.

  The second of these has considerable safety advantages over the first.

  Traffic Management Systems potentially make a major contribution to efficiency, and accessibility as well as significantly contributing to safety, by the use of Automatic Incident Detection which alerts the Emergency Services instantly to accidents, etc., on main highways and enables them to clear them more quickly. This is even more effective if linked to on-line information provisions to drivers via Variable Message Signs (VMS) and in-vehicle systems.

  Public Transport Enhancement—The value of the provision of real time information in conjunction with other quality bus initiatives has been demonstrated in London (Countdown), Southampton (Stopwatch), Glasgow and other cities: evidence of resulting increased bus patronage is emerging. New real time portable electronic travel guides are seen as one way to promote public transport as a seamless journey. Smartcard ticketing will also help to make journeys by public transport easier to undertake.

  Electronic Financial Transaction—Smartcards can be automatically debited within an electronic tolling or congestion charging system or for the debiting of fares on public transport or by drivers booking a parking space at their destination from within their vehicle during the journey. The use of smartcards—in particular contact less smartcards will make a significant contribution to the integration of transport systems (enabling easy use of car, train and bus in one journey, for example) and efficiency. Once set up, they will be economical to run and will enable a larger volume of transactions to be handled in a short space of time.

  Commercial Vehicle Management—Intelligent Transport Systems in the form of Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) and emergency call systems enable fleet managers to monitor the position of their entire fleet on a computer screen: the emergency call systems, in particular, make a major contribution to safety. The AVL systems also enable fleets to be managed more efficiency. If the vehicles are fitted with on-line driver information systems they can avoid traffic jams and enable goods to be delivered on time which is an important requirement particularly where a Just-in-Time delivery service is in operation.

  Vehicle Safety—Driver Assistance Systems currently being developed (e.g., those that monitor driver fatigue and use head-up displays to help in monitoring the vehicle) will make a major contribution to safety as will Collision Avoidance Systems. Systems such as Automatic Intelligent Cruise Control (which monitors a computerised distance from the vehicle in front) will enable motorway capacity to be doubled or possibly trebled.

  Emergency Vehicle Management—Automatic Vehicle Location systems (AVL) together with information systems are being used successfully as management systems for the emergency services thus making a major contribution to efficiency of these services and also improve safety.

  Facilities Management—The use of a variety of ITS systems will enable transport system managers to attain higher levels of control over the networks they operate with consequent improvement in network management performance.


  There is considerable stress in the transport network which is likely to worsen over time. Accidents cost of the order of £14 billion per annum whilst routine congestion costs between £15 billion and £20 billion per annum. Currently, it is estimated that there are an average of 15 major incidents every day on the motorway network involving at least two lane closures and lasting for at least an hour. The total annual cost is over £350 million. In addition, the cost of delays at roadworks can be as high as £100,000 per day on the busiest sections of the motorway network. Even if ITS services were able to reduce these costs by relatively small percentages, the potential savings are significant.

  Some specific examples of the efficiency, safety and environmental benefits of ITS are illustrated below.

Efficiency Benefits

  The five cases outlined below indicate the level of efficiency benefit that can be realised by the deployment of ITS facilities.

  Case 1—Application of SCOOT traffic signal system in Aberdeen produced a 38 per cent reduction in total delay and 32 per cent reduction in the number of congested intervals. The approximate savings are of the order of £4 million per year.

  Case 2—After implementation of a SCOOT system in Toronto significant benefits were gained in terms of improved operational efficiency, reduction in use of resources and enhancement of environmental air quality.

  Case 3—Application of a regional inter-urban Variable Message Sign system in Central Scotland has led to savings per application as shown.

    —  Roadworks on Forth Road Bridge—£85,000

    —  Forth Road Bridge closed to high sided vehicles—£5,000

  In an eight month period savings in vehicle operating costs and driver time amounted to over £200,000.

  Case 4—Efficiency has been gained by the introduction of an Automatic Vehicle Location System (produced by Terrafix of Stoke on Trent) to several ambulance fleets. Whereas the Manchester Ambulance Service previously achieved 60 per cent of "activations" of its ambulances within three minutes, it now achieves 99 per cent of them. The response of the service has also improved, from 58 per cent within eight minutes to 68 per cent. (The Government target is 50 per cent).

  Case 5—The SCOPE/ROMANSE research and development project in Southampton found that an automatic bus location system allied with passenger information systems (known as STOPWATCH) produced a benefit/cost ratio in excess of two. Time equivalent savings of the order of only two minutes per passenger were required to justify the cost of the new equipment.

Safety Benefits

  ITS has been deployed successfully to bring about safety improvements as indicated by the four cases outlined below.

  Case 1—Injury accidents over a three year period were reduced from 11 to 4 by the use of an intelligent signing system at the Bramham Interchange (A1/A64) in Yorkshire providing an annual saving of approximately £180,000 per year which meant that the entire cost of the system was paid in two years.

  Case 2—A hazardous goods monitoring and control system was evaluated within the European FRAME research project. It was found that over £1 million of benefits would accrue if 3,000 vehicles were fitted with the device. The benefits would be in the form of a reduction in the consequence of hazardous goods related accidents.

  Case 3—The VRU-TOO research project investigated improved infra-red detection of persons using pedestrian crossings. Results indicated significant reductions of up to 50 per cent in the level of pedestrian accidents at signalised crossings and a 10 per cent reduction in the number of children crossing against a red man signal.

  Case 4—Figures for the first three years of the Highways Agency's West London Speed Camera Demonstration Project show:

    —  fatal accidents are down 70 per cent from 62 to 19;

    —  serious accidents are down 28 per cent from 666 to 483;

    —  slight accidents are down 8 per cent from 3,074 to 2,832;

    —  the value of total accidents savings is estimated at £20 million per year.

Environmental Benefits

  An environmental assessment of the impact of VMS has been undertaken as part of the evaluation of the National Driver Information Control Systems (NADICS) in Scotland. Overall fuel consumption and vehicle missions were used as indicators, and a network-wide evaluation model was used to evaluate the impact of VMS on incidents.


The impacts of VMS on fuel consumption and vehicle emissions for major incidents related to the closure of the Forth Road Bridge traffic indicate savings of 5-10 per cent in fuel consumption and 5 per cent savings in the emission of hydro carbons and nitrous-oxide. These savings are small but significant.


  In order to realise the potential that current and future ITS developments can have on the transport system the following actions will be required:

    —  the setting up of an ITS programme unit within DETR/Highways Agency that would be guided by a permanent inter-Departmental ITS Strategy Group;

    —  the establishment of a public/private task group to determine a way of taking forward specific ITS policy and formulate and publish a National ITS strategy;

    —  a public/private task group be set up, in parallel, to consider a new approach to standards and specification development as well as the adoption of a system architecture;

    —  the establishment of a national research programme and research priorities within the context of both the European 5th Framework research programme and a national research programme;

    —  the establishment of a clearly defined programme of showcase projects with appropriate funding; and

    —  the Government (DETR and DTI) should be closely involved in the preparation of the bid to host the ITS World Congress in the UK (Europe) in 2003.


  It is important that those responsible for implementing the new transport policy recognise the value that the range of ITS developments can have in bringing about a more integrated, safer, sustainable and operationally more efficient transport systems. The UK can become a world leader in this field by combining the public and private sectors into one team to exploit the potential ITS has to offer.

Richard J Brown

Chairman of Task Force G of ITS Focus

December 1998

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