An Intelligent Transportation System, or ITS, is part of the transportation tool kit to better manage the transportation system. ITS uses advanced technology and information to improve mobility and productivity and enhance safety on the transportation system.
It uses real time information to integrate and manage conventional transportation system components such as roads, transit, ramp meters, traffic signals, and managing incidents for more efficient operations and performance.
- Alert motorists, commercial vehicles, and transit operators of congestion by collecting, processing, and disseminating real-time information.
- Provide real-time transit arrival and departure information to passengers allowing them to time their departure from work or home to the transit stop.
- Reduce corridor congestion by rapidly detecting and responding to traffic incidents.
- Reduce travel times, stops and delays by dynamically adjusting traffic signals in response to changing traffic conditions across jurisdictional boundaries and roadway types.
In the past, it was generally accepted that we could meet the demand for mobility by building more highways and bridges and adding more lanes to roads and streets in our cities. Today, as many areas of the country have built out the road system and pressure exists to curtail sprawl, we must consider new ways of managing traffic. ITS provides new tools to compliment traditional transportation thinking and the approach is catching on worldwide. Deployment of ITS tools and strategies, seen as the next major evolutionary stage of surface transportation, is expected to be the focus of major metropolitan area implementation efforts early in this century, much like the highway system program was the focus of the last 60 years. ITS is no longer an alternative or option in dealing with congestion and increasing highway travel. It is one of the most cost effective ways to obtain a more efficient transportation system without the need to add more lanes and build more highways.
The Vancouver Area Smart Trek Program, or VAST, is a new Intelligent Transportation System initiative for the region developed as a cooperative effort by public transportation agencies in Clark County (the Cities of Vancouver and Camas, Clark County, the Washington State Department of Transportation Southwest Region, the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, the Port of Vancouver and C-TRAN) to implement a 20-year Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Plan.
The purpose of the VAST Plan is to:
- Identify regional transportation problems and needs
- Identify potential ITS solutions
- Coordinate both current and future ITS initiatives
- Foster interagency cooperation and coordination
- Provide a program which allows the region to deploy ITS projects in a systematic manner.
The VAST Program consists of a long term ITS vision and plan for the Clark County region. The development of this vision consisted of several key activities: an inventory of the existing transportation system, a needs assessment, an evaluation of ITS strategies that might be appropriate for the Vancouver region, the definition of a VAST system architecture, the identification of a set of ITS initiatives and the development of an Implementation Plan. A detailed description of the VAST program, the ITS initiatives, and the twenty year implementation plan is contained in the Executive Summary (pdf)
It is made up of seven key initiatives around which the VAST Plan has been developed:
Communications Infrastructure - Communications infrastructure is the backbone for all ITS deployment.
Traveler Information - Traveler information provides travelers with the ability to make an intelligent choice regarding mode, route and travel time. It uses static and realtime information
Incident Management - The freeway and arterial incident management plan covers operation of any function, device or system that is dedicated to the response to or monitoring of incidents on arterials and freeways.
Transportation Management - The freeway and arterial transportation management plan covers the operation of all functions, devices and systems installed or developed for managing freeways and arterials.
Traffic Signal System - The existing traffic signal systems in the Vancouver area, while functional, will not continue to meet the growing needs of the signal system operators and local residents.
Transit Priority - Public transit plays an important role in passenger transportation in Clark County. The C-TRAN bus system carries over six million passengers per year on 29 routes. Giving priority for buses at traffic signals can make transit more attractive to travelers by helping make bus travel times shorter and more consistent.
Transit Operation and Management - The two key components of transit operation and management are: (1) transit traveler information systems and (2) transit agency operations and management. Transit traveler information systems can deliver real-time bus arrival information to transit patrons using changeable message signs, the internet and other communication devices. Transit operation and management tools use advanced technology to help transit providers increase efficiency and improve quality of service provided to the public.