GAO finds faults in Transportation's automated traffic management system

Slow implementation of the Transportation Department's computerized congestion management system has hindered the program's effectiveness, a new Government Accountability Office report said.

The department's Intelligent Transportation System can save lives and time, and improve the environment, but it has not been implemented properly, according to the report released today.

'Studies show that when implemented properly, ITS technologies can reduce congestion, as well as lead to other benefits such as improved safety and reduced emissions harmful to the environment,' the report said. 'However, Transportation agencies have been slow to adopt and deploy ITS technologies, facing many barriers on the way.'

The department initiated ITS in the mid-1990s as an intelligent transportation infrastructure that would reduce traffic congestion across the country. The system relies on devices that handle traffic light management, freeway ramp meters, transit management and cargo tracking.

But Transportation's goals and measures for the system 'have limitations and fall short of capturing ITS' impact on congestion,' the GAO report said.

In particular, Transportation 'does not have clear information on the extent to which areas have deployed ITS to meet particular needs, nor does it have clear information on the operating status of ITS where it has been deployed,' the report said. 'Limitations of DOT's efforts in measuring the deployment of ITS technologies, among other things, have reduced its ability to help state and local governments invest strategically in ITS.'

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