As the Baby Boomer generation nears retirement age, it is essential for America to consider smarter alternatives for mobility. In 2007, it was estimated that there were 31 million licensed drivers over the age of 65, and with this demographic expected to expand vastly by 2030, around 25 percent of all drivers will be in the 65+ age group. Therefore, as our population ages, and budgets shrink, it is important to make better use of technological resources that can increase mobility efficiency. With this in mind, Transportation for America, ITS America, the Association for Commuter Transportation and the University of Michigan’s SMART Initiative, organized this white paper to uncover strategies for using existing and emerging technologies that can cut costs, improve efficiency, and expand convenience and safety, amongst other things.
Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) are “integrated information, telecommunications and computer-based technologies used to make infrastructure and vehicles safer, smarter, and interconnected.” Linking multiple options of travel, offering real-time information on arrival and departure times, providing incentives to travel at different times of day, and allowing for streamlined ways to pay for it all, are just a few of the ITS investments that leaders and planners are taking, and should continue to take.
This paper focuses on innovative technology and strategies that fall into five main categories, including increased efficiency, travel options, better information, pricing and payments, and trip reduction. Based on the strategies, below are some highlighted case studies:
- Yellowstone LINX Cooperative: Connects transportation providers in 27 rural counties in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana by using innovative technologies, such as a new website with central ticketing and trip planning information, to market services through one integrated system.
- SmartBus Project: A Chattanooga transit agency that has made technology a central component of their organization by implementing a new operations management software to demand response scheduling and dispatch, connecting to agency vehicles by cell phone and wireless public Internet access on buses, and executing automatic passenger counters, amongst other things.
- Managed Lanes with Peak-Period Transit Discounts: Minnesota is utilizing a suite of intelligent transportation approaches to relieve congestion on major highways, including real-time traffic and transit information, transit signal priority, and guidance mechanisms for shoulder-running buses.
How to Use
This paper is especially interesting for local planners and leaders looking to link technology and mobility to increase efficiency, affordability and accessibility. By simply reading the information provided, and taking a look at the case studies, planners and leaders will uncover ideas that can and should be implemented to intelligently strengthen mobility options in their local communities, while reducing trips by bringing neighborhood amenities closer together, improving safety, and encouraging more physically active communities, at the same time.
View full report: Smart Mobility for a 21st Century America (PDF – 1.3 MB)