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An Attack on Traffic Congestion

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is joining with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in a test of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology aimed at reducing traffic congestion. The $12.4 million public-private partnership is part of DOT's SafeTrip-21 initiative established to “reduce gridlock and traffic-related fatalities and injuries on America's roadways,” according to the agency. The ITS technology to be tested includes Global Positioning System (GPS)-equipped cellular telephones that will be used by as many as 10,000 volunteer commuters and transit vehicles. They will transmit data from roads in a 200-mile radius within the San Francisco Bay area to traffic management centers.

Data gathered by these resources will be used to help Bay Area commuters make smart travel choices to avoid congestion. The DOT explains that technologies will be merged to create a “consumer friendly platform” that will offer trip planning and travel information; safety advisories; on-board displays of commuter rail and transit bus connections; electronic toll collection, parking reservations and payment services. Development of a Vehicle Infrastructure Integration system utilizing WiFi and Dedicated Short Range Communications is part of the program.

Paul Brubaker, administrator of DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), claims that, “America has the ability — right now — to radically change our driving experience using innovations that exist today. As one of the communities selected last August to participate in the Department's Urban Partnership program, San Francisco already has shown its commitment to using innovative approaches to reduce traffic congestion. Now, the Bay Area will become the site of one of the world's largest field-tests of Intelligent Transportation Systems technology.”

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