What Are Intelligent Transportation Systems?

What Are Intelligent Transportation Systems?

Although both customers and employees alike tend to notice the obvious and prominent features of a transport system, such as the look and feel of the vehicles, sometimes it’s the invisible things that make all the difference. Even the newest or best-looking vehicle relies on myriad other elements in order to travel its routes safely and on-time, which would be incredibly challenging without a good transportation management solution.

Whereas transport and transit systems of not that long ago relied primarily on human employees using paper, radios, and telephones for communication, alongside manually-created schedules and reporting, the advent of affordable and efficient software and hardware solutions have given rise to so-called ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’ systems. And it is these intelligent transportation systems that allow for transit, paratransit, and transport agencies to function effectively and to better dispatch vehicles in response to demand.

Intelligent transportation systems, or ITS, serve as the digital backbone of a successful transit service agency by tying together all of the various inputs (rider demands, available vehicles, routes, current positions of vehicles, etc.) and producing dynamic outputs (schedules, routing assignments, etc.). The actual implementation of ITS components can vary by the application, but may include vehicle sensors, on-board GPS mapping and display, and other hardware, combined with a software solution that integrates that vehicle and route data with both the static demands and real-time changes.

With an effective transportation management software solution in place, transit agencies can optimize their operations, minimize downtime, and increase productivity through better route scheduling and dispatching, while providing accurate and up-to-the-moment data to managers, dispatchers, and customer service personnel. When combined with a Mobile Data Tablet (MDT) on the dashboard of the vehicles, drivers and directors alike can benefit from real-time location tracking and near-instant communication, as well as from improvements based on the monitoring and analysis of routes, vehicles, and driver behavior.

Transit software can also affect ridership, as customers who receive a high level of service and great on-time performance are likely to report better customer satisfaction, and to continue to use the service, than those whose experience is one filled with late arrivals and departures and wrong turns. With vehicle location systems and GPS tracking, along with route-mapping software, drivers can navigate with turn-by-turn voice directions, which helps with not only accuracy, but also with safety.

In addition to helping improve real-time performance and scheduling, an integrated state-of-the-art routing & scheduling software system can also be used to analyze trip, route, and driver data in order to further optimize future performance, adjust to changing demands, and forecast for better short- and long-term results. As with many other aspects of business in general, it’s only possible to manage what is measured, so having access to the ability to measure and analyze past performance, as well as respond to changes in the ridership and to dynamically adjust routes and services based on that information, can make all the difference to both transit agencies and their ridership.

Although an intelligent transportation system includes more than just transit route and scheduling solutions, the transit management software is one of the key elements of a successful transit service company.

Integrating Technology Into Transit Operations