ITS JPO Home | ResearchUpdated October 27, 2015 2:31 PM

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Mode-Specific Research
ITS Maritime Applications


ITS Maritime Applications are transportation technologies applied within intermodal freight transfers between port, Marine highway, truck, and rail. More than 90% of the nation's imported and exported goods move by water and over one billion tons of domestic freight travels annually on America's marine highways. The vision for the ITS Maritime Applications research is to investigate the range of ITS applications that can provide greater operational efficiencies within the maritime environment.

Maritime Photo

Research Goals

The research goals of the ITS Maritime Applications research program are to:

  • Identify effective ITS applications for the maritime transportation environment
  • Pilot and evaluate a range of maritime ITS applications and capture their benefits

Research Approach

Using waterborne transportation for moving freight can help mitigate landside congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and conserve energy. Despite these benefits, inefficiencies within the first and last travel legs of freight delivery can make waterborne transportation cost prohibitive.

Effective application of ITS technologies can lead to greater resource efficiencies and increased system performance.  Some examples of ITS applications include:

  • Optimized scheduling for waterborne freight arrival and transit, which increases system capacity and reduces fuel consumption by minimizing delays
  • Providing real-time weather information to improve safety operations for vessels
  • Coordinating the scheduling of truck and container moves to reduce wasted trips and unnecessary empty containers moves

The ITS maritime technology research will be conducted in two phases:

  • The first phase will begin with a series of stakeholder workshops that focus on two outcomes: (1) identifying opportunities for increased efficiency and lowering the cost of intermodal maritime services, and (2) determining the most appropriate ITS application(s) to meet the objectives.

The results of this first phase of research is expected to result in:

  • Identification of ITS applications that are specific to Marine Highway services and that will minimize waste and optimize resource utilization in the intermodal transfer during the first and last leg of freight deliveries.
  • Describe performance measures for evaluating the applications' efficiencies and public benefit.
  • Quantify public benefits of increased Marine Highway utilization.

Phase two research will focus on deploying selected pilot projects. The research will establish a baseline for service and determine potential efficiencies and cost savings. Performance measurement evaluations will be conducted to test and validate the efficiencies and benefits produced from these applications. Upon project completion, the Maritime Administration and the ITS Program will determine whether to deploy additional ITS deployments and develop best practices for fleet-wide dissemination.

Research Outcomes

To develop definitive insight into whether ITS applications can provide increased efficiencies and lower costs for waterborne freight arrival and transit.


James Pol
Team Lead, Program Management and Evaluation
ITS Joint Program Office
Research and Innovative Technology Administration
(202) 366-4374

Noel Comeaux
Transportation Industry Analyst
Office of Marine Highways and Passenger Services
Maritime Administration
(202) 366-5527


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