ITS Program Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

CONTENTS

1. General
2. Meeting Participants
3. Committee Members Absent
4. Meeting Agenda
5. Summary of Proceedings
a. Opening Remarks
b. New Administration Transition Issues and News
c. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
d. ITS Program Strategic Plan
e. Committee’s Proposed New ITS Program Goal
f. Transportation Legislation Reauthorization
g. ITS America Annual Meeting
h. IntelliDrive SM Program Principles
i. U.S. DOT ITS Program Governance
j. Summary and Wrap Up

General

  • A meeting of the ITS Program Advisory Committee (ITSPAC) was held April 6, 2009, by teleconference/Web conference, from the U.S. DOT Conference Center.
  • Pursuant to Public Law 92-463, the meeting was open to the public, and all documents made available to or prepared for or by the ITSPAC for the meeting are available for public inspection and copying in the ITSPAC Website at http://www.its.dot.gov/itspac/index.htm.
  • These minutes provide a summary of the meeting proceedings. The detailed meeting transcript is available in the ITSPAC Website at http://www.its.dot.gov/itspac/index.htm.

Meeting Participants

ITSPAC Members

Mr. Scott Belcher, ITS America
Mr. Robert Denaro, NAVTEQ Corporation (Committee Vice Chairman)
Ms. Ann Flemer, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Oakland, California
Mr. Alfred Foxx, Baltimore City Department of Transportation
Mr. Randell Iwasaki, California Department of Transportation
Mr. Thomas Lambert, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas
Dr. Adrian Lund, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Mr. Michael Replogle, Environmental Defense Fund
Dr. Joseph Sussman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (ITSPAC Committee Chairman)
Mr. Greer Woodruff, J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc.

Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), U.S. Department of Transportation

Ms. Shelley Row, Director
Mr. John Augustine, Deputy Director
Mr. Stephen Glasscock, Staff Assistant (ITSPAC Designated Federal Official)

Others Present for All or a Portion of the Meeting

Mr. Harmony Allen, International Road Federation
Mr. Chuck Gault, Wind River
Mr. Ray Heer, Alderson Court Reporting
Mr. Timothy O’Leary, Peek Traffic Corporation
Mr. Andy Palanisamy, Citizant
Ms. Amy Polk, Citizant
Mr. Bruce Schopp, National Electrical Manufacturers Association
Ms. Meredith Singer, IBM
Mr. Robert Monniere, RITA Chief Counsel’s Office
Mr. Craig Updike, National Electrical Manufacturers Association
Mr. Carlos Vélez, Citizant
Mr. Michael Volling, Sensys Networks

Committee Members Absent

Mr. Steve Albert, Western Transportation Institute
Dr. Kenneth Button, George Mason University School of Public Policy
Mr. John Inglish, Utah Transit Authority
Mr. Bryan Mistele, INRIX
Dr. Granger Morgan, Carnegie Mellon University
Ms. Iris Weinshall, City University of New York
Mr. John Worthington, TransCore

Meeting Agenda

  • Opening Remarks
  • New Administration Transition Issues and News
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • ITS Program Strategic Plan
  • Committee’s Proposed New ITS Program Goal
  • Transportation Legislation Reauthorization
  • ITS America Annual Meeting
  • IntelliDrive SM Program Principles
  • U.S. DOT ITS Program Governance
  • Summary and Wrap Up

Summary of Proceedings

Opening Remarks

The committee chairman, Dr. Joe Sussman, welcomed attendees and noted many changes since the previous ITSPAC meeting. The ITS Joint JPO has made much progress on many of its initiatives, a new Presidential administration has moved in, and the economy has worsened.

Dr. Sussman reviewed the agenda, which included a discussion on developing an ITSPAC position on SAFETEA-LU reauthorization and a preview of the ITS America 2009 Annual Meeting in June in Washington, D.C. by Scott Belcher.

Dr. Sussman noted that even though this meeting is being conducted via teleconference/Web conference, it is still an official meeting of the ITSPAC and, therefore, FACA (Federal Advisory Committee Act) rules apply. For example, the meeting is open to the public at each site from which ITSPAC members are calling in.

Dr. Sussman turned the meeting over to Ms. Row for the presentation of several briefings.

Ms. Row introduced Mr. Robert Monniere, RITA Acting Chief Counsel, to make a brief presentation about ethics rules that govern the ITSPAC. He urged ITSPAC members who have any questions to contact him at 202-366-5498.

Mr. Monniere noted that it is imperative that the ITSPAC avoid both conflicts of interest and any appearance of conflicts of interest. He noted that conflicts of interest and the appearance thereof are very "fact dependent," i.e., it is relatively easy to eliminate them by small changes to the situation. He gave the example that a conflict of interest or appearance thereof could arise if the agencies or companies that employ ITSPAC members have business with U.S. DOT. However, this problem is easily solved by "setting up a firewall;" i.e., making sure that the ITSPAC member is not directly involved in any contract negotiations with U.S. DOT.

Mr. Monniere urged ITSPAC members to contact him outside of the meeting with any questions related to their specific circumstances.

Dr. Sussman inquired whether or not it would be appropriate for him to inquire at the meeting, or whether he should contact Mr. Monniere “off line,” concerning his own situation as an MIT professor and MIT’s status as a U.S. DOT University Transportation Center, managed by RITA. Mr. Monniere replied that for specific situations it would be better to contact him directly.

Ms. Row stressed that Mr. Monniere has been an excellent resource to the ITSPAC, and that members should not hesitate to contact him with questions. She added that U.S. DOT was aware at the time many of the ITSPAC members were selected that many of them have some kind of contractual relationship with the Department, and that the Department had already taken some measures in that regard, but that if anything changes or if there are any situations any of the members are uncomfortable with, they shouldn’t hesitate to contact Mr. Monniere.

New Administration Transition Issues and News

Ms. Row noted two nominees for U.S. DOT administrators. Peter Appel has been nominated for RITA Administrator and Victor Mendez has been nominated for Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Administrator. Mr. Appel has 20 years of experience in transportation, including a Master’s degree in transportation from MIT, and employment with Amtrak, the FAA, and the freight industry. Mr. Mendez is well known, having been Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation and past president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

Dr. Sussman noted that it is an encouraging sign that the RITA Administrator nomination is among the first for U.S. DOT agency heads. Usually, the RITA Administrator position is among the last to be filled.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Ms. Row highlighted portions of an FHWA presentation on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), commonly called the "stimulus bill," including an overview of the ARRA objectives, funding, reporting requirements, and the next steps. Because the presentation was prepared by FHWA, the emphasis is on the impact of ARRA on highway transportation.

Ms. Row noted that ITS is part of "other activities" eligible for ARRA funding. In January, the JPO wrote a white paper on how ITS projects fit ARRA funding criteria; i.e., they create jobs, have an environmental benefit, and funds for them can be spent quickly. Ms. Row noted that the white paper was widely distributed. She said that there has been some success using ARRA funds for ITS, but less than what the JPO had hoped for.

Ms. Row also described a $1.5 billion allocation to the Secretary of Transportation for "discretionary programs." Criteria for the kinds of activities that would be eligible for these discretionary funds are still being developed. Ms. Row noted that she had given input to the internal U.S. DOT group developing these criteria.

ARRA is a top priority within U.S. DOT. Much energy within U.S. DOT is going towards allocating funds quickly, while ensuring accountability of how the funds are spent. A high level of scrutiny is expected, so the U.S. DOT is preparing for that scrutiny now.

Dr. Sussman asked about the purpose of the funds, in the sense of deployment versus research and development (R&D) and other such program functions. Mr. Row replied that ARRA is not an R&D program, but intended to get things done on the ground, put people to work in a short period of time – to rebuild infrastructure. The ITS Program received no funds, which all went to State and local agencies.

Mr. Foxx noted that Baltimore has received some ARRA funds, which are being spent on transportation infrastructure, not ITS. However, the ARRA funds free up other funds that can be spent on ITS and other operational improvements, such as signal optimization.

Mr. Woodruff complimented the JPO on the January 2009 white paper, noting that the summaries of ITS technologies were "exceptional." Mr. Woodruff asked about distribution of the white paper.

Ms. Row replied that the white paper was distributed to the National Transportation Operations Coalition (NTOC), an association of transportation-related associations, who then distributed the white paper to their members. She also noted that the JPO posted the white paper on its Website.

Ms. Flemmer said that her organization received the white paper through ITS America. She added that there are many "shovel ready" projects in California eligible for ARRA funding, but meeting all the deadlines required by ARRA will be a challenge.

Dr. Sussman noted that there is a lot of interest at MIT in funding the infrastructure needed for R&D, such as purchasing equipment and developing laboratories.

Ms. Row added that the JPO is currently developing a similar white paper focusing on ITS in work zones because many traditional transportation infrastructure projects will require work zones, opening up the possibility of a role for ITS in ARRA outside of direct ARRA funding.

Mr. Foxx asked about the process for applying for the U.S. DOT Secretary's $1.5 billion in discretionary funds, specifically if "shovel ready" projects not selected in the main ARRA funding program could be eligible. Ms. Row replied that she did not know the particulars of the discretionary funding program yet, but she did know that projects that used technology would be rated more favorably.

Mr. Replogle asked if the JPO was seeking comment from ITSPAC members on the white paper. Mr. Row replied that the white paper has already been distributed and was given to ITSPAC members for informational purposes only. Mr. Replogle said that he wished the white paper had included more ITS technologies with a greater environmental benefit, such as bus rapid transit (BRT), truck weigh-in-motion and bus rider information systems.

ITS Program Strategic Plan

Ms. Row gave an overview of the JPO's extensive strategic planning activities. She reminded ITSPAC members that the group engaged in strategic planning exercises at its first meetings. Among the many reasons why strategic planning is necessary is the fact that many of the JPO's major ITS initiatives will be coming to a close at the end of FY 2009. New initiatives will be needed, as will be a rigorous process for proposing and selecting them. She also noted that high-level appointees within the U.S. DOT will have additional guidance on the future direction of the ITS Program and the JPO will adapt to their guidance.

Ms. Row reviewed the ITS Program mission statement, which was developed by the JPO staff. She noted that the mission statement needs to be updated. Ms. Row also reviewed the ITS Program vision statements, which were developed collectively by the ITSPAC.

Ms. Row reviewed the criteria that will be considered when selecting new ITS initiatives, including an emphasis on multimodalism and selecting a few high-value projects rather than many smaller-scale ones.

Ms. Row mentioned that there currently are two opportunities planned for stakeholder input on the strategic plan. First, the JPO will develop and issue a Request for Information (RFI) in mid-April, asking the ITS community for preliminary project proposals. Second, a day-long workshop for stakeholder input will be held June 4, immediately following the ITS America Annual Meeting.

Dr. Sussman asked when the JPO anticipated completion of the strategic plan. Ms. Row replied that an outline, developed in consultation with the JPO's modal partners, should be ready next week. A prose version should be ready in September, in anticipation of using the strategic plan as a basis for the JPO FY 2010 budget, which begins October 1.

Committee’s Proposed New ITS Program Goal

Dr. Sussman opened an extensive discussion on ITS Program goals by giving a history of the goal development process to date. He said that the JPO had incorporated ITSPAC advice regarding an equity goal, so the ITSPAC can "declare victory" in that effort.

Dr. Sussman summarized two memoranda that the ITSPAC had issued to the JPO. In the first memo, dated May 29, 2008, the ITSPAC suggested adding an additional ITS Program goal of ITS-enabled universal access to the U.S. transportation system, with the proposed goal focus area of conducting research on, and enabling deployment of, means by which all citizens fully can access the mobility and information benefits of the U.S. transportation system. Dr. Sussman added that the committee is concerned about social equity and the digital divide that many scholars speak of -- that with the advent of the Internet and related technologies, disadvantaged populations may have yet another disadvantage; that is, their inability to access information about the transportation system. Dr. Sussman stated that in the second memo, dated October 31, 2008, the ITSPAC repeated its urging of the so-called “digital divide” goal, characterizing the goal in terms of ITS contributing to a sustainable transportation system, noting the three “Es”in the classic definition of “sustainability” -- economic development, environmental improvement, and social equity. The committee, then, views its push for the equity goal as rounding out the sustainability aspect of what ITS could bring to the “transportation table.”

Ms. Row said that the JPO needed advice from the ITSPAC as to whether equity should be a separate goal, or addressed in each of the others. Ms. Row gave specific examples of implementation issues that arise in each of the other goals when considering equity. For example, the safety goal will be addressed in part with in-vehicle devices. Typically, these devices are only for sale on new luxury cars. Should the JPO's role be to sponsor research on development of after-market and retrofitting of these safety-enhancing technologies on older cars? Ms. Row provided additional examples. Dr. Sussman asked if ITSPAC members could be sent the complete list of such examples.

Mr. Replogle said that a benefit of keeping equity as a separate goal is increased visibility and accountability. He noted that he likes linking the environmental and equity goals, which can lead to consideration of environmental justice issues; for example, banning high-emissions trucks from traveling in low-income neighborhoods. He also noted that expanding modal choices improves both the environment and transportation equity, as lower-income people tend to have fewer modal choices.

Dr. Sussman suggested matrixing the goals along two dimensions, with four program goals (safety, mobility, environment and productivity) and two cross-cutting goals (institutional support and equity). He noted a drawback to this approach is reduced visibility for the equity goal.

In the interest of time, Dr. Sussman suggested tabling the equity goal issue for the moment, and that the committee, if the JPO would provide it the specific examples of the application of the equity goal within the other goal areas, would articulate and provide the JPO its thinking offline. Ms. Row agreed to provide the committee a summary of examples, adding that she liked the idea of crosscutting goals.

Mr. Lambert stated that he believed the crosscutting approach is the right approach.

Transportation Legislation Reauthorization

Mr. Denaro initiated a discussion on developing an ITSPAC position on reauthorization of the SAFETEA-LU surface transportation authorizing legislation. Mr. Denaro had earlier sent five questions regarding reauthorization via e-mail to ITSPAC members. The JPO had reviewed written positions on reauthorization made by several dozen transportation-related organizations and summarized these positions in a table, noting each organization's position statements of each of the ITS Program goal areas: safety, mobility, environment, and productivity.

Mr. Lambert asked if the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) had been contacted. Ms. Row replied that the IACP position statement on reauthorization was “coming.” Mr. Foxx noted that the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) was not included in the summary but had issued a position statement on reauthorization. He said that he would send NACTO's position statement to Shelley Row.

Mr. Iwasaki questioned whether or not the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) included mention in its position statements about safety (the summary table indicated that it did not.) Mr. Augustine noted that APTA's reauthorization position statement did mention safety, but not in the context of ITS.

Mr. Denaro expressed surprise at the large number of n/a's on the summary table. Dr. Sussman said that it would have been interesting if the organizations' position statements had been analyzed for their mention of equity.

Ms. Row noted that, as a public agency, the U.S. DOT cannot engage in a substantive discussion with ITSPAC members on the subject of developing an ITSPAC position on reauthorization. However, she said that the JPO would welcome feedback from the ITSPAC on general topics such as high-level principles for reauthorization.

Mr. Denaro turned the discussion to the five questions that he had previously sent to ITSPAC members via e-mail. He started this discussion by asking about the ITS Program focus, which recently has been on research, technology transfer, and evaluation, rather than deployment. Is this the right focus? Mr. Belcher replied that the focus needs to be on both deployment and deployment support activities such as research, technology transfer, and evaluation.

Mr. Denaro then turned the discussion to ITS standards, noting that the ITS JPO is not a standards setting organization. Ms. Row countered that the JPO does, however, have a role in developing standards, as well as the authority to set provisional standards that are still going through the approval process. Dr. Sussman noted that he was initially skeptical about the lengthy timeframes proposed for the development of standards, but now sees that lengthy timeframes are necessary.

Mr. Denaro then asked ITSPAC members about the JPO's role in the technology to support a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax. He noted that Europe is moving "extremely aggressively" towards a VMT tax. Dr. Sussman called a VMT tax the "wave of the future," noting that it is a much more finely tuned way of managing transportation demand. Mr. Lambert agreed that a VMT tax would offer more options for network management than the "blunt instrument" of the current gas tax.

Mr. Lund noted that a VMT tax raises equity issues, adding that in Europe tolling is often used to reduce access to transportation facilities. Mr. Belcher noted that the role of the JPO is to make sure that there is a technology platform to enable VMT, not to be an advocate for this particular type of transportation financing.

ITS America Annual Meeting

Mr. Belcher gave an overview of the ITS America 2009 Annual Meeting, which will be held June 1-3, 2009, at the National Harbor in Maryland, near Washington, D.C., adding that this is a critical time and location, given the national attention being paid to transportation through the stimulus bill. He noted that ITS America is the only national transportation organization that will host an annual meeting in the Washington, D.C. area this summer. U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood has expressed interest in being the keynote speaker, and several members of Congress have expressed interest in attending. ITS America will host a public hearing on the VMT tax in conjunction with the Annual Meeting.

Ms. Row encouraged ITSPAC members to attend the Annual Meeting, noting that a tour of the Exhibit Hall, similar to the tour at the 2009 ITS World Congress in New York City this past November, could likely be arranged. Dr. Sussman said that an e-mail will be sent to ITSPAC members to gauge their interest in attending the ITS America 2009 Annual Meeting and/or a tour of the Exhibit Hall.

IntelliDrive SM Program Principles

Due to time constraints, this topic was not discussed.

U.S. DOT ITS Program Governance

Ms. Row gave a presentation on the effort to develop written documentation of ITS Program governance. She noted that the ITS Program has always been a collaboration among many modal agencies; however, the structure of these multimodal interactions were never documented. Governance documents were being developed for the ITS Strategic Planning Group, which consists of modal agency representatives at the Associate Administrator level, and the ITS Management Council, which consists mainly of modal administrators.

Dr. Sussman asked if the JPO was soliciting comment on the governance documents from ITSPAC members. Ms. Row replied that these documents are being developed internally within U.S. DOT and are almost complete, so they are being presented to the ITSPAC for information purposes only. She said that the documents would be sent to ITSPAC members when they have been finalized through a consensus process, which is expected soon.

Summary and Wrap Up

Dr. Sussman thanked the committee members for taking time out of their business day to participate in the meeting, adding that he believed it was a productive meeting. ITSPAC members discussed possible dates for the next meeting, which will be an in-person meeting. A date in conjunction with the ITS America 2009 Annual Meeting was considered, but was not a popular option since these events tend to be tightly scheduled for attendees such as ITSPAC members. Ms. Row noted that most ITSPAC members’ terms expire July 9, so a meeting date prior to that date would be preferred.

Ms. Row and Dr. Sussman thanked attendees for their time and adjourned the meeting at 4:00 p.m.

We hereby certify, to the best of our knowledge, that the foregoing minutes are accurate and complete.

 

Original Signed By

Shelley Row - Director, ITS Joint Program Office

Original Signed By

Joseph Sussman - Committee Chairman

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