Acting FHWA Administrator - Rick Capka

12th ITS World Congress on Intelligent Transportation
Opening Plenary Session, November 7, 2005
Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco, California

I want to be very clear.

The Bush Administration views ITS as critical to saving lives and improving transportation mobility. The U.S. is a strong supporter of ITS.

This is an exciting time for us in the U.S. highway community. Major multi-year surface transportation legislation was passed and signed by President Bush last August. The Act -- SAFETEA-LU -- means record investment in highways, safety and transit. We have important policy changes that are already helping us tackle congestion.

The legislation also provides strong funding for the ITS Program -- it allows us to expand existing programs and develop new programs and policies that will significantly improve system management and operations.


Key among the new programs:

  • A real-time management information network and nationwide deployment of 511 traveler information services.

Thanks to efforts by the 511 Coalition led by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Public Transit Association, and ITS America, we have more than 20 operational systems in place.

By the end of 2006, we expect that more than 50 per cent of our nation’s population will have access to 511. Travelers will have up-to-the minute information on traffic plus help choosing alternate routes to avoid congestion.

I’ll be in Florida next week to help launch their new statewide 511 service.

  • Another key program -- An expanded tolling effort ranging from the mainstreaming of High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes to new managed lane programs. These programs will foster public-private partnerships, provide congestion relief, and spur applications of ITS technology.

New policies include:

  • A requirement for explicit consideration of system management and operations strategies as part of the transportation planning process in metropolitan areas. This cements ITS into the planning process.
  • New innovative financing rules encourage more public private partnerships and better taps the expertise of the private sector. We'll complete needed projects sooner. And those projects will, of course, consider ITS from the first planning meeting.


More than a year before SAFETEA-LU, U.S. DOT's ITS program was reorganized to focus resources on major efforts that have a clear federal role and that offer the most promise to improve safety, mobility and productivity.

We are making progress on:

  • New ways to manage congestion in urban corridors,
  • More accurate and timely road weather information,
  • Enhanced communication during emergencies, especially evacuations,
  • Increased accessibility for the disabled and disadvantaged, and,
  • Support for efficient movement of freight through ports and across borders.

We are well along on all of these major initiatives and you will hear more about them during this conference.


All these steps and more are needed because the single most pressing issue for the surface transportation community is solving the congestion problem. For drivers -- our customers -- congestion is their biggest headache.

It's what people talk about when they finally get to work . . . it's why all-news radio stations in major U.S. cities give traffic reports every ten minutes, all day long. (And why 511 is welcomed in communities across America.) For our economy, congestion is the enemy of productivity, efficiency, and global commerce.

ITS is all about making the best, most efficient use of our existing network -- fighting congestion by making the best use of what we have.

We’ve made great strides these past fourteen years in advancing the development and deployment of ITS technologies such as traffic management systems, advanced signal control, electronic toll collection, automated collision notification, and traveler information systems.

Now ITS is ready to take a significant leap forward through the deployment of vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to roadside communication. This is the promise of vehicle infrastructure integration -- or VII.

Through the VII initiative we have the opportunity to significantly improve safety by deploying advanced crash avoidance systems where vehicles and infrastructure work cooperatively to protect travelers. VII also allows us to manage and operate the transportation network through wireless connections, giving system operators the ability to quickly respond to disruptions . . . and users real-time travel conditions on major roadways.


While the USDOT has an important leadership role in advancing VII and other ITS technology, we cannot succeed alone.

Partnerships with state and local governments and cooperation with industry and stakeholders are vital to success . . . As are global partnerships and information sharing fostered through annual World Congresses.

  • We must share best practices around the world.
  • We must push technology from research into deployment, and from deployment into widespread use.

That’s the ITS route to making transportation safer and more reliable.


The importance that the Bush administration places on ITS and on the ITS World Congress is evident by our strong participation.

I invite you to presentations by:

  • Jackie Glassman, NHTSA Acting Administrator, at tomorrow’s plenary session. She will highlight the safety aspects of our ITS program, and,
  • Ashok Kavesheswar, Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) Administrator, at Thursday’s closing plenary session. He will look toward the future and how we will continue to advance ITS in the United States and globally.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the Innovative Mobility Showcase at SBC Park and was impressed by the wide range of technologies on display. These demonstrations show what is possible today, and showcase the potential for the future. I encourage each of you to take the time to visit.

In addition, I encourage you to stop by the USDOT booth in the exhibit hall and the Intelligent Vehicle Initiative display and demonstration at SBC Park to learn more about our programs and to exchange ideas with our staff.


Next June, the U.S. will mark the 50 th anniversary of our Interstate Highway System. Building this 46,000-mile network of limited access, divided highways was a tremendous achievement. Now that the system is largely complete, we must keep it in good repair, expand at choke points wherever we can, and most important, manage it better .

ITS shows us the way . . . and the next four days of the 12 th World Congress will point us intelligently on our journey.

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