TELECOMMUNICATIONS AS A FORCE FOR IMPROVING TRANSPORT

Telecommunications also has a stimulative effect on travel by making the transportation system work better than it might otherwise. People and organizations use telecommunications to make transportation and travel safer, faster, more reliable, and more productive.

One way this happens is that increasingly better and less expensive wireless telecommunications, such as cellular telephone service, lets people stay accessible and productive while in motion. Cellular telephone growth is very strong, as shown in Exhibit 2-13.

Furthermore, in the information age, transportation is being redefined. With greater use of information technology, raw transportation value decreases, but the other attributes of transportation--speed, timeliness, accountability, predictability, flexibility, and responsiveness--become more important. Information technology applied in the sectors that transportation serves is the force that creates the demand for these attributes. Information technology applied to transportation itself is what can provide these capabilities. Officials can now apply to transportation the same information substitution principles that are emerging in other sectors.

The dominant automobile-based portion of the transportation system is moving toward higher levels of integration with telecommunications, such as microprocessors networked together inside every auto and multiple telecommunications systems serving travelers [such as AM/FM radio receivers, cellular phones, Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATISs), and satellite Global Positioning Systems (GPSs) for navigation]. Overnight package delivery is completely telecommunications intertwined, every package, vehicle, and pickup or delivery location being tracked by powerful real-time telecommunications systems.

Intelligent vehicle highway systems (IVHS) research and development programs are an effort by business and government to apply telecommunications toward making rubber-tired vehicle travel work better, especially by increasing the capacity and maximum flow rates on existing roads. The IVHS concept offers the potential to reduce vehicle travel times or at least make travel time more predictable. Initial IVHS systems are providing drivers with information about traffic conditions and alternatives on a real-time basis to permit a greater measure of route deviation to avoid congestion. Intelligent vehicle highway systems could also be designed to improve the performance of buses, carpools, and other high-occupancy vehicles by giving them an information access advantage on the road that supplements the advantage offered by diamond-marked lanes (Niles and Toliver, 1992).

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