INTELLIGENT TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS (ITS)
Transportation Management through the application
of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in Montgomery County, Maryland
Montgomery County, Maryland with a population of 800,000
and 3,000 miles of roads, has established a transportation management program
that includes processes, functions and systems that provide real time control,
monitoring and information capabilities.
The safe and efficient management of Montgomery County's
transportation system requires the ability to identify, respond to, adjust
for, and provide information on a variety of problems that impact the transportation
system on a daily basis. These problems include:
- Incidents : An incident is any event that reduces the
normal capacity of the transportation system. An incident can include anything
from debris in the road disabled vehicles, accidents, to an overturned
tanker truck on fire. These non-recurring incidents have been shown nationally
to create over 60% of delay on urban roads.
- Special Events : Special events such as parades, fairs,
golf tournaments, etc. impact the transportation system and the resources
of Montgomery County on a more and more frequent basis.
- Weather and Natural Disasters : The impact of weather
and other natural disasters on Montgomery County's transportation system
increases with the growth of the county and surrounding jurisdictions.
- New Road Construction : The construction of new roads
in Montgomery County has been impacted by reduced construction budgets,
environmental issues, land availability and other factors. This makes it
increasingly necessary to more efficiently manage the county's existing
- Transit : The growth in and around Montgomery County
will require increased use of transit systems.
- Livable Neighborhoods : Increased citizen demand for
safe and livable neighborhoods free of "cut-thru" traffic places
increased demand on the Montgomery County's 1000 mile major arterial road
- Parking Management: The ever increasing demand for parking
and the reduced ability to provide sufficient parking in the county's central
business districts will increasingly impact the county's transportation
- Economic Viability : Montgomery County's economic viability
is closely related to the efficiency of the county's transportation system.
The quality of the transportation system has a direct impact on keeping
businesses in and attracting businesses to Montgomery County. Delays incurred
by users of the transportation system causes loss of work productivity.
- Environmental Impact : Congestion caused by an inefficient
transportation system adds to air pollution and wasted fuel.
- Health and Welfare : An inefficient and poorly managed
transportation system increases the likelihood of accidents and an increase
in health risks associated with the stress that is attributed to excessive
delays. Other health impacts can be associated with environmental issues.
- Future : Montgomery County's existing transportation
infrastructure must be adaptable to the transportation system of the future
if Montgomery County is to maintain its ability to manage the transportation
demands into the 21st century.
Montgomery County has determined that through a continually
improving and adaptable transportation management program the county can
effectively eliminate, reduce, and respond to a variety of transportation
related problems. Transportation management can be divided into three major
- Control : Systems and processes that provide for the
safe and efficient movement of people and goods through the transportation
system by effectively controlling those movements.
- Monitoring : Systems and processes that monitor and identify
the condition, performance, use, and safety of the transportation system.
- Information : Multiple systems and processes that provide
historical and real time information on the use and status of the transportation
system to government agencies, the media and the public.
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) :
In 1980, Montgomery County started the development of
the county's transportation management program with the implementation
of a real time traffic responsive computerized signal system. The computerized
signal system, which started with 10 intersections associated with the
construction of a major shopping mall, has been expanded to a system that
now controls and monitors all the 700 plus county maintained signals. As
the computerized signal system grew in size it became evident that the
system provided the capability to manage traffic on a real time basis.
Incidents and special events were managed more effectively and with less
impact on resources through the capabilities of the signal system and coordination
with police, fire, and other state and local transportation agencies.
The experience gained from the computerized signal system
generated several enhancements through the 1980's that provided improved
capabilities to Manage and coordinate activities and functions associated
with the transportation system. In 1992 a contract was awarded to implement
an enhancement to the computerized signal system that would form the base
system for Montgomery County's Advanced Transportation Management System
Advanced Transportation Management System (ATMS) :
Montgomery County's Advanced Transportation Management
System is composed of multiple subsystems that provide real time control,
monitoring, and information capabilities. Montgomery County has encouraged
and facilitated inter and intra-agency coordination as part of the county's
transportation management program. To fund the development and implementation
of the Advanced Transportation Management System (ATMS) a capital improvement
program (CIP) project was approved as part of the county's multi-year program.
The Advanced Transportation Management System provides
the tools to support the county's ability to implement an effective transportation
management program. The ATMS serves as the catalyst for improved coordination
and cooperation between multiple agencies, the media, and the public on
issues associated with managing the transportation system.
The ATMS features an open architecture that allows for
new technologies to be readily added to the system. Some of the major components
of the ATMS include :
- Advanced traffic responsive traffic signal control for
up to 1,500 signals. (All 700+ traffic signals in the county are presently
under computer control.)
- Automated variable message and route guidance sign control.
(Under design with testing in a controlled area during 1998).
- 200 camera video surveillance system. (46 cameras operational
with 60 planned for operation by the end of 1997 and 20 to 25 added each
- Capability to monitor 3000 sampling detectors utilizing
various technologies. (1000 loop detectors planned for operation during
1997. Machine vision and other detector technologies under test.)
- Automated Transportation Information System (ATIS) to
- Travelers Advisory Radio System (TARS) (operational).
- Live Transportation broadcasts on cable television's
County Cable 55. (Operational)
- Direct connection to commercial television broadcast
- Coordination and information sharing with traffic information
services (Metro Traffic and Shadow Traffic). (Operational) Internet connection.
(Operational spring of 1996).
- Telephone based voice recognition transportation information
system (Development and implementation 1997).
- Kiosks and information centers (Operational 1997).
- Integrated transit and traffic operations and management.
(Development and testing 1995, full deployment by the end of 1997).
- GPS based automatic vehicle locating system. (Operational.
Enhancements scheduled for 1997).
- Automated incident detection and management system. (Operational.
Enhancements during 1997).
- Aerial surveillance program including the capability
to directly coordinate response with multiple agencies and the capability
to transmit 'live' video from the aircraft to the Transportation Management
- Automated integration with police / fire computer aided
dispatch system. (In progress, 1998)
- Automated transportation planning support. (Operational.
Since 1980, Montgomery County has been constructing a
several hundred mile communication system to support the communication
requirements of the computerized signal system and now the ATMS. The original
twisted pair copper based communication system is being enhanced with fiber
optics. The fiber optic based system will use the Synchronous Optical Network
(SONET) standard to support data, voice, and video requirements. The fiber
optic system is being implemented with the capacity to connect all government,
public schools, and college facilities in Montgomery County. Future connection
of the county's FiberNet to private communication systems will provide
the capability for citizens to remotely access Montgomery County Government
and other public agencies.
The success of Montgomery County's transportation management
program is dependent on the coordination and cooperation of multiple agencies.
These agencies include police, fire and rescue, environmental, planning,
and transportation at the federal, state, and local levels. Existing and
future ATMS systems do and will improve the coordination between these
An excellent example of coordination related to transportation
management in Montgomery County is the Transportation Operations and Incident
Management Team, composed of representatives from Montgomery County police,
fire and rescue, environmental protection, and transportation departments.
The team meets on a monthly basis to develop and implement transportation
management improvements. Members of the team jointly manage the response
to major incidents that impact the transportation system.
Providing information to the users of the transportation
system is a critical function of transportation management. Real time and
accurate information distributed in a variety of formats by public agencies,
the media and private information companies ill provide the information
that will be used by those responsible for and those that use the system
to make group and individual transportation related decisions. Montgomery
County has and will develop information systems that use a variety of formats.
Montgomery County believes that accurate and timely information on transit
and traffic conditions and status may help to encourage increased use of
transit and car pools. The ATMS will have multiple subsystems to gather
and disseminate transportation information.
Transit / Traffic Integration:
Montgomery County has determined that to properly manage
the transportation system the county must apply advanced technologies that
integrate transit management and traffic management into a cohesive transportation
management system. Montgomery County's ATMS provides integrated transit
and traffic management. The county's Transportation Management Center has
been enlarged to house traffic and transit personnel. Traffic and transit
personnel will work side-by-side and share a central system to more effectively
manage transportation. Advanced technologies monitor the location of the
county's RIDE-ON bus fleet using the global positioning system (GPS) and
automatically adjust traffic signals on a system wide basis to provide
priority to buses that are behind schedule. Real time schedule status will
be available to users of the transit system. Initial development of the
system began in 1994 with full implementation of the 250 RIDE-ON buses
by the end of 1998.
The ATMS is the key to Montgomery County's transportation
incident management program. Through the system's control monitoring, and
information capabilities, incidents are quickly detected, responded to,
adjusted for, and cleared as safely and effectively as possible. The computerized
signal system and the county's aerial surveillance program have proven
to be critical tools in managing incidents. Anticipated improvements in
detection technologies will further enhance the county's ability to identify
The ATMS's capabilities to manage incidents are readily
adaptable to managing special events that impact the transportation system
with either closures and or large volumes of traffic, both people and vehicles.
The Transportation Operations and Incident Management Team is used to plan
and manage special events and the related transportation needs.
Weather and Natural Disasters:
Weather and natural disasters impact transportation systems
in the northeast on a frequent basis.The ATMS will feature systems that
monitor weather, condition of roadway surfaces, adjust for delays and closures,
and provide information on transportation conditions. County Cable 55 has
proven to be valuable information tool to advise county citizens of the
status of the transportation system through the use of "live"
video from surveillance cameras. text and graphics. Other information such
as school closures, impacts to government services, status of plowing,
etc. is also broadcast into homes and businesses.
Public / Private Partnerships:
Montgomery County believes that various opportunities
exist for partnerships to be formed by public agencies and private industry
in the development, testing, and implementation of intelligent transportation
system technologies. Cost and revenue sharing arrangements are practicable.
Montgomery County offers experience, existing infrastructure, cost sharing,
established test sites, a working transportation management system and
excellent location near Washington, D.C..
Transportation management requires dedication, qualified
personnel, public and political support, and properly applied advanced
technologies. Montgomery County's experience indicates that good transportation
management requires multiple capabilities that are combined and coordinated
to form a systems approach to transportation problems. Montgomery County's
Advanced Transportation Management System combines the latest in technology,
a dedicated and experienced staff, coordination between multiple agencies,
and public support to provide real time and effective transportation management.
Properly applied intelligent transportation system technologies
can significantly enhance a jurisdiction's ability to provide a safe and
efficient transportation system. Technology alone is doomed to failure
if the technology is not supported by trained and dedicated personnel.
Transportation management requires multiple systems and procedures that
are integrated into a coordinated system. Montgomery County's experience
is that there is no single or easy solution to transportation management.
An advanced transportation management system can be built
overtime in phases. As each phase is added more capabilities are realized.
At the heart of any transportation management system will be a computerized
signal system and an extensive communication network. These two systems
form the base of a transportation management system.
Montgomery County's transportation management system is
designed to provide control, monitoring and information. Each of these
three functions form a continuous loop. A failure of one of the functions
will dramatically limit the ability to provide safe and efficient transportation
For further information on Montgomery County's Advanced
Transportation Management System please contact:
Emil J. Wolanin,
Department of Transportation
Tel: (240) 777-2190
Last Updated September 23, 1997
Created by MIKE KINNEY & JOHN RIEHL, Montgomery County, Maryland DOT.