What are the goals for ITS?

Themes: Goal-setting; Problem assessment; Opportunity analysis


Goal-setting is an essential first step in purchasing and deploying any ITS system. It sets the strategic parameters, and provides guidance for all involved in the ITS project. All relevant stakeholders need to be involved.

This sections considers three aspects:

  • What stimulates the initiation of an ITS project
  • Goals related to solving problems and improving performance
  • Goals related to offering new services or availing of opportunities

Why is an ITS project being considered?

Initiation of an ITS project may be internally or externally driven. Typical scenarios are:

  • The Authority governing public transport or operator under its purview decides to implement ITS to help solve problems which it has identified;
  • The Authority mandates that ITS equipment and particular methods are used by operators (e.g. for service monitoring or fare collection);
  • A new contractual/permit arrangement requires changes in service reliability and/or data reporting, and ITS is identified as the means to achieve this;
  • A multi-modal decision taken at a higher-level migrates ITS requirements down to the individual modes (including buses) - e.g. a regional transit authority mandates that all public transport in their region must participate in an integrated payment scheme; or that all operators must participate in a specific real-time traveller information system . This requires the Operator to purchase new ITS technology or to adapt existing ITS to comply.

This context is important, as it may lead to multiple goals. In some cases, it may require the Operator to incorporate the goals and needs of others within the functional specification and design of its ITS systems.

In some cases, the ones who take all the main conceptual and design decisions, who fund it, or who procure it are not the entity that uses the ITS. Note that these issues can also occur within a large organisation where one unit takes the key decisions about systems that other units will use.

In practice, implementation of ITS in urban passenger transport tends to be Problem-driven rather than Opportunity-driven – i.e. it is more often reactive.  Nonetheless, while problem-solving is the initial stimulus to implement ITS, once the ITS is under consideration, Opportunities are identified and included in the ITS design.

Problem Assessment

Problem assessment can include:

  • Requirement to improve performance as lost trips, irregular service, reduced service quality have reached unacceptable levels
  • Congestion increasing the fleet required to deliver the same service/capacity, increased operating and investment costs
  • Disrupted service has becomes unattractive to passengers, losing business and revenue
  • Need for performance monitoring for a new operating contract; amount of service actually run, reliability and/or service quality may be linked to payments
  • Staff unhappiness due to worse driving conditions, delayed meal-breaks and shift-ends
  • Assaults on staff, anti-social behaviour on buses, other issues require increased security
  • Increasing fuel consumption and maintenance issues due to driver behaviour
  • Lack of management information about the service, or need to deal with accidents, incidents, complaints,etc.

Identifying Opportunities

In other cases, the Authority or Operator identifies an Opportunity which can be (better) exploited by using ITS. Opportunities can include:

  • Provision of real-time passenger information
  • Interface with traffic control systems to gain priority for buses at traffic signals
  • Interface with urban traffic control centre to deal with planned and short-notice/special events
  • Data to support network and route planning
  • Support to fare collection systems
  • Automation of data gathering, transfer to administrative, monitoring and MIS systems

First-cut of the the Functional Identification

A first-cut of functional identification could occur at this stage. The functional identification can assist in defining the boundaries of the ITS study, in setting an initial framework for analysis of Needs and Solutions, and in ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are engaged in the process.