This issue of JOTS has articles on work that SPC is doing with intelligent transportation, the regional ConnectCard, traffic incident management, and Public Participation Panels. Enjoy!
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in the SPC Region
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) provide the opportunity to implement advanced technology to make our transportation system more efficient, safer, and greener. Examples of ITS that we are already using in our region include:
- CCTV cameras that PennDOT and others use to monitor our freeways and
report on congestion and accidents. This system is also used to dispatch Freeway Service Patrol vehicles and other emergency responders to the scene of an incident to facilitate quick clearance.
- Dynamic Message Signs along the freeways which provide congestion and travel time information.
- Highway Advisory Radio Systems which provide information on road
conditions, traffic congestion, and special events on AM radio.
- Fixed Anti-icing Spray Technology (FAST) sites on some of our freeway bridges that monitors developing icy conditions on the bridge and automatically sprays de-icing chemicals.
- The above ITS elements are connected to and managed from a modern
Regional Traffic Management Center which operates 24/7 adjacent to
PennDOT's District 11-0 office in Bridgeville.
- The ConnectCard which is our region's transit fare smart card (see article below in this issue of JOTS).
- Statewide 511PA is a website/phone service which provides real time traffic, weather and transit information from various sources.
- PA Turnpike's EZ Pass allows travelers to complete toll transactions without having to stop at a toll booth to collect tickets or pay cash. This is done through the use of detected transponder (radio frequency) technology that is placed in the vehicle and a pre-funded EZ pass account.
- Smart phone applications such as Tiramisu and ParkPgh. Tiramisu provides easy access to schedule and real time arrival information for local public
transportation. ParkPgh provides real time parking availability that is updated
every 30 seconds for parking garages in the downtown Pittsburgh Cultural
ITS technologies continuously evolve and improve. What was considered state of
the art five to ten years ago is likely to have undergone significant improvement
today. This is one of the challenges of trying to perform longer range planning for
ITS and this is what makes ITS technologies a potential game changer in our
Future advancements in ITS technologies may come with institutional and cultural
issues relative to public perception, privacy, legality and economic impact.
What are some ITS projects that may further develop in the future in our region and
nationwide? Potentially, the future could include things like:
- Expanding the number of Adaptive Traffic Signal Systems-these systems,
through advanced detection and processing technologies adjusts the signal
timings to accommodate changing traffic patterns and demand. Pilot
projects that have been implemented by PennDOT across the state have been
successful. One local Adaptive Signal Project has been successfully completed
on Route 19 in the Wexford Flats area. Results for this project are still being
- All Electronic Tolling (AET): Many states, including Pennsylvania, are
implementing cashless, non-stop, All Electronic Tolling through the use of
license plate reader and transponder technology. Toll invoices are sent to the
registered owner of the vehicle. Cashless tolling provides benefits such as
improved travel times, reduced emissions, lower operating costs, and customer
convenience. The PA Turnpike Commission hopes to fully implement AET in
the next 5-7 years.
- Integrated Corridor Management (ICM): With ICM, the various institutional
partner agencies manage the transportation corridor as a system-rather than the
more traditional approach of managing individual assets. They manage the
corridor as an integrated asset in order to improve travel time reliability and
predictability, help manage congestion and empower travelers through better
information and more choices. In an ICM corridor, travelers could dynamically
shift to alternative transportation options, even during a trip, in response to
changing traffic conditions.
- Connected Vehicles: Connected vehicle applications are being designed to
facilitate safer and more efficient travel through a data-rich travel environment.
This "driver assist" network captures real-time data from equipment located on
board vehicles (autos, trucks, and buses) and within the infrastructure to allow
the transportation manager and the traveler to make decisions that optimize the
performance of the network. Connected vehicle safety applications increase
situational awareness and reduce or eliminate crashes by supporting driver
advisories and warnings as well as vehicle and infrastructure control. On-board
equipment may also advise vehicle owners on how to optimize the vehicle's
operation and maintenance for maximum fuel efficiency.
- Autonomous Vehicles: Autonomous vehicles use on-board sensors to monitor
their surrounding environment and have the ability to navigate without human
input. Nationally, autonomous vehicle research and development is quite active.
Locally, Carnegie Mellon University's Autonomous Driving Collaboration
Research Lab is working with General Motors on this next generation vehicle.
SPC continues to foster ITS regional collaboration. SPC's work program related to ITS
- Providing leadership, coordination, and technical support to ITS project sponsors;
- Assisting with the update of the Regional ITS Architecture in support of the
Regional Operations Plan;
- Tracking the status of ITS projects and initiatives;
- Disseminating ITS related project information to regional ITS stakeholders,
decision makers, and the general public; and
- Encouraging before/after evaluation of ITS projects.
For more information on SPC's ITS initiatives, please contact Domenic D'Andrea at
email@example.com or 412-391-5590 x341.
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Southwestern PA's Automated Fare Collection System: ConnectCard Regional Pilot
Transit agencies participating in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region's Automated Fare
Collection System (Smart Card) project are poised to take the next step in the project. Beginning in December of 2013, the Port Authority of Allegheny County, Butler Transit
Authority, Fayette Area Coordinated Transportation, Mid-Mon Valley Transit Authority,
the City of Washington Transit and Westmoreland County Transit Authority will begin a
pilot of interoperability for the ConnectCard, the region's transit fare smart card.
To date, the ConnectCard is nearly fully implemented for the region's largest transit provider, the Port Authority of Allegheny County PAAC. ConnectCards are being utilized
daily by a wide variety of PAAC customers on buses and light rail vehicles throughout
the county. More customers are obtaining and re-valuing their smart cards at
vending machines, in participating retail outlets and online every day.
The next all-important step in this regional project is to test the mechanisms by which
customers from one transit provider will be able to use the ConnectCard to pay their fares
on another transit agency's vehicles. This cross-agency "customer sharing" will serve to
demonstrate the interoperability of the smart card fare-paying technology.
A fare technology's interoperability is sometimes the trickiest point in the project.
Fare technologies--from putting cash in a farebox to using verified credit card purchases--often break down when it comes to determining how a customer pays for trips that
require more than one provider or more than one mode (i.e., rail and bus). Agencies must
have a way to determine for which part of the trip the customer (and more importantly,
the customer's fare) "belongs to them" and for which part they belong to another agency. With the use of a smart card, this customer and revenue sharing is accomplished by
operational protocols programmed into the ways digital information from the cards is
recorded, sorted and reported. When a customer taps his or her card, the
information recorded at the fare box needs to be processed so agencies will eventually be
able to collect the appropriate portion of that fare.
Multiple agency transactions require agencies to have the same fare collection
technology, a joint agreement on fares and a way to reconcile the revenue sharing. In
addition to testing the technology, part of the ConnectCard pilot will be arriving at
preliminary agreements between the region's participating agencies on a Regional
Fare Policy and a Regional Clearinghouse Process. Eventually, these agreements will
require legally binding actions by the authority boards and municipal governments
responsible for these agencies.
In December 2013, some transit customers will begin to test the ability of the little
blue ConnectCard to allow them to easily get off one bus and get on another bus or
rail vehicle and travel across multiple county and municipal boundaries.
SPC staff has participated in the ConnectCard project since its inception. Primary
responsibilities have been to encourage collaboration between the region's transit
providers and facilitate communications between the project sponsors and the
contractors. For more information on SPC's role in the ConnectCard Project, please
contact Tom Klevan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-391-5590 x316.
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Public Participation Panels: Creating a Transportation "Network"
Involving the Public in the regional planning process is a priority for SPC. As a
means of receiving valuable public input, SPC maintains Public Participation Panels
(PPPs) in each of the ten counties in its transportation planning region. Therefore,
citizens do not need to travel outside their own county to address their concerns to
SPC; SPC comes to them.
Region-wide, there are more than 280 individuals representing the counties and the
region. Think of PPPs in terms of being like focus groups. Members are typically
citizens that come from all walks of life, having a variety of experience and
knowledge. Members are appointed by county commissioners and membership is designed to have a broad representation of the
communities within the counties. These attributes become extremely valuable when PPPs
are asked to help spread the word to communities and individuals over a large
area. PPPs are the eyes of their community, looking for transportation issues of note
in local media and publications, while also observing what occurs during their daily
commutes to work, school, and simply going about their daily lives.
PPPs generally meet twice a year. They gather in the fall and spring of the year; to
preview the start of construction season and then to later observe the progress made
prior to the next construction cycle. The primary role of the Panel members is to
provide comments on the Transportation Improvement Program, Long Range Plan,
Air Quality Conformity Assessment, and SPC's Public Participation Plan. Their input is
a valuable asset with regard to transportation issues, the planning process, and SPC's
approach to involving the public. They can also suggest meetings to gather the public
to discuss new transportation funding or legislation or to contemplate a transportation
issue in their community.
Currently, the PPPs are involved in the new SPC TIP Development Process. In the
spring of 2013, PPP members were asked to participate in a new, web-based process
to solicit initial input into the TIP. In addition, PPP members were asked to forward
this information to citizens in their network who may also have input, suggestions, or
recommendations into the TIP Development Process. In the fall and winter
of 2013, the PPPs were gathered in public meetings to discuss and provide comments
on the initial input received, see how that input has been used, and look for
which projects selected have advanced with public support and which additional projects
are seen as regional maintenance priorities to maintain the existing transportation
network. This information will be gathered and sent to PennDOT Central office for
initial review. During the early stages of 2014, technical and fiscal review of the Draft
TIP will begin, and the PPPs will once again be called upon in the Spring of 2014 to
review the final draft and provide their comments. At this time, they will also be
asked to be aware of the update of SPC's 2045 Long Range Transportation and
Development Plan, and will be asked to provide input in the region's future.
For more information on public participation panels, please contact Matt Pavlosky at email@example.com or 412-391-5590 x361 or visit our PPP webpage.
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SPC Continues to Make Progress with Regional TIM Program
As highlighted in the last issue of JOTS, Traffic Incident Management (TIM) is a
multi-disciplinary effort to improve the way we respond to incidents that impact traffic
flow on regional roadways. The primary goals of TIM are to ensure the safety of first
responders; clear roadways quickly in order to reduce traffic congestion and minimize
the potential for secondary crashes; and establish reliable interoperable communications
between responding agencies. In its role as a regional coordinator and facilitator
of TIM efforts, SPC continues to make progress and grow the program.
In July 2013, PennDOT District 11-0 hosted a HAZMAT tanker response
training event and a tour of the Western Regional Traffic Management Center
(RTMC) for local first responders. This event, which featured Mark Holloway, manager
of AmeriGas Propane's Supply & Logistics Group, included hands-on training
with an actual tanker truck and covered the many variables involved in emergency response
when one of these vehicles is involved in a crash. With his experience as a local
fire chief and an instructor at Texas A&M University, Mark was able to provide a
very engaging presentation that included examples from incidents that he has responded
to. First responders were also able to get a better understanding of Penn
DOT's traffic management procedures and capabilities by touring the RTMC in person.
In September, the Regional TIM Steering Committee hosted the Federal Highway
Administration's Strategic Highway Research Program's (SHRPII) TIM
Train-the-Trainer program. This is special training that is being rolled out nationwide
in order to establish a common approach for traffic incident management and prepare
people to share TIM training with other first responders from their agencies, units and
communities. The 1.5 day event was attended by 22 people and was conducted by
Ron Moore, a Texas firefighter with a national reputation as an accomplished trainer and
subject matter expert, and Rusty James, a retired law enforcement officer who
currently has TIM and freeway service patrol responsibilities for the Kansas City
Scout program. While the Train-the-Trainer program was a day and a half, the
training can actually be broken up into shorter modules to facilitate getting it out to
first responders who may not be able to commit large chunks of time all at once. The
Steering Committee is now working to develop a plan and schedule for rolling this
training out across Southwestern PA in 2014.
The I-79/I-76 and Airport Corridor Local TIM Teams each met in early October. The
teams were provided with a demonstration of the regional TIM SharePoint website
that has been established to facilitate interagency collaboration and information
sharing. They were also provided with an overview of the new After Action Review
survey tool that can be used to gather information following a major incident. In
addition, the teams received an update on the SHRPII TIM training and were provided
with an example of the training covering how to accurately determine and
communicate the location of incidents and how to do an initial windshield size-up
report in order to ensure accurate and timely response.
The Regional TIM Steering Committee also met in October. In addition to regular updates
on regional TIM initiatives, the meeting featured a presentation by Armstrong
County 911 Director Ron Baustert on the Inter-County Regional Radio System
(ICORRS) that has been implemented in Armstrong, Indiana and Westmoreland
Counties and is now being expanded to other counties. This system provides improved
emergency communications and interoperability and reduced maintenance
costs due to sharing of resources. It is possible that the ICORRS network could grow
into a regional interoperable system across Southwestern Pennsylvania. Another highlight
of the meeting was discussion with representatives from the Ohio Department of
Transportation (ODOT) and the Ohio State Highway Patrol on their QuickClear program,
which has received national recognition for its best practices. Ohio officials are
interested in the possibility of putting together a multi-state TIM conference in 2014,
so stay tuned!
For more information on SPC's TIM initiative, please contact Doug Smith at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-391-5590 x327 or visit our TIM webpage
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From Our Planning Partners . . .
Federal Highway Administration
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
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Other News . . .
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Upcoming 2013 SPC Meetings of Interest
January 16, 6:30 PM: Indiana County TIM Meeting, College Lodge, 200-236 College Lodge Rd, Indiana, PA
February 12, 10:00 AM: Transit Operators Committee Meeting
February 25, 8:00 AM: Regional Operations Plan Development
March 12, 10:00 AM: SPC Pedestrian/Bicycle Committee
May 21, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM: SPC Regional Freight Conference, Sheraton Station Square
May 21, 8:00 AM-10:00 PM: Pennsylvania Rail Freight Seminar, Golf Outing and Evening
Excursion, Sheraton Station Square
May 22, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM: Pennsylvania Rail Freight Seminar, Sheraton Station Square
Meeting dates and time are subject to change. Please check SPC's website at
spcregion.org or call 412-391-5590 for meeting confirmation. All meetings are held on 4th
floor at SPC offices unless otherwise noted.
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comments on this issue and ideas for future issues at
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Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission
Two Chatham Center, Suite 500
112 Washington Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-3451
The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) is the cooperative
forum for regional collaboration, planning, and public decision-making. The Commission serves as the official Metropolitan Planning Organization
(MPO) for a 10-county region including the City of Pittsburgh and the
counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene,
Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland.
The Commission develops plans and programs for public investments;
fulfills Federal and State requirements for transportation, economic
development, and local government assistance programs; and operates
with public involvement and trust.