Transit ITS Done Right!

September 23, 2010

Submitted by James Wong

Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC are metropolitan neighbors that share residents, workers, and now transit fares. With MTA Maryland’s recent adoption of the Charm Card and WMATA’s already implemented SmarTrip system, it is now possible to travel on literally hundreds of local and commuter bus, metro, subway and light rail routes. Using a scientific method (we looked briefly at a map) we realized that the longest probable distance you could travel is from Dulles International Airport in Virginia to York in Pennsylvania, all with one fare card. That’s over 120 miles of transit!

The convenience and the customer perspective is a tremendous advantage for the region’s transit users, especially those commuting between Washington and Baltimore daily. One look at the Baltimore-Washington Parkway or the morning MARC trains will tell you that there are plenty of people doing this. But the real story is the way this came about: the National ITS Architecture.

The National ITS Architecture is a document that guides state/regional transit and highway officials in the deployment of ITS projects that work with one another. The goals of the architecture are to:

• Promote interoperability between systems
• Ensure efficient investment in emerging technologies
• Reduce time to deployment for technology already implemented nearby

From the transit side, ITS projects can be anything from short-range radios and security cameras, to automated vehicle location systems and electronic fare collection. With functional and technical guidance, the ITS Architecture (which is replicated with specific entities at the state and regional level) is already showing success.

The program is still growing, but I expect that in another few weeks we will be able to ride connecting transit systems from Reston, VA to Portland, OR on one fare card!

This article was written by James Wong, a Transportation Analyst with Kittelson & Associtaes, Inc. He works out of the Reston, VA office for KAI.

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