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By | January 25, 1996

      Technologies, including GPS, will be the cornerstones of a new intelligent transportation system (ITS) initiative that recently was unveiled by Transportation Secretary Federico Pena at the Transportation Research Board meeting here. Pena, who called the ITS initiative "Operation Timesaver," said the program will cost $10 billion in federal funding to complete in 10 years.

      Using technology, Pena said Operation Timesaver’s goal is to cut commuting and travel time for city residents by 15 percent. The United States’ 75 largest metropolitan areas will get the new ITS funding.

      Pena, who said in November at the ITS World Congress that he would make this announcement, said that the Transportation Department’s (DOT) will solicit bids from two to three cities to serve as model sites for ITS’ implementation.

      However, Pena in a news conference following the announcement, said that it may be tough for ITS to get new funding in future years because of the budget debate in Congress. Pena all but pointed to the need for more private sector involvement in ITS.

      Some of the current ITS programs and technology cited by Pena include the city of Baltimore’s use of GPS for municipal buses, radar sensors built into roads that measure traffic flow, GPS-based dispatch systems that will help local governments to detect accidents and route emergency vehicles.

      Much of the technology, while using GPS to locate buses and individual vehicles, will rely on computers. Travel advisory services will allow commuters to receive home computer traffic reports.

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