Using ITS to Better Serve Diverse Populations

Principal Investigator(s):

Frank Douma, Director, State & Local Policy, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Gary Barnes, Former U of M Researcher, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

This project began an investigation into ways Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) can be used to serve the transportation needs of populations that have not been addressed in the traditional transportation planning process. Traditionally, transportation spending and policy have been oriented toward the needs of a singular, traveler, characterized as a car-owning adult who drives a moderate distance to work and who satisfies most non-work travel reasonably close to theme (or between home and work). However, as Minnesota moves into the 21st century, the traveling public will become increasingly diverse, in terms of travel behavior, age, and abilities. A substantial portion will not be able to drive themselves due to age (both old and young), disability, or poverty, among other reasons. But even among people who drive, an increasing number will not fit the traditional definition of a traveler; for example, they might have very long commutes to work, they may chose to not drive for environmental reasons, or they might drive long distances on a regular basis for recreation or other purposes.

The final project report consists of three sections: the first examines recent demographic data to assess the potential demand for new ITS applications, concluding that the populations not traditionally addressed in the transportation planning process that could most benefit from these applications are senior citizens, immigrant and non-English-speaking populations, and the disabled; the second section presents findings from efforts to collect primary data from these groups in surveys and focus groups; and the third section presents an assessment of community-based transit (CBT), carsharing, telework and telemedicine, and advanced traveler information services (ATIS), which are ITS applications that could benefit these populations. The results of this research show that CBT holds the greatest potential for serving the needs of each of the identified populations, while carsharing also presents significant opportunities for the immigrant populations. In addition, the findings suggest that combining ATIS with CBT or carsharing could create even greater benefits by allowing users to customize ATIS for the modes that serve them most effectively.


Project details:

  • Project number: 2003020
  • Start date: 03/2003
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow
  • Topics: Economics, Planning

Reports or Products: