The Kern Council of Governments (Kern COG) embarked on a study to determine how advanced technologies can reshape the future of transportation in the Kern Region. The combination of both urban and rural land uses in Kern County results in a unique crosssection of transportation challenges. Intelligent Transportation Systems offer the potential to address these problems, often at a substantial cost savings over traditional solutions such as building new roads or adding new lanes. By applying advanced technologies to the surface transportation network, mobility can be improved in a safe and efficient manner that will help preserve the quality of life and healthy local economy that Kern County enjoys.
Kern COG, along with a regionwide Steering Committee, spearheaded efforts that will result in a practical plan to meet the transportation needs of Kern County well into the 21st century. Input from area residents, business owners, and public officials was critical to identify the goals and transportation needs of those that live and work in Kern County. There were many opportunities throughout this 15 month project for the public to provide input to the project, including rural area public workshops, urban area special event exhibits, group meetings, and ITS UPDATE newsletter which provided a progress report on study findings and informative articles on current ITS technologies and programs.
Building Blocks of the ITS
The entire idea of a regional ITS is founded on these basic building blocks working together to improve the efficiency and safety of the community’s overall transportation network.
- Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS) and Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS)
- Advanced Rural Transportation Systems (ARTS)
- Commercial Vehicle Operation (CVO)
- Advanced Public Transportation Systems (APTS)
- Advanced Vehicle Control and Safety Systems (AVCSS)
Problems & Opportunities
The following is a “Top 10” list of the most frequently identified needs and deficiencies:
- roadway safety during recurring, severe weather
- roadway safety related to extremely high truck volumes
- air quality improvement
- congestion due to continued population growth
- roadway and traffic information for emergency
- management during earthquakes
- emergency response for rural travelers
- information sharing and coordination
- among public agencies
- realtime traveler information dissemination
- road closure information
- improved transit operations
10-Year Vision: Kern ITS Programs
Six programs have been developed which will make Kern’s transportation system a more intelligent one in terms of improving the safety and efficiency of day to day travel within and through the region. These initial programs will be implemented over the next ten years to build a sound, strong foundation for future technologies and strategies. These Kern ITS programs represent the first integration of rural and urban ITS solutions in California, and will facilitate the integration and coordination of transportation and ITS applications region and statewide in conjunction with other EDPs being developed throughout California.
- Kern Traveler Safety Program
- Kern Informed Traveler Program (TravelKIT)
- Enhanced Emergency Response Program
- Kern Smart Transit Program
- Traffic and Incident Management Program
- Communication Network Development Program
ITS on the Web
Check out the directory for Rural ITS. You can also access the main US Department of Transportation’s web site which can connect you with transportation related web sites from around the world.
Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS) and Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS)
ATMS and ATIS are key components that help traffic run smoothly, particularly in congested urban areas. Some examples include:
- Traffic signal coordination
- Freeway ramp meter signals
- Changeable message signs (CMS) to warn drivers of upcoming road closures, accidents, and other hazards
- Public kiosks, dial in phone numbers, and Internet web sites to provide travelers with realtime traffic and weather information
Advanced Rural Transportation Systems (ARTS)
ARTS use some of the same technologies found in an urban ATMS and ATIS, but focus on addressing the unique travel conditions along rural roadways, including:
- Hazardous weather warnings
- Animal crossings
- Motorist emergency services, such as call boxes and in vehicle MAYDAY devices
Commercial Vehicle Operation (CVO)
CVO technologies generally allow drivers with proper documentation to have their vehicles cleared without stopping at weigh stations or ports of entry. Some examples include:
- Electronic credential checking
- In vehicle computers allowing vehicle-to-roadside communications
Advanced Public Transportation Systems (APTS)
APTS are designed to improve transit service and passenger safety. Some programs that are currently operational include:
- Electronic payment (VISA/MC/debit cards) provides a convenient payment option for transit fare, and minimizes the amount of cash a passenger needs to carry
- Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology allows a dispatch center to “track” its buses, which improves response time in case of an accident as well as up to the minute information on bus schedule and arrival times
- Traveler information kiosks with current transit information give passengers current status of bus schedules and available routes
Advanced Vehicle Control and Safety Systems (AVCSS)
Several AVCSS are in testing phases, but there are a few that are commercially available:
- Sensors that detect impending crashes (head on/rear end/lateral collision) and warn drivers of hazards and obstructions
- Blind spot detectors, which have also been implemented on school buses (pilot program)
- Visibility enhancement for driving at night or in severe weather, such as fog or dust
Kern Traveler Safety Program
Traveler safety concerns in Kern vary from adverse weather conditions, to red light violations, to railroad crossing safety. This program combines proven technologies with newer, innovative applications to provide Kern with an aggressive, “cutting edge” approach to rural and urban safety.
Kern Informed Traveler Program (TravelKIT)
Making Kern travelers more informed travelers will reduce congestion and the number of avoidable accidents when advance warnings are available. The best way to keep the transportation system working safely and efficiently is to get information to travelers quickly. This allows travelers to make informed decisions about when to leave for a trip, which route to take, and even what mode of transportation would be best.
Enhanced Emergency Response Program
The Enhanced Emergency Response Program improves the safety of the transportation system by providing police, sheriff, fire, ambulance and other emergency service providers with the tools that they need to quickly and accurately determine the fastest and safest routes.
Kern Smart Transit Program
The Kern Smart Transit Program applies to the Kern Regional Transit and the Golden Empire Transit (GET) systems. The program improves the efficiency and productivity of the transit systems, enabling them to provide better, more reliable service; extend coverage temporally and geographically; and become more self sustaining in terms of costs and revenue.
Traffic and Incident Management Program
Traffic and incident management improves day to day traffic operations through the use of advanced technologies and proven management strategies. This means that accidents get cleared more quickly, daily traffic problems are relieved, roadway safety is improved, and agencies can get more done.
Communication Network Development Program
An extensive communications network will be provided to connect different agencies within the region to allow cooperation and coordination in operating and managing the transportation system.
The key to successful implementation of the EDP lies in the thorough identification of the specific needs of the Kern Region.
We encourage you to express your comments by contacting Raquel Pacheco.