Finding the nexus where different groups – hardcore environmentalists and hardcore business-firsters, for example – share common ground isn't always easy. Today, we think we've got one: smarter, greener transportation systems.

Thanks to Wired, we find a recent report issued by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) about the state of "intelligent transportation systems" (ITS) around the world, and the U.S. is – like in so many other areas – falling behind. The ITIF writes that these systems include:
new technologies that provide drivers with real-time information, such as transit routes and schedules providing information about delays due to congestion, accidents, weather conditions, or road repair work as well as a range of new devices such as computerized adaptive traffic signals that help to fully integrated intelligent transportation systems, tying vehicles, passengers, and devices together. If the United States were to adopt ITS, sitting in traffic at toll plazas, missing trains, unknowingly driving into dangerous conditions, and other pitfalls of getting around today will become ever rarer occurrences.
Not only are most of these benefits better for the environment, they also help the economy. Specifically, the ITIF calculates that having a robuts ITS in place could "contribute significantly to reducing congestion, which costs U.S. commuters 4.2 billion hours and 2.8 billion gallons of fuel each year, costing the U.S. economy up to $200 billion per year." The ITIF called for an increase in federal ITS funding by $2.5 to $3 billion a year, and estimates that the money will be easily returned in economic benefits. For examplt:
If the United States were to implement a national real-time traffic information program, the GAO estimates the present value cost of establishing and operating the program would be $1.2 billion, but would deliver present value benefits of $30.2 billion, a 25 to 1 benefit-cost ratio.
You can download the PDF here.

[Source: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation via Autopia | Image: Seattle Municipal Archives - C.C. License 2.0]

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