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U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Computer Software To Improve Transportation Decisions

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Computer Software To Improve Transportation Decisions

Federal Highway Administration
October 2, 2000

Monday, October 2, 2000
Contact: Lori Irving
Telephone: 202-366-0660
FHWA 63-00

U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced an effort to provide transportation planners across America a new software program that should help them make better decisions about transportation.

"By forecasting the positive and negative effects of transportation options, this new software will help improve the quality of transportation decisions – enabling us to continue to improve safety, protect the environment and reduce congestion, especially in urban centers," Secretary Slater said. "Projects like this also help advance President Clinton and Vice President Gore’s comprehensive initiative to strengthen the federal government’s role as a partner with state and local efforts to build ‘livable communities’ for the 21st century."

During the last five years the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Environmental Protection Agency have been sponsoring the development of the Transportation Analysis and Simulation System (TRANSIMS), software intended to help transportation planners make better decisions. Under this sponsorship, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the developer of TRANSIMS, has signed a contract with PricewaterhouseCoopers to partner with DOT and LANL in the development and deployment of a user-friendly version of the software.

TRANSIMS is based on advanced techniques developed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory for military applications.

"This shows how key technologies developed for national security purposes can be applied to solve major problems faced by everyone who has to commute to work," said Los Alamos Director John Browne.

According to the FHWA, TRANSIMS is expected to produce high quality detailed simulations that will permit planners and citizens to better understand the implications of transportation policy choices. This will allow planners to evaluate proposals to improve highways, transit, biking and walking facilities. The fine level of detail in this software will give decision makers a more accurate representation of the impact of transportation improvements on travel, driving and air pollution emissions along with information to assess the social and economic effects of various scenarios.

The FHWA said that TRANSIMS, developed at a cost of $25 million, represents a major advance in travel forecasting procedures. It provides planners with a typical person’s daily activity pattern (for example a trip to work, to shop and then to recreation), simulates the movements of individual vehicles on a regional transportation network and estimates the air pollution emissions generated by vehicle movements.

TRANSIMS has been developed through field tests with the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the Regional Planning Agency for the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area and the Portland, Ore. Metropolitan Service District. The commercialization process will move TRANSIMS from a laboratory procedure to a practical, user friendly tool that can be applied by state and local agencies. Plans call for TRANSIMS to be available in January of 2002.

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NOTE TO EDITORS: Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater and transportation ministers from more than 80 countries will participate in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s historic "International Transportation Symposium: Moving to the 21st Century -- Best Practices of Today and Lessons for Tomorrow," the first global transportation planning meeting of its kind. The three-day conference runs from October 9-12 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., and is open to press.

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