Wednesday, February 18

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)

An ITS seminar supported by the Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT) Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was conducted at EDSA Shangri-La Hotel Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City last February 13, 2009 from 8:00AM – 4:00PM. The event was participated by members of academe (UP, DLSU, MAPUA Tech, and FEU), some national government agency representatives (DPWH, DOTC, DOST, MMDA, and LTFRB), and the private sector stakeholders like Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP), and Tollways Management Corporation (TMC). A keynote presentation given by Doctor Naohisa Okamoto, a visiting professor from University of Tsukuba in Japan, enriched the knowledge of participants on ITS by sharing current practices and or application as well as further studies regarding the topic in Japan.

What is Intelligent Transport System or ITS?

ITS is the application of information and communication technologies to surface traffic and transportation systems. (Sigua, 2008) The following diagram presented by Okamoto also illustrates ITS:

The GPS (Geographic Positioning System) device installed in some modern cars which provides information and guides drivers about the possible route from origin to destination is one of the examples of the application of ITS.

According to Okamoto, the key goal of ITS is to build integrated systems for people, roads, and vehicles in order to resolve problems of road transportation, including traffic congestion, traffic accidents, and environmental damage.

Some of the estimated benefits of using ITS are the following (according to US DOT as mentioned by Sigua, 2008):

a. Advanced traffic surveillance and signal control systems have resulted in travel time reduction ranging from 8-25%.

b. Electronic fare payment technologies for transit systems have resulted in increased revenues of 3-30% due to fewer evasions.

c. Incident management programs can reduce delay associated with congestion caused by incidents by 10-45%.

d. Electronic toll collection increases capacity by 200-300% compared to attended lanes

e. Widespread use of Mayday emergency notification devices can reduce the time it takes to discover a rural crash from 1 minute to 9.6 minutes.

ITS Deployment

Japan (presented by Okamoto)

· VICS (Vehicle Information and Communication System)

A comprehensive data is inputted and processed in the VICS Center which is then transmitted to roadside beacons using FM multi-channel broadcasting. VICS on-board unit or navigation system then displays information on the current traffic volume along roads that the driver will traverse.

VICS therefore provides road traffic information in real time, realizing smooth traffic and higher travel speed, resulting in the improvement of actual fuel efficiency. The notable effect of VICS is the reduction in CO2 emissions which is about 240 Mt by 2010.

· ETC (Electronic Toll Collection Systems)

ETC uses electronic means of collecting toll fees which makes transaction faster than the manual payment scheme or E-pass. The vehicle need not stop at gates because a roadside antenna reads the on-board ETC card and automatically collects toll fee from prepaid debit-credit card.

There are approximately 22.1 million ETC on-board units have been installed as of December 2008. Moreover, the ETC utilization rate in expressways nationwide is 75.3%. Traffic jams caused by toll gates which constitute about 30% is lessened through non-stop, cashless toll collection at expressway tollbooths.

Philippines (ITS Experience in the Philippines, a presentation by Sigua)

· Traffic Responsive Signal System

SMART System (State-of-the-Art Metro Manila Adaptive Responsive Traffic System)

This is a signaling project undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways – Traffic Engineering Center (DPWH-TEC) for the upgrading and development of traffic signals in the metropolis. It uses the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS) Technology and was first used in Cebu City. In Metro Manila, it covers about 420 intersections. Unfortunately, some signalized intersections were already replaced by U-turn slots as implemented by MMDA.

SCATS uses detectors embedded in the pavement to determine the congestion level of road networks. It is a dynamic demand-responsive traffic system used for areawide control, the signal timings therefore evolve in response to detected traffic demand.

· Metro Manila ETC System (Electronic Toll Collection)

Most widely known as E-pass, ETC was first implemented in August 2000 along the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the Skyway. In this system, a tag is placed on the inside surface of the windshield which is then electronically read at the entry and exit of E-PASS-ready toll lanes. Upon exit, it is read to determine the toll fee to be paid. A green light is given and the barrier is lift up if there is enough balance in one’s E-PASS account. A yellow light is also given if a subscriber’s prepaid toll balance is below P250 while red light means a zero balance account, thus, the subscriber cannot use the e-pass lanes to exit. This system is also employed in some toll collection booths of North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). In 2006, there are about 20% ETC users in SLEX while about 6.5% in NLEX.

· RFID Project of MMDA (Application of RFID on Public Transport, presented by Mr. Tony Pagulayan of MMDA)

This is the reorganized bus route policy as well as control of dispatch of buses that ply along the EDSA. The main objective of this project is to minimize the number of buses along EDSA but increase its occupancy rate so as to improve traffic congestions, and further in the decrease of CO2 vehicle emissions.

How can we apply ITS in the Philippines?

In the afternoon session of the seminar, a panel discussion regarding the query on how to apply ITS in the Philippines took place. The panel members comprised of invitees from national government agencies, academe, and private sector together with the distinguished panelists and moderated by Dr. Jose Regin Regidor contributed meaningful insights towards the development of ITS in the Philippines. The following noteworthy ideas and issues were being raised by the lead panelists during the discussion:

Dr. Primitivo Cal, UP SURP:

“Let us be selective in using appropriate technology for the Philippines because what is applicable in other countries may not be applicable for us. Aside from the number coding scheme as means to control the number of vehicles, maybe we can apply road pricing similar to Singapore. This project may obtain funding through BOT. Moreover, since according to MMUTIS, about 70% of trip makers rely on public transport, it is then necessary to focus developments to the public sector as beneficiaries.”

Prof. Francis Aldrine Uy, MAPUA Tech:

“Use ITS to solve social and environmental problems that is, by introducing environmental criterion in assessing the actual benefits of projects. The RFID project of MMDA for buses has potentials to be extended to private cars for easier car registration and vehicle emission testing but of course, there are issues on privacy and security which needs to be addressed.”

Prof. Sundo, Dep’t of CE of UP LB:

“There is a need for information dissemination on ITS. It is also important to revisit design of road facilities to address and manage issues on poor visibility, accidents and other transportation related concerns.”

Moreover, Dr. Benito Pacheco further inquired on whether ITS would be intelligible to the people or the system would be more of intelligent that the public may not easily grasp the concept and therefore the actual benefits are ignored and not fully optimized. The DOST representative on the other hand, pointed out that all of the discussion efforts boil down to issues on economic aspect of actually undertaking an ITS project. Dr. Ricardo Sigua in the later discussion posed an interesting challenge whether ITS is a tool or a toy.


1. Sigua, R. 2008 Fundamentals of Traffic Engineering. University of the Philippines Press.

2. Okamoto, N. Intelligent Transportation System/Service.

3. Sigua, R. ITS Experience in the Philippines.

4. ITS Seminar Panel Discussion. EDSA Shangri-La Hotel, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City. 13 February 2009

Some of the graduate students of Institute of Civil Engineering, UP Diliman

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