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About the Plan

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) have been around since the 1960’s when the first computer controlled traffic signal system was implemented. During the 1980’s, there was world-wide expansion and deployment of ITS systems, the most visible being freeway related with the installation of CCTV cameras and changeable message signs. The Region of Durham also implemented ITS elements, including a centrally managed traffic signal control system and data collection and management.

ITS also occurs in ways that may not even be recognized by the public or the public agency involved. Commercial vehicle operations and the scheduling of just-in-time deliveries may include forms of ITS. Emergency management, electronic payment for public transit or toll roads, and in-vehicle control systems are only a few of the many ITS elements that motorists encounter on a daily basis.

Recently municipalities recognized the need for a roadmap that sets the direction, pace and priorities for ITS investments within a geographical area in a focused and co-ordinated manner. A number of Canadian agencies have completed ITS Strategic Plans, including the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, the Province of Ontario, and the combined effort of the Atlantic Provinces.

The Region of Durham Works Department is taking steps to reduce the need to build more roads or widen existing roads by implementing ITS programs. ITS programs applicable to the Region’s transportation infrastructure will build upon the existing advancements that have already been put in place. It is the intent of the Strategic Plan to build upon and develop programs incorporating the ITS elements of other road authorities and users.

Future ITS programs will be identified and co-ordinated through an ITS Strategy. Initiatives to be considered for the strategy include:

  • A road closure action plan
  • Adaptive signal control, in which signal timing is continually adjusted to meet changing, real time conditions
  • Advance traveller information, through the use of changeable message signs, the Internet, and other communications solutions
  • Transit priority
  • Centre to centre communication with MTO COMPASS system
  • Incident management plans to outline the preferred approach for managing the traffic implications of unforeseen events

In 2003, the Regional Municipality of Durham completed a Community Strategic Plan (PDF), "Growing Together", to develop a clear vision for the future. Six objectives resulted from the planning process, with Transportation being one of the primary concerns of Durham's citizens. The consultation process specifically identified the lack of effective and integrated transit systems, and concerns related to growing traffic volumes and congestion. The purpose of this ITS Strategic Plan relates directly to the Transportation Objective of the Community Strategic Plan: "To strengthen and integrate the transportation system so that people can move easily around the Region and access other parts of the Greater Toronto Area and beyond."

Also in 2003, Regional Council approved the Region of Durham's Transportation Master Plan (TMP) (PDF). Under the section entitled "Transportation System Management", the TMP summarized the Region's ITS needs: Transportation system management solutions can offer substantial, low-cost benefits and gains in operational efficiency, such as:

  • Smoother traffic flow and reduced congestion
  • Reduced fuel consumption and vehicle emissions
  • Reduced user costs for fuel and vehicle maintenance
  • Potential for fewer accidents and lower related costs
  • Delay to the need for costly road expansion

ITS solutions can make the transportation system safer and more efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly, without the need for physical changes to existing infrastructure. ITS solutions are typically considered to:

  • Better manage available capacity within the transportation system
  • Disseminate information to users before and during their trips
  • Improve the safety and effectiveness of commercial and transit vehicles, and to reduce their cost of operation and regulatory compliance
  • Make vehicles safer and more efficient, through driving assistance and vehicle control intervention systems