Since September 2004, a 511 and an Internet site (511tampabay.com) have disseminated traveler information to the Tampa Bay area including real-time speed and traveler information, despite the lack of publicly owned and operated ITS sensors on these facilities. An innovative public-private partnership was brokered by FDOT that allowed a private sector company to deploy traffic sensors in the right-of-way along I-275 and I-4 in the Tampa Bay area that has provided these valuable data to the traveling public.
Funding for the project was made available through the Intelligent Transportation Infrastructure Program (ITIP) which allocated $2 million in funding to the Tampa Bay area to deploy traffic monitoring equipment. The ITIP program expanded in 2003 with the passage of the 2003 Defense Appropriations Bill and FDOT took advantage of the available funding to improve their highway operations.
One challenge that was overcome in the public-private partnership was a restriction included in the original agreement which limited the use of traffic monitoring data generated from the system to FDOT internal system management uses only. The private sector partner had a business model which relied on its ability to market and sell the data generated by the sensors to other outlets. An interim solution was reached in which the private partner has agreed to provide the information free of charge for one year, and FDOT has agreed to offset the anticipated loss of revenue thereafter to the private partner for continued use of the traffic data.
Avoid restrictive-use language in contracts with information providers.
Avoiding restrictive language in public-private ventures is paramount to enable public agencies to serve the public in the best possible manner. In this case, an interim solution was brokered but to what cost is still to be determined. One risk that lingers is the potential loss of use of the travel-time and speed data generated by the system in the next few years, after the public has come to expect such information. This situation could place FDOT in a precarious situation with the public.
Access to real-time travel times and speeds are valuable to traveling public.
To date the public response has been quite positive similar to the experiences other jurisdictions have reported when real-time travel times and speeds are made available to the public. Agencies should strive to provide these types of data to the public but be aware of potential restrictions that can be included in public-private partnership agreements.
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