The intention was for TravTIPS to provide integrated traveler information about multiple transportation modes on various venues, from the Internet, to kiosks in Penn Station (NYC) and South Station (Boston), as well as via wireless applications and specialized corporate services. By integrating information from a range of sources such as AccuWeather, MapQuest, Amtrak, emergency services and others, TravTIPS would inform travelers of changing conditions and travel options, enabling them to plan more efficiently.
The deployment of TravTIPS did not produce the desired outcomes. Only the Internet portion was deployed, which did not lead to revenue, and by 2000, the vendor elected to terminate its contract with I-95 CC and the FOT ended. The evaluation of the TravTIPS FOT revealed problems in planning and deployment that serve now as lessons learned for ATIS as well as for other types ITS projects.
The evaluation of the TravTIPS FOT revealed that there are challenges inherent in conducting projects through a public-private partnership and that dynamic market conditions require the re-assessment of business plans. In addition, detailed planning is necessary for projects that involve the data sharing and the installation of technical systems across multiple agencies and locations. The TravTIPS effort ran into several difficulties related to these issues, with the cumulative effect being that it could only be partially deployed and was terminated early. Key lessons learned are:
- Integrate market research in the planning process for consumer-oriented projects. The business planning should be flexible and responsive to changing market conditions. Market research conducted early in the TravTIPS project may have enabled the planners to develop more promising avenues or realistic approaches to developing an ATIS of I-95. The advancing Internet market was making the fee-based plan for ATIS obsolete.
- Clearly define and establish the roles and responsibilities of the different partners in a public-private partnership. Public agencies and private organizations differ in aspects that can affect their expectations, their needs and their goals and intentions. For a public-private partnership to work well and move a project forward, it is important that each party is aware of what it is expected to deliver and act, and for each party to understand what to expect from the other agencies. In TravTIPS, there appears to have been confusion over responsibilities, which hindered progress on the project.
- Allow flexibility in a public-private partnership. Allow the market conditions changed due to the proliferation of the Internet, affecting the probability of success of TravTIPS, the fixed deliverables remained the same. Under changing conditions it may be necessary to be flexible in terms of schedules, plans and scopes of work.
- Establish data sharing agreements and data standards. The parties in TravTIPS did not develop an agreed-upon, detailed approach to data sharing. As TravTIPS underwent deployment, the vendor found that third parties did not comply with their data sharing request or could not easily share data. Assumptions of data sharing made in the planning process were frequently not justified and were not realized.
TravTIPS was envisioned as a decision-making tool that would increase efficiency for the highway system by enabling travelers to make better-informed choices. The system was also expected to become economically sustainable through user fees and advertising profits (primarily on the Internet). However, as TravTIPS was being developed and deployed, market conditions changed; Internet providers of traveler information proliferated and offered services on the Internet without a fee. In addition, the implementation of most of the TravTIPS features was not realized due to technical and organizational problems. Thus, the FOT ended in 2000. The lessons learned demonstrate the importance of developing realistic marketing plans, planning for deployment by communicating the expectations of each partner, defining the roles and responsibilities of agencies in a project, and maintaining flexibility to adjust to changes in the marketing and technical environment.